School is out, the students are gone and soon the dog days of summer will be upon us. Living in Colorado I don't miss the heat and humidity that make up a Midwest summer day but at the same time I have a healthy appreciation and understanding that this is when football players are grinding it out day after day preparing themselves both mentally and physically for the season to come.
One such player that will arrive in Lawrence this Wednesday is one of those we all came to know during the recruiting process, Plano Texas running back Toben Opurum. Toben recently wrapped up his final semester of high school, is packed and ready to go and looking forward to his first taste of a BCS Division 1 program. I had one last precollege opportunity to speak with Toben about what he's been up to over the past few months, how he's becomming familiar with the program and what his thoughts and hopes are for the fast approaching 2009 season.
Obviously I would have preferred to do this as an audio section much like we did around signing day but I had to get this one while I could and I think Toben had some good things to say. One thing I will throw out to the RCT readers relates to a somewhat joking comment I made during the interview when I called him Thunder Toben due to his size and the possible power he'll bring to the backfield. I guess my question would be, any other nickname ideas from the peanut gallery? Throw your thoughts in the comments and without further ado on to the interview.
Full Interview Transcript After the Jump...
Toben, to start off how have you spent your time over the last few months preparing yourself for your arrival in Lawrence?
Basically my preparation began the day I got my workout plan from Coach Dawson. I put myself through the workout and then it got even more hectic after I received my first DVD to begin learning signals.
So right now, I'm still working out and trying to figure out route combinations and mentally prepare myself for the change I will experience.
From strength and conditioning standpoint are you pretty confident that the program Coach Dawson runs you through has put you in a position to be physically prepared for the jump?
Definitely, he knows what he's talking about
I've even called him a couple times to get specific instructions on certain workouts and he has helped instruct me to the fullest.
What about from a mental standpoint, what has been the most challenging part of getting a grasp of the offense so far?
Route combinations by far. I understand the signals, I understand the running plays, I understand the blocking schemes for the most part, but it's difficult to get a grasp on what route I'm supposed to be running in our offense. I learn better when doing things though, rather than watching it.
Understandable, you know once I think I read that Dezmon Briscoe used NCAA Football to get used to the routes. Any truth to that method?
Actually I believe it was Madden 09 and I completely believe it. On my visit I played him in Madden and he stomped me. It was bad.
Nice, I imagine games can get pretty intense with him from the sound of it.
Well I wouldn't know he blew by me pretty easily and I thought I was good.
Fair enough, moving on to the running back situation at Kansas, it's been fairly well documented this spring that besides Jake Sharp it's pretty much wide open. Have you gotten any further indication from the staff in terms of where they see you ideally fitting in this season if all goes well.
They've told me that I have an obvious size advantage on Jake Sharp and they basically want to use me as a compliment to his running style. Also with that he'll be able to get some rest and not have to try and overwork himself.
Is your expectation or at least your hope to be the #2 guy going into the season?
I'm not going to tell you what I expect without having ever stepped onto a Division 1 football field, but my hope is to be the #2 going into the season and if the opportunity to start is there I would hope to take it and run with it.
So how about other guys coming in with you, have you had a chance to talk more with any of them or even current players already up at KU?
I've spoken to (Chris) Omigie a bit. Dexter (Linton) and I speak about once a week.
I just called Randall (Dent) yesterday and Jordan Webb and I text every now and then.
Jordan has been real helpful, just informing on how things are up there and what to expect and what not.
I imagine it's been helpful since he's been up there a semester already.
Oh definitely. He's pretty much gotten a feel for everything.
So here's a loaded question for you. If you had to pick one incoming recruit, besides yourself of course, that you think can be an immediate impact who would it be? And no PC answers on this one.
Immediate impact, I'd say Omigie if it weren't for our fully loaded receiver depth.
Otherwise, Quinton Woods. He is huge, and being a Juco player definitely helps you prepare a bit more to be an immediate impact.
So what about you, have you bulked up at all in the spring?
I look bigger but have maintained the same weight, if that makes sense.
Makes sense, feeling stronger and more powerful maybe then?
Hope so, we need Thunder Toben in the backfield
You plan on calling me that? (laughs)
Maybe...I'll keep you posted. Well, thanks again for all your help and giving us a little bit of time here at RCT I know you're one player we are all very interested in seeing develop.
No problem, anytime.
Toben also added a few quick things after our interview was over that I thought were worth mentioning. He will be rooming with Randall Dent who as we all know is another incoming freshman at defensive end.
He also said to keep an eye on Davyon Henry who is a CB/S prospect for the 2010 class that Kansas has offered and is recruiting from his school. Toben thinks he could be a great pickup for the Jayhawks and with his size of 6'3" 195 as a Junior in high school he could develop into a solid player anywhere from safety, corner or even as an outside linebacker against the spread offense.
Recruiting related as well he mentioned that David Beaty was pretty heavily recruiting several guys from Dexter Linton and Christian Matthews school. Likely candidates there are Montra Nelson (WR) who is currently an OSU commit, Donovan Vestal (DE), and Diamonte Wheeler (DT).
Lastly he didn't remember much but does recall playing against recent commit Jacoby Walker in the state playoffs two years ago down in Texas. Obviously it doesn't mean much but it seems like a lot of these guys know of each other and play against each other and I think it shows how this pipeline that the staff has worked to develop has the potential to be very much a self perpetuating deal.