OK, once we profile our defensive ends we will finally be done with the defense. The WR preview will start later on tonight...
Last year, the lack of pressure the defensive ends could muster no doubt had an impact on the passing game. The blame doesn't fall on their shoulders by any means, but pressure can make a lot of mediocre secondaries look good. Last year's two main producers, now-graduated Paul Como and junior Russell Brorsen combined for 76 tackles and 9 sacks. While not stellar, that is pretty good production and with our secondary improved due to the extra year of experience, the same production from this year's starters would go a long way in improving the passing defense.
Besides Brorsen, a returning starter, the Jayhawks also bring back John Larson, a redshirt junior who is the favorite to start opposite Brorsen, and Jeff Wheeler. Wheeler is a physical specimen, standing 6'7" tall and weighing only 260 pounds. Plus, he is only a redshirt sophomore so he has age on his side. While he will be in a reserve role this season, I wouldn't be surprised to see him grap a starting job starting next year and possibly even see some All-Big 12 action. In addition, a redshirt freshman former linebacker has converted to D-End to help out. Max Onyegbule (On-yay-boo-lay) figures to be a speed rusher, and will likely see the field mainly in passing downs. Overall, defensive end has plenty of depth and with all of it returning next year, it could be one of the better units in the Big 12 next year.
With how deep this group is, it is hard to believe that any recruit will see significant playing time. Jake Laptad, a 2 star recruit from Oklahoma, and Richard Johnson Jr., a 3 star from Jeff City, figure to see little time on the field. While both candidates to earn time on special teams, their defensive end careers likely won't really take off until next season. I would also imagine that one of them would be redshirted, although that is just speculation on my part.
2007 Defensive End Depth Chart, * denotes starter
1) Russell Brorsen, Jr.
2) John Larson, Jr.
3) Jeff Wheeler, RS Soph.
4) Max Onyegbule, RS Fresh.
5) Richard Johnson Jr., Fresh.
2008 Defensive End Depth Chart, * denotes starter
1) Russell Brorsen, Sr.
2) Jeff Wheeler, RS Jr.
3) John Larson, Sr.
4) Max Onyegbule, RS Soph.
5) Richard Johnson Jr., Soph.
6) Jake Laptad, RS Fresh.^
^ Just my guess that he redshirts this season, otherwise he would be a sophomore next season.
Next Up: Wide Receiver