LINCOLN NE - NOVEMBER 13: Jared Crick #94 and Baker Steinkuhler #55 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers run down D.J. Beshears #20 of the Kansas Jayhawks during first half action of their game at Memorial Stadium on November 13 2010 in Lincoln Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Three years ago Kansas was graduating and saying goodbye to a pair of wideouts that left a huge mark on the program. They also said goodbye to a quarterback that was a pretty important piece to that puzzle as well.
Since then Kansas hasn't been able to regain their footing in the passing game on an even slightly comparable level. Not many expected the next Todd Reesing to walk through the door and few would have expected Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe type numbers, but Kansas was so far removed from that level so quickly that it was almost astonishing.
Enter into the picture a new staff and a head coach who has been around some of the best quarterbacks in the game. Also enter into the picture a former top two quarterback in the nation coming out of high school That has to paint a pretty picture if you're a Kansas wideout. This is a new era and a new opportunity to remake a career. The question is who takes advantage of it.
|7||Pick, Kale||6-1.5||205||Wide Receiver||SR (3L)||Dodge City, Kan./Dodge City HS|
Kale Pick enters his third season as a wideout and this will be his final year in a Jayhawk uniform. He's probably unfairly been held to the Kerry Meier standard just because of the similarities in their stories. The fact is that Meier is a bit of a one of a kind player and he came along when we had a one of a kind quarterback. That said, Pick has one final season and this year he could have the offense and the quarterback that will help him elevate his game to the next level.
|15||Patterson, Daymond||5-8||178||Wide Receiver||SR (3L)||Mesquite, Texas/North Mesquite HS|
Patterson went down early last season due to injury, but it might just be a blessing in disguise. After bouncing around from offense to defense early in his career, Patterson hasn't ever been used in the way that he is probably most effective. Receivers can help make an offense, but a quarterback can also be exponentially influential on a receivers career. Patterson will now get one last go around in a season where Kansas is building and not falling apart. If things go remotely well and trend in a positive direction, it will feel as though Patterson's career has almost come full circle.
|20||Beshears, D.J.||5-9||185||Wide Receiver||SR (2L)||Denton, Texas/Ryan HS|
Beshears is a player and he was a player in a Kansas offense that struggled in a big way over the last two seasons. There's nothing to say that it's going to instantly improve, but Beshears will be a big part of whatever plan unfolds. He's explosive, competitive and he's worked through a lot during his career.
|83||Omigie, Chris||6-4||202||Wide Receiver||JR (2L)||Arlington, Texas/Martin HS|
Omigie has yet to breakthrough so to speak. He's a big receiver, but Turner Gill emphasized speed over size and that might be what makes this coaching change a turning point in his career. It's far from a guarantee but Omigie fits more closely with the mold that Charlie Weis has targeted and had success with. In a pro-style offense he has the size to be a possession receiver and help move the chains. Now he just has to prove himself.
|88||McGriff, Erick||6-1.5||214||Wide Receiver||JR (1L)||Tampa, Fla./Jesuit HS|
McGriff checks in this year a bit smaller than we've always been led to believe. Still he has decent size, but we really haven't ever seen anything from him on gameday. With two years left he'll have to make that first impression count.
|12||Matthews, Christian||6-1||200||Wide Receiver||JR (2L)||Arlington, Texas/James Bowie HS|
Matthews is someone that has drawn rave reviews during past offseasons and then never quite seemed to live up to the hype during the year. That's doesn't all rest on his shoulders as the offense as a whole has been pretty abysmal in the passing game for the better part of his career. Now he's reproving himself to a new staff and if he can do that he has the athleticism to make plays and he'll have that opportunity.
|82||Turzilli, Andrew||6-3.5||185||Wide Receiver||SO (1L)||Butler, N.J./Butler HS|
It's still to early to tell what to expect from Turzilli. He did play in limited action during the 2011 season and registered his first collegiate touchdown against Georgia Tech. Like Omigie he's a a big target and he needs to take advantage of a different philosophy under a new staff.
|89||Shepherd, JaCorey||5-11||185||Wide Receiver||SO (1L)||Mesquite, Texas/Mesquite Horn HS|
Shepherd made some very positive plays during his freshman season before fading a bit late. Much of that has to do with the entire offense fading late in the year so he will certainly push for time from the get go. Shepherd has the talent and the tools to be a nice target for Dayne Crist but obviously everyone has a clean slate and this a position with a lot of players fighting for playing time.
|19||McCay, Justin||6-2||215||Wide Receiver||SO (TR)||Kansas City, Mo./Bishop Miege HS/Oklahoma|
It's still unknown as to whether or not McCay will play this year but he's going through spring ball and Kansas is a second chance and a new beginning. Obviously McCay was highly recruited out of high school, but his Oklahoma career didn't set the world on fire. The change of scenery gives him a chance to prove himself again and he probably has a little extra advantage considering he is one of Weis's early recruiting successes.
|81||Jackson, Marquis||6-0||218||Wide Receiver||SO (1L)||Fort Worth, Texas/Arlington Heights HS|
Weis indicated in his press conference yesterday that Jackson is moving to running back due to the depth at receiver.
|80||Herod, Ricki||6-2||190||Wide Receiver||SO (SQ)||Mesquite, Texas/North Mesquite HS|
Herod is one of the players that is said to have 'earned' his way onto the team last fall when Weis came in and attempted to rectify some of the internal issues. If that's true, that's a great testament to him and what is hopefully a turning point in his career. He generated some excitement during his recruitment, but everyone is still waiting to see how that translates to the field. This spring is pretty critical for him.
|22||Embree, Connor||5-10||186||Wide Receiver||SO (TR)||Superior, Colo./Blue Valley West HS/UNLV|
Embree comes from a strong football pedigree and transferred to Kansas as a preferred walk on to play under Gill. Obviously circumstances have changed, but he comes from a competitive family and a football family so regardless of the odds you can expect him to compete. Honestly I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him bring some value to the team at some point.
Josh Ford - 6'4" 200 Jr
Ford will join the team this summer as a fairly notable junior college transfer. Had he been a mid year graduate he likely would have ended up at Miami or possibly Maryland, but the fact that he had to wrap up this spring means that he'll be a Jayhawk. He has excellent size, excellent speed and he'll be an immediate candidate to start and provide Dayne Crist with a big explosive target.
During his first press conference Charlie Weis didn't seem too thrilled with any position on the field and that certainly seemed to be the case at receiver despite the perceived depth. Once you get past the quantity and the perceived potential it really is a situation where Kansas has very little in the way of proven talent at the position.
The good news is that Weis recently moved a player from the position because the competition was stiff. That would seem to indicate that he is seeing some positive signs and perhaps some of that potential is being realized by players who had been a bit lost in a mediocre to bad offense over the past two seasons.
Throw in a veteran offensive line and what could potentially be a game changer at quarterback and perhaps this is going to mark a turning point for some of these players on the field...at least that's the hope right?