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Diving A Little Deeper Into Position Changes and The Depth Chart

Yesterday the Kansas football fan world was fed.  After stumbling through most of August with little or no direction the depth chart was released, position changes were announced and the starting quarterback was named.

It marked one of the first time since training camp started that a report wasn't full of generalities or bad news in many cases.  The depth chart represented progress, one more step toward North Dakota State and a snapshot of what's shaping up for the Kansas Jayhawks in 2010.

Initial reaction primarily revolved around the position change of Toben Opurum and the naming of Kale Pick as the starter.  Twelve hours later with dust still settling and a chance to chew on things a little further, what are the storylines and positive indicators from the first depth chart of the 2010 season.

The Mangino Doghouse and Second Chances

Everyone's heard of it at this point.  The Mangino doghouse.  Certain players who never seem to catch on, or players who had shown potential suddenly disappear.  Obviously it can't all be the wrath of Mangino as several of those said players have since found there way out of the Turner Gill led program, but with this new depth chart there does appear to be a few players that have flourished with the change. Players that perhaps truly did have something to contribute all along but somewhere along the way fell out of favor.

Steven Foster represents the first and probably the most obvious player in this regard.  With Foster it may not even have been the doghouse but perhaps just a bad fit.  Kansas didn't use a fullback and everywhere else that he seemed to move just didn't work out. 

During spring ball with Coach Gill, Foster had struck a major chord with the new coach and looked to be primed for a push for minutes.  A mid summer slump and a brief hiatus left doubts, but hats off to the Kansas native as he's rallied, put in the work and is the starting fullback on the depth chart. 

Olaitan Oguntodo is another player that stands out.  Most probably won't remember it, but he played in nine games as a true freshman only to disappear for the next three years.  Now in his final season of eligibility he appears to be in a spot to contribute by beating out Prinz Kande for the starting strong safety position.  For the better part of two years his name has been tossed around as a solution at a variety of positions and someone who should see the field.  Here's hoping this is a second chance that works out for the player and the team.

Athleticism is the Name of the Game

Turner Gill talked about improving team speed and putting Kansas in a position to compete athletically with other teams in the future.  Looking at some of the names on the depth chart, he's making a push to do that immediately.

Isiah Barfield and Greg Brown are two players at corner that have never appeared this high on the depth chart, in fact Barfield has rarely appeared at the same position for more than two weeks in the past two seasons.  If there is one thing these two clearly provide when talking to anyone connected with the program, it's speed and athleticism.  If Kansas is going to press more and play tighter in coverage, they are going to need guys like this.

Daymond Patterson and DJ Beshears are two players offensively who very clearly represent this shift as well.  Recent Kansas teams have rarely featured a player like either of these two in the slot and the mismatches they can create are going to prove valuable.  Beshears has reportedly clocked in the 4.3 range on his forty time and has also been used in whatever the Kansas version of the wildcat has been called.  Meanwhile Patterson has been one of the most consistent high performers through camp.

The Utility Position

AJ Steward is listed first on the depth chart at the utility position and sign me up for the fan club.  I like what he brings to the table in terms of size and ability and like Foster he just hasn't had a home until now.  Jimmay Mundine is a potential great player for the future here and if Kansas truly uses this the way other programs do, then it will be a welcome opportunity to see this type of player get involved and contribute.

Defensive End

It's just names on paper, but for some reason this depth chart puts me much more at ease about the position.  Jake Laptad is a player on the strongside that can contribute the majority of the snaps and Kevin Young could slide over if needed.  In addition Keba Agostinho has impressed plenty of people at camp so far.  He's still just a freshman, but having an option to spill Laptad is what Kansas is looking for.

On the weakside the three way battle between Tyrone Sellers, Kevin Young and Quinton Woods in encouraging.  It's especially encouraging considering four months ago most would have the order flipped.  Sellers has added good weight and kept his speed, Kevin Young is definitely improved physically and Woods still has that potential to be a pass rusher when needed.

Receiver Depth

It's not a surprise at all, but when you put it on paper the depth, the quality and the youth at receiver is impressive.  Christian Matthews will have the opportunity to put his mark on Kansas before it's all said and done.  Chris Omigie and Erick McGriff are both in the discussion and after the season, Kansas really only loses one, maybe two players out of the eight listed. 

Defensive Tackle

This is one of the areas that still raises a red flag for me.  Kansas has Pat Dorsey and Richard Johnson starting.  Yes both have overachieved in a lot of respects and if they are performing the best in camp then it's 100% the right move.  What's concerning is not seeing Darius Parish push for minutes on the two deep and John Williams flying below the radar.  Kansas needs those players to step up and provide real size at the position for the Big 12 conference run.

On the bright side, it is good to see Randall Dent making strides.

Linebacker Depth

This is the other concern and it's been covered ad nauseum.  I'm sold on the starters after being reassured from every angle under the sun, at least I'm cautiously optimistic.  I also think we can find some suitable second tier players, but do they ALL have to be walk ons?  I like Peterman, Coach Gill has praised Mestan, but where is Josh Richardson or Dakota Lewis?  Let's hope Toben can make a quick transition and contribute by conference play at some level or better yet, let Peterman, Mestan and maybe even Dakota Lewis surprise me and watch Toben take a redshirt leaving him three years left at the position after the switch.

Offensive Line

Last comment, who doesn't like this group?  Hawkinson, Zlatnik and Capra anchoring the center through left tackle positions as local players going to a local program.  Trevor Marrongelli on the right side with his aggressive style, playing right along side Brad Thorson who is a smart player and someone who can be a vocal leader on the team. 

Moving on to next year even you have Riley Spencer waiting in the wings at right tackle.  Jeff Spikes returning.  Jeremiah Hatch will hopefully respond to his current challenge and Kansas is once again positioned to have solid depth and good competition across the offensive line while the six incoming recruits take a year to develop and prepare physically for their turn.