Today marks the first day of Fall practices for many college programs across the country and the Kansas Jayhawks are one of those teams. Turner Gill is entering his second season with the Jayhawks and while the situation in terms of scheduling looks to be more difficult, Gill does seem to have a little more confidence in terms of what his team is going to bring to the table.
A big part of that is the extra year under the belt, another offseason and a general improvement in the comfort level by the players and the coaches in the program. The other piece could be the roster. Gill held out most of his freshman a season ago, the staff landed a strong recruiting class and Kansas returns a few players that spent last season injured. Some things could change between now and September 3rd but today we look at the Kansas roster for a quick position rundown heading into 2011.
There probably hasn't been a more talked about spot this offseason for a variety of reasons. The smart money has to be on Webb given the circumstances but it isn't easy to rule anyone out based on the struggles at the position a year ago. The good news is that Kansas has two more set to join this group a year from now and the competition and depth should continue to improve.
Fr - Anthony Pierson Fr - Darrian Miller
James Sims made a quick name for himself as a true freshman both with his play and his haircut. Now a sophomore Sims might face stiffer competition than he did in year one with the addition of some talented freshman and the return of Brandon Bourbon who redshirted a season ago. Miller and Pierson could both play as true freshman. Miller reported in the Spring and has a nice jump on the college game and Pierson has been described as a game changing athlete that might be tough to keep off the field.
So - Nick Sizemore RSFr - Josh Smith
Sizemore has been drawing a lot of praise from his teammates and the media as a player that is going to have an impact this season after sitting out due to transfer rules a year ago. With three seasons left and a running game being a critical piece to what Gill wants to do, Sizemore might end up being one of the more important additions immediately following Gill's arrival from Buffalo.
RSFr - Jimmay Mundine RSFr - Chris McEnaney Fr - Scott Baron
Biere is looking for a big splash in his final season with the Jayhawks and Jimmay Mundine was one of the most talked about scout team players on the offensive side of the ball a year ago.
A lot of options but not a lot of answers at the wideout position for Kansas. Daymond Patterson has shown flashes of his ability at the position but last season was a challenging year for the offense as a whole and in Patterson's instance he became the marked man for opposing defenses. Probably the most important area where this group can improve the team is from a blocking standpoint and that's an emphasis that has Kale Pick in a strong spot to see major minutes as the Jayhawks second Kansas QB/WR conversion project in recent memory. Overall this is a position that is wide open and it wouldn't be a surprise to see both true freshman see the field in 2011.
So - Josh Burgoon RSFr - Chad Kolumber Fr - Bryan Peters Fr - Dylan Admire Fr - Damon Martin
Fr - Luke Luhrson Fr - Travis Bodenstein Fr - Cooper Kerns
This is a critical position for Kansas if there is going to be improvement on the offensive side of the ball. Hatch has turned in the best offseason of his career. Zlatnik is labeled one of the strongest players on the team and someone who is taking on a strong leadership role. Spikes is healthy, the staff feels like Hawkinson is at a better position for him and Marrongelli, Howard and Spencer are all showing that they can compete on this level. With that in mind Kansas will have the depth and experience to keep the strong freshman class on the sidelines with a redshirt and lay the foundation for a strong future.
Sr - Pat Dorsey Sr - Richard Johnson Jr Jr - John Williams So - Kevin Young So - Shane Smith
This is definitely an area of concern for many fans and with the move to the 3-4 the lack of size becomes almost as concerning as the lack of depth. Dorsey and Johnson certainly deserve credit for what they were able to accomplish last year so perhaps a little benefit of the doubt should be granted. As for Williams it sounds as though he's added back on some of the weight that he dropped a year ago and is now listed at 305, while Young is up to 275 and back in good health.
Fr - Michael Reynolds Fr - Ben Goodman Fr - JaVonte Daniel
Toben Opurum enters the season with the highest expectations for this group while Keba Agostinho enters his sophomore year after starting as a true freshman. Lewandowski is a name that has received a lot of attention for his work during his redshirt season while Tyrone Sellers and DJ Marshall are two players that are still trying to break into the rotation after some early career ups and downs. It's a young group with some talent but at this point it's hard to point to much outside of Opurum and Agostinho in terms of known commodities.
Sr - Steven Johnson Sr - Brian Blackwell Jr - Isaac Wright Jr - Malcolm Walker Jr - Tunde Bakare
Fr - Jason Hensley Fr - Collin Garrett Fr - Blake Abbott Fr - Ryan Karlin
The Kansas staff went out and addressed the depth concerns at linebacker by adding a strong group of newcomers. That list includes both junior college talent and freshman for the future. The return of Huldon Tharp provides a big boost as does the eligibility of Darius Willis. Steven Johnson will be the senior and top returning tackler while Malcolm Walker and Tunde Bakare are two players that should make a strong push for starter minutes as well. Kansas will have a different look at the position in 2011.
Barfield is expected to return to his starting role despite limited action in the Spring. Patmon had a strong redshirt freshman season playing the majority of his minutes as the fifth defensive back and should be in a battle with Greg Brown and Anthony Davis for the second corner spot.
RSFr - Ray Mitchell Fr - Alex Matlock
McDougald and Terry are facing big expectations despite neither having played an entire season at the position last year. If both perform to the level that is expected it could set up the Kansas defensive backfield as the strongest unit on the team.
Fr - Tanner Gibas (LS)
Similar to a lot of spots on the roster the specialists appear to have a talent upgrade but not much in the way of experience. Mueller and Gibas stand to make the biggest impact if they reach their potential but that remains to be seen.