Charlie Weis released his first depth chart of the 2013 football season yesterday afternoon. The two deep, or three deep in some cases, includes a few surprises and what Weis feels is a much better product on paper to start the year.
The first and most notable personnel change was the move to center by Pat Lewandowski. Dylan Admire had been believed by many fans as the heir apparent at the position, but some of the late junior college recruiting on the offensive line front should have given at least a little hint to the fact that the offensive line was still an area of concern heading into spring. Admire is still listed at 6'3" 280 pounds which means he hasn't added probably as much weight as Weis likes up front. Lewandowski is a big body that has moved from the defensive line to left tackle and now to the interior. At nearly 6'6" and 295 pounds, Weis seems to want to find a way to get him on the field.
The rest of the offensive line is rounded out by Aslam Sterling, Ngala Fusimaholi, Mike Smithburg and Riley Spencer. The first three are obviously junior college additions with Sterling having a year under his belt in the program. Spencer's return is a good sign for an oft injured player but he will find a big challenge arriving on campus Saturday in Pearce Slater. If Spencer can stay healthy it would be a nice story to see him win the spot, but Slater is a very viable insurance policy if that doesn't work out.
No major surprises at the tight end or wideout positions but the new 'F' position is interesting in that it includes two very different players in Tony Pierson and Brandon Bourbon. It's pretty obvious that Weis feels like he has a lot of talent between these two and his backfield of James Sims and Darrian Miller.
Defensively the biggest news is that the base set appears to be the nickel. This is a shift from last season but it gives Dave Campo an opportunity to get nearly all of his talented haul of junior college defensive backs on the field. The starting defensive backfield at this time includes JaCorey Shepherd, Isaiah Johnson, Cassius Sendish, Dexter McDonald and Dexter Linton. The staff is still waiting on but expecting Kevin Short and he can plug into a variety of positions. The Jayhawks have good size and some solid athletes in this group so this will be a competitive area in practice.
Keon Stowers, Marquel Combs and Keba Agostinho are on the one line of the defensive front with Ben Goodman starting at the 'buck' position. Andrew Bolton and Jordan Tavai would be two very capable backups and will certainly push for starter minutes as camp progresses.
No major surprises at linebacker as Ben Heeney and Jake Love bring a blue collar aggressive style back to the position.
The kicking duties will be shifted to a pair of new faces with Trevor Pardula handling punting and kickoff duties while Michael Mesh handles the placekicking. Return specialists are open right now with a TBD note next to it. Looks like there's an opportunity to get on the field for someone showing a spark.
All in all it's an exciting snapshot of what this team looks like heading into Fall. This team isn't going to get respect from anyone until they show it on the field, but it's hard not to be a little more optimistic about where this team is starting from this Fall compared to last.