It's been all too clear that, since the departure of Mark Mangino as head coach at Kansas, the football program has been unable to put together a winning team. However, I recently got to wondering if one could even piece together a winning team using only our best players of the past four years. This ultimately led me to: The All-Post-Mangino team. With preseason All-Conference squads peppering the headlines as media days get started, I decided to put together a Kansas-centric (albeit depressing) squad. The player pool is simple. I picked exclusively from Kansas players who played for the team in or after 2010, with the exception of seniors who played only in 2010. Guys like Chris Harris did all their development and played the bulk of their PT in the more successful Mangino years, and I wanted to limit this list to players who were either recruited by Gill or Weis, or saw the bulk of their development and playing time under the two regimes.
Now, follow me into the pool of mediocrity that is our best players from the last few years
|QB||Jordan Webb||DL||Keba Agostinho|
|RB||James Sims||DL||Jordan Tavai|
|RB||Tony Pierson||DL||Keon Stowers|
|WR||Daymond Patterson||BUCK||Toben Opurum|
|WR||Kale Pick||LB||Steven Johnson|
|TE||Tim Biere||LB||Ben Heeney|
|OL||Tanner Hawkinson||LB||Jake Love|
|OL||Jeremiah Hatch||CB||Greg Brown|
|OL||Trevor Marrongelli||CB||Tyler Patmon|
|OL||Duane Zlatnik||S||Bradley McDougald|
|OL||Aslam Sterling||S||Isaiah Johnson|
Quarterback - JORDAN WEBB
I don't know which is sadder, the fact that Webb gets the nod here, or the fact that it wasn't particularly close. Crist and Heaps came in with some fanfare, but each was benched for an underclassman after posting sub-100 QB ratings. Kale Pick was barely given a chance, so it was down to Webb and Quinn Mecham. Webb wasn't particularly good, but but considering what we've seen the last two years, he wasn't awful, either. Between 2010 and 2011, Webb completed 300 of 495 passes (60%) for 3078 yards. He was able to toss 20 TD passes, but unfortunately threw just as many picks. He was also at the helm for four Jayhawk victories. Sadly, Jordan Webb is a no-brainer here.
Running Back - JAMES SIMS
There's no shame in this pick. Sims finished his career the Jayhawk's third ranked all-time rusher, and posted back-to-back 1000 yard seasons in his last two years. He was also picked first team All-Big 12 as a senior. Sims was a legitimate talent, and probably would have posted some fantastic numbers given an opportunity with better teams.
Running Back - TONY PIERSON
Though Pierson made the switch to wide receiver last year, he played running back in his first two seasons, and played it very well, racking up 396 yards as a freshman, and 760 yards (6.5 yards per carry) as a sophomore, while grabbing 21 passes for 291. Pierson is another legitimate talent and though he had issues with head injuries last year, is a tool that any team in the Big 12 would be happy to have.
Wide Receiver - DAYMOND PATTERSON
In his 2010 junior campaign, Patterson hauled in 60 passes for the Jayhawks, which is more than every wide receiver on the roster combined last year. Across his years under Gill and Weis, he was the closest thing we had to a playmaker at the position, finishing with 84 catches and 690 yards. The highlight of his career was probably his touchdown catch in the Georgia Tech upset in 2010, where he pinballed off multiple defenders and somersaulted into the endzone.
Wide Receiver - KALE PICK
Pick isn't a very impressive option here, but his production actually blows anything we saw last year out of the water. After converting to wide receiver midway through his sophomore year in 2010, Pick finished his career hauling in 63 passes for 751 yards. Both marks are higher than any other receiver has posted in the last four years.
Tight End - TIM BIERE
A pretty easy pick here, though purely as a receiver, Mundine is probably a slightly better option. However, Biere was a very solid blocker at the tight end spot, and got some consideration from the NFL at the position. Between '10 and '11, Biere was productive in the passing game despite being asked to help block much of the time, totaling 46 receptions for 650 yards and 6 scores.
Offensive Line - TANNER HAWKINSON
Hawk was a no-brainer in this slot. As a four-year starter, he was a reliable anchor for the line at left tackle, and is currently a member of the Cincinnati Bengals after being drafted in the 5th round in 2012.
Offensive Line - JEREMIAH HATCH
Hatch started all but one game of Turner Gill's tenure after being a mainstay on the line in the last two years of Mangino's. Hatch wasn't extraordinary, but gave us a solid center week in and week out during his time at Kansas.
Offensive Line - TREVOR MARRONGELLI
Marrongelli was a mean blocker and a mainstay on the line between 2010 and 2012. A leg injury would keep him from starting every game in '10, but never missed another in his career, and moved over to center in 2012 to take over for Hatch. Marrongelli struggled at times in pass blocking, but was known for driving defenders back against the run.
Offensive Line - DUANE ZLATNIK
Zlatnik was fairly unremarkable on the line, but started 32 games from 2010-12 and picked up an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention nod his senior season. While never a pro prospect, Zlatnik did his job on the line and provided consistency.
Offensive Line - ASLAM STERLING
Though the line has generally started to fall apart the last two years, Sterling did his part, playing in every game after coming in as a juco transfer prior to 2012. Despite his reliability, Sterling is not the caliber of player you'd like to see on a list like this one.
