UPDATE: As expected, Turner Gill announced that defensive end Travis Stephens is no longer with the team due to academic reasons.
This afternoon kicks off the first practice of the Kansas Jayhawk football season and with practice let the question answering begin.
After reporting yesterday, a few team meetings and some team bonding time at Dave and Busters, it's time to get down to business. What are the most pressing questions needing answers? Defensive line certainly fits the bill.
In order to take pressure of the linebackers and give the defensive backfield a reasonable shot at covering the field, the defensive line has to be productive. Is Kansas ready? Beyond the top level talent, is their enough depth to be effective? It certainly could be a concern.
Defensive Tackle? Depth is the problem and it may not be getting any better.
Defensive tackle has three players that saw the field at the position a year ago. Pat Dorsey, Richard Johnson Jr and John Williams. Dorsey stands just 6' weighing 273. Johnson and Williams are both bigger in stature but even Johnson checks in at just 283. At the end of the day the smart money is on Willams and Johnson to start, the two have been solid during their time at Kansas, but the concern is the depth. Darius Parish is back at the position, but he has plenty of work to do before Kansas is going to see the major payoff from his potential
Others in the mix, Randall Dent and Shane Smith, both redshirt freshman and complete unknowns. The problem right now is that no one can reasonably expect Dorsey, Johnson and Williams to take every snap, Kansas needs to find some minutes from someone and right now the answers aren't jumping off the page.
Defensive End? Again, depth is the name of the game. To rely on the incoming freshman might be a bit of a stretch. Keba Agostinho, Jaqwaylin Arps and Pat Lewandowski may have a future on the Jayhawk defense, but they likely aren't near term solutions. Julius Green looks physically ready on paper, but he's yet to arrive on campus as he waits for clearance from the NCAA.
Beyond the top level however, the Jayhawks need to find some bodies. Is Tyrone Sellers ready to see the field? His freshman year was full of position shuffling and a struggle to add weight. He's listed at 230 now, most likely he'll need to contribute at some point.
DJ Marshall is the other name out there, but after an offseason spent battling Hodgkins Lymphoma it's just great news to see him back on the roster. More than likely Kansas goes four deep at the position, unless the staff can find a freshman that they think is ready to play.
Right now, any potential injury could be fairly devastating.
Answers aren't readily available at either position with camp kicking off this afternoon. The loss of Jamal Greene proved a major blow. Follow that up with the unfortunate news surrounding Jeremiah Edwards and go back even further to the recruiting class and the last minute loss of Geneo Grissom.
Kansas now sits in a position where they have plenty of work to do. They have the players to put together a starting unit, but the dropoff appears steep and about the only good news to come out of that is that some unknown is likely going to have an opportunity to make a name if they can contribute when called upon.