At the end of every season here at Rock Chalk Talk we go through and let you the reader select the readers choice award recipients for a variety of categories.
Using those awards as our starting point, let's continue with our preseason pick predictions and look at the defense.
The picture on the defensive side of the ball would appear a little less murky than the offense. Certainly there are plenty of questions as to whether the defense will perform well, but the leaders and potential MVP's have floated to the top a little more clearly than the candidates on offense.
- Laptad is one of the leaders defensively and one of the few known commodities on the defensive line. Since his freshman year Laptad has seen time and that experience and his ability should earn him consideration at the end of the year for defensive MVP. The biggest stumbling block might be that he is going to be the main focus for many teams up front.
- A year spent opposite Aqib Talib sent expectations through the roof for Harris as he looked like the next great thing at corner. Once that level of hype came back down to a reasonable level, Harris found himself lost in the endless shuffle of the corner position over the last two seasons. Can Harris regain his confidence and high level of play during his final year as a Jayhawk?
- As a true freshman Tharp was the fifth leading tackler on the team with 59. This year he's expected to step up to the plate and provide a big lift to a linebacking corps that many are questioning based on last season. Can Tharp stay healthy and contribute at a high level as a consistent starter?
- The other newcomer from a year ago, Smith jumped into the starting rotation in Boulder last year. Up until an injury against Texas Smith showed a tremendous amount of promise and should have a bright future. Just a redshirt Sophomore, Smith will need to pick up where he left off last year if the Kansas defensive backfield is going to be successful.
Preaseason Pick: Huldon Tharp
The biggest challenge here is finding the player that will be noticed most and make a big impact on a defense that has a high likelihood of struggling. At this point it's hard not to take a wait and see approach with a Kansas defense and with that in mind the most likely player to make that impact is likely coming from a position like linebacker.
Tharp has the speed and football instincts to be in and around the play. With a year under his belt Kansas needs him to raise the level of expectations for all of the linebackers on the team.
Tharp winning the award at the end of the year doesn't necessarily mean that Kansas has had a great season, but it's most likely the safest pick at this point.
What's your prediction RCT?
Darkhorse Picks: Justin Springer, Quinton Woods