Defensive Line - KEBA AGOSTINHO
Agostinho had the misfortune of playing all four years in the post-Mangino era, but made the most of his time here. He notched a surprising 90 total tackles during that time, with 9.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. Agostinho is probably a guy you'd like to see on the fringe of making a list like this, rather than being a leading candidate, but there's no denying he had a productive career at a position where Kansas has suffered from a lot of depth and talent concerns.
Defensive Line - JORDAN TAVAI
Tavai gave us two years after transferring in from the Juco ranks, and while he wasn't prolific, he did manage to rack up 50 tackles, 6 of them for a loss. He played the bulk of his time as an interior lineman, so being in on so many plays is an accomplishment.
Defensive Line - KEON STOWERS
Stowers really came into his own last year, being named a team captain, starting all 12 games at nose tackle, notching 26 tackles (3 for loss), forcing two fumbles and even intercepting a pass. By the end of his senior campaign this year, I think he'll have proven himself the top d-lineman of the past 5 years for this team (for what that's worth).
BUCK - TOBEN OPURUM
The "buck" position Kansas uses was essentially created for Opurum, who had an explosive first step and a knack for disrupting things in the backfield. He played the position for three years and amassed 7.5 sacks. He also broke up 7 passes, notched 10 QB hurries and forced 4 fumbles on his way to 109 tackles (19.5 for loss).
Linebacker - STEVEN JOHNSON
Johnson came out of nowhere in 2010, racking up 97 tackles. He only improved on that performance his senior year, with a Big 12-leading 119 stops. He would end up working his way from Kansas walk-on to free agent signee with the Denver Broncos.
Linebacker - BEN HEENEY
Steven Johnson was succeeded at middle linebacker by Ben Heeney, who has probably turned out to be the better player. Heeney has led the team in tackles for two straight years (despite missing games to injury last season) and found himself on the first team of the preseason All-Big 12 list going into this year. He also has a website devoted to him.
Linebacker - JAKE LOVE
Not as strong a player here at the third linebacker spot. Love has been consistently solid for Kansas, totaling 94 tackles (11 for loss) in the last two seasons, playing every game. Love lacks the speed to be considered a high level talent, but he has a nose for the ball and brings back memories of a number of Mangino-era linebackers who fit the same description.
Cornerback - GREG BROWN
Brown actually looked pretty bad in 2010. He was a solid tackler for a corner, and coaches raved about his athleticism, and he was generally able to stay with his man in coverage, but he seemed to lack awareness of where the ball was and how to actually prevent the receiver from catching it. After showing some signs of improvement in 2011, Brown had a very strong senior season, notching 75 tackles, breaking up 12 passes and picking off two. Brown even earned himself a look at an NFL spot with a couple of teams last year, though he would not end up sticking.
Cornerback - TYLER PATMON
Though he transferred to Oklahoma State for his senior season, and though I think both Jacorey Shepherd and Dexter McDonald may be better when all is said and done, I gave this spot to Patmon for now. Across three years, Patmon broke up 22 passes, sacked two QBs, notched 11.5 tackles for loss, registered 143 tackles and 6 interceptions. In short, he was all over the field. Again, I think both our current cover corners are probably better, but I went with sample size here
Safety - BRADLEY McDOUGALD
This one is pretty much impossible to argue against. McDougald is another Jayhawk who got a look from the NFL but hasn't stuck to a roster. After switching back and forth between offense and defense for his first two years, McDougald found a permanent home at safety as a junior, and took off immediately. He was a ball hawk, picking off 5 passes in those two years and forcing 3 fumbles, while amassing 181 tackles. McDougs would end up a second team All-Big 12 safety his senior year.
Safety - ISAIAH JOHNSON
I'm going with a one-year (so far) player here because of the impact he had last season. He was named the Big 12's Defensive Newcomer of the Year after picking off 5 passes, registering 76 tackles (3 for loss), despite being a sophomore in his first season of D1 football. Lubbock Smith and Dexter Linton got some consideration, but Johnson already appears to be ahead of them in talent by a decent margin.
Kicker - RON DOHERTY
Going through these options made me cringe. Despite losing his job as placekicker in 2012, he got it back by default last year after Matthew Wyman started missing extra points. He has made only 11 of 17 career field goal attempts, but gets the nod here because he's only missed one PAT.
Punter - TREVOR PARDULA
While Doherty wasn't too bad a punter for us, Pardula was legitimately good last year, averaging just under 44 yards per punt, the highest average by a Kansas punter since before 2007.
Kick Returner - DJ BESHEARS
Beshears is the school's all-time leader in kickoff return yardage, which is really more of a testament to how frequently opponents got to kick off to us than anything else. That said, no one stands out here, so DJ automatically gets the spot.
Punt Returner - Connor Embree
All I can really say here is that he's our first punt returner to average double digit yards per return since 2008, so there really isn't anyone else to put here
Normally with a list like this, I would ask for input on who was left out, or who shouldn't be on the list. While I welcome that input here, the bigger question is this: given a team of the very best players of the Gill and Weis years to date, how good would we be? Does the team I've assembled win conference road games? Could they make it to a bowl game and have a winning season? Or is this just a grouping of mediocre players that wouldn't get us much further than what we've seen since 2010?
Personally, I think this team would be competitive, and probably win six-ish games in an average year for the Big 12, but that's it. Quarterback and receiver are weaknesses, and you can't really find five truly good linemen from this pool of players. Defensively, the line also has problems, though I do like the back seven. Special teams, obviously, would still be a disaster outside of punting.
So after seeing the list, what are your thoughts?