This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.
Here's a topic that could present a little bit of a challenge for everyone. There are so many great favorite players in recent memory. Kerry Meier, Todd Reesing, Dezmon Briscoe all come to mind. Who could forget the overachieving types like Kevin Kane or Nick Reid. Dez Briscoe, Anthony Collins, Aqib Talib might be three players that appeal to the flashier crowd.
Some might even look back further. June Henley, LT Levine, Tony Sands. Or...way way back with the likes of John Riggins, Nolan Cromwell, Bobby Dsouglass or even Gale Sayers and John Hadl.
Without a doubt there are some great Jayhawks. Say what you will about the tradition or lack thereof at Kansas in the football department, there have been some great ones.
For today I'll try to go a little more obscure. I'll take players that made an impression on me in a game I actually watched. To kick that off, I have to give the nod to David Winbush. In 1998 I made the trip from Illinois, across Missouri without stopping and into Lawrence where the Jayhawks would take on the Colorado Buffaloes. Colorado was ranked 18th in the country at the time and Kansas wasn't supposed to win this one. In fact the Jayhawks were 0-5 in the conference at the time.
What happened? Well David Winbush exploded for 268 yards on the ground in the most impressive running performance I had ever seen in person. The funny thing is, Winbush wasn't truly considered the primary back. He was undersized, only 5'7", and normally split time with Mitch Bowles. Bowles was injured, both starting quarterbacks were knocked out early, and Winbush took over. His 268 yards represented the most ever given up by a Buffalo team in history at the time and it's certainly possible that record remains today.
The next player that I can remember being very impressed in watching and one I wish we still had was Charlton Keith. Since his final season with Kansas, the Jayhawk pass rush hasn't been the same. The importance of speed off the edge cannot be understated in today's game and Kieth was a great pickup and a solid contributor for Kansas during the rebuilding process with Mangino.
The game and play that will always stick in my mind is the 2005 Fort Worth Bowl. Keith would record 8 tackles and one pretty incredible pick six in a nice win for the Jayhawks over the Houston Cougars.
The last player I would view as a favorite would have to be Brandon McAnderson. Quite simply there was just no reason in the world that he should have been a legitimate running option in the Big 12. He worked hard, waited his turn and never gave up.
His senior season was a miracle in a lot of ways both individually and for the team. The first time I actually saw McAnderson play was in high school and the funny thing is, everyone there thought he'd make a great linebacker at Kansas. Turns out he made a great Jayhawk, just at the position of his choosing and not the position everyone wanted to force him into.
There's my story and I'm sticking to it. Three players that weren't the most heralded, but they left a mark on me for finding a way to get it done at a high level despite doubters, struggles and less than ideal physical gifts.
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