Apr 28, 2012; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks wide receiver Kale Pick (7) in the first half of the Spring Game at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE
The wideout position has been a bit of a challenge for Kansas since the departure of Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier after the 2009 season. While Mark Mangino appeared to have brought in some solid talent, that talent has either stumbled through injury or failed to develop to the level of their predecessors. That's not a huge surprise considering the fact that Meier and Briscoe are two of the best to play the position at Kansas. It's also not a huge surprise considering the youth at the position and the constant change within the program.
Now Kansas has a hand full of upperclassman, some talented younger players and a fresh start with a new quarterback that can deliver the football. If there is ever the opportunity for some of these players to change their career path, now is the time.
Daymond Patterson - Patterson had the misfortune of sustaining a season ending injury in 2011. That may turn out to be a blessing in disguise as Patterson now has the opportunity to come full circle. He joined Kansas following the Orange Bowl season and played meaningful minutes right away as a freshman in 2008. In 2009 he was moved to defensive back before finding his way back to offense with the hiring of Turner Gill. It's been noted that Patterson was likely on the way out of Kansas had the initial coaching change not taken place. While the Gill era wasn't overwhelmingly positive for anyone, Patterson now has a chance to leave one final lasting impression with Kansas fans and be part of starting something new. Patterson and Crist are both on the same page and have been working together to make this last go a successful one for both parties. It would be a nice ending to the story if we could see some of that early career potential and spark return to Patterson in his final season.
- DJ Beshears - Beshears was pushed into a starting corner role as a freshman under Mangino in a desperation move that burned a valuable redshirt. Since that time Beshears has been one of the more productive offensive players for Kansas and he now enters his final season. Beshears is a competitor and it shows on the field at all times. It may come off as attitude in some instances but he has an edge to him that helps make him successful. This year he has more structure, hopefully more maturity and a better environment to channel that drive.
Kale Pick - Whether or not it was the right move in the long term, Pick's benching two and half quarters into his quarterback career was a poor move and one of many mishandled situations under Turner Gill. Honestly Kansas is fortunate that Pick made the decision to put his energy into the wideout position and hopefully Pick will benefit just as much in the end. Pick is drawing some heavy praise early on during camp and might actually approach the comparison's to a 'poor man's' Kerry Meier. If he can become a steady third down option and a consistent pass catcher for Crist, Pick will have represented Kansas well during his four years in the manner that you would expect an instate prospect to do.
Chris Omigie - Omigie is a bit of a wild card. He has tremendous size, he's been in the rotation for the last two seasons, but he never seems to breakout or show anything that leads you to believe he can be something more. He's once again front and center in the conversation so maybe this is the year, but having valuable role players is just as important as having stars so perhaps that is just the right place for Omigie in this program.
Josh Ford - 6'3" 210 and explosive. That is what Josh Ford is bringing to the table. This really could be a very valuable weapon in the Kansas offense if Ford can make the transition quickly from the junior college level to division one.
- Christian Matthews - Matthews has been talked about since he was a redshirt freshman. We've seen glimpses of great potential but he sometimes seems to get lost on gameday. The staff is working him in as a 'wildcat' quarterback according to early camp reports and he'll factor into the wideout competition. Matthews and Omigie are probably the two players that will really need to turn a corner this year if they want to leave a lasting impression.
Andrew Turzilli - Turzilli seems like a player who could have easily been lost in the shuffle due to a coaching change but he seems to have responded in a big way. He recorded the fastest forty time of all the wideouts, he's turned some heads in practice and he might just find himself moving up the depth chart with plenty of time left to impact the program.
- JaCorey Shepherd - Shepherd was a player as a true freshman. He showed great speed and is one of the Turner Gill recruits that paid dividends immediately. He's a little smaller than most of the roster at the position but his talent and athleticism speaks for itself. He's still young and the competition is pretty intense so he'll need to prove his value to another set of coaches if he wants to contribute in his sophomore season.
Ricki Herod - Herod was part of Turner Gill's first class but he's been hidden ever since. Herod has rarely seen the field and his name was constantly floating around the rumor mill as a player that would likely depart the program. He obviously did something to change that belief and he's on the team competing for minutes, but it looks like it could be an uphill climb this year given the depth.
- Connor Embree - Embree is a walk on and the son of Colorado coach Jon Embree. He has shown the ability to be a valuable contributor on special teams and could be serviceable if needed as a wideout.
Tre Parmalee - Parmalee had a coming out party at this past weekends fan appreciation day. It is just one practice but he's drawing comparisons to Charles Gordon and other players that might not have the measurables and great testing times, but they seem to understand the game and have football speed. Parmalee has a relationship with Weis and he's the son of a professional player so he'll be one to watch.
- Justin McCay - McCay didn't receive a hardship waiver from the NCAA despite the fact that several players in his situation did. It seems that the transfer within the conference was the only real difference. He'll be here next year competing for a starting job.
Right now the starters look to be the seniors, but it's interesting because all three seniors could fill a similar role. Does someone with more size step up and grab more minutes? Is Josh Ford the deep threat that he's been made out to be? Can JaCorey Shepherd keep his momentum going following a solid freshman campaign? This position has some very consistent players that produce and a host of players that haven't quite made the leap to the next level. There are going to be a lot of factors that change the landscape with this group and who responds will be a big question.