While I haven't seen anything official announced, Rivals' Kansas-centric site Jayhawk Slant posted a depth chart on Saturday. The first game-week depth chart always generates some chatter each summer, but this year it's especially interesting because head coach David Beaty went through all of spring and fall camp without ever releasing one, leaving us to guess at which young players were making the biggest impacts, and who we'd actually be seeing on the field once the season began.
Below is the depth chart that Jayhawk Slant posted. There are actually quite a few surprises, which I'll go over below the chart.
Starting quarterback is no surprise, with Cozart having been announced as the starter last week. However, the backup QB spot is of some interest. After recent reports showed juco transfer Deondre Ford pushing Montell Cozart for the starting job, it's actually true freshman Ryan Willis listed in the backup role ahead of Ford. This isn't a total shock, as Beaty has been very complimentary of Willis dating back to some remarks at media days, but seeing a true freshman QB as the first backup speaks to just how highly the staff thinks of Willis.
It's long been suggested that Ke'aun Kinner would step right into the starting RB role, and that seems to be exactly what has happened. The only surprise at running back is the total absence of sixth-year senior Taylor Cox, who has done some nice things in the past when healthy. Joshua Stanford was basically a shoe-in to start at the suddenly-thin wide receiver position, and there was plenty of speculation that Parmalee would lock down a spot by virtue of being a senior. The most interesting thing here is true freshman Steven Sims earning a starting job. His name had rarely come up until the last week or two, when staff and media members started raving about his speed and how quickly he was picking up the position. UAB transfer Quincy Perdue predicatably finds himself on the two-deep, along with relatively unknown sophomores Derrick Neal and Bobby Hartzog, plus one more true freshman in Jeremiah Booker. Ben Johnson starts at tight end, but is likely to split snaps fairly evenly with Kent Taylor.
The o-line features no big surprises. Shelly-Smith, Mazyck and Haughton all started at one time or another last year, and Banks and Peters were working with the first team pretty much throughout camp.
Ben Goodman was a given at strong side DE, but it sounds like the hype around Damani Mosby looking good in camp was real enough, as he won out the weakside starting job over fellow redshirt juco transfer Anthony Olobia. TJ Semke is likely to see playing time as well. Fletcher and Wise have worked with the ones throughout fall camp, and were assumed to be the starters. Miami transfer Corey King may not have done enough to take a starting spot, but he is listed as the backup to Fletcher and will likely see snaps right away.
Roberts and Arnick were also the predicted linebackers after Jake Love announced his retirement, but the backup situation at linebacker is intriguing. Kyron Watson came to Kansas last year as arguably their most hyped recruit, but finds himself third on the depth chart behind Joe Dineen. The same Joe Dineen who was a safety-turned-emergency-running-back last year, and played quarterback in high school. Maybe Dineen is blowing people away in camp, but I'm thinking this is bad news for Watson, who many counted on to step up and be a big-time playmaker on this defense.
The secondary also goes according to plan, with Stewart and Miller, the two corners garnering the most talk through camp, starting, while Matthew Boateng, who improved quite a bit and started to hold his own toward the end of his true freshman season in 2014, will serve as the primary backup. Fish Smithson is a team captain and no surprise at free safety, though it was a mild surprise to see spring game standout Bazie Bates on the second team, while Greg Allen, who won the starting nickelback spot at the end of last year, will start. I would still count on Bates seeing plenty of snaps. Michael Glatczak, a walk-on who played some special teams last year, was a new name on the depth chart behind Smithson. Tevin Shaw has long been penciled in as the nickelback.
Special teams was a total shock to me. Matthew Wyman has been up and down as the starting placekicker the last two years, but was assumed to continue in that role this year. Apparently juco transfer Nick Bartolotta was able to beat him out for those duties to start 2015. Eric Kahn was expected to punt for Kansas after being Trevor Pardula's backup last year, but walk-on Ruben Guzman appears to have come out of nowhere to take over the job. Neither Wyman or Kahn was a particularly exciting kicker, so I doubt fans will be too disappointed that they find themselves on the two-line.
Steven Sims, Jr. appears on the depth chart for a second time as the lead kick returner, a further testament to his speed. Speed seems to be the key at the position for this staff, who picked three of the other reported faster players on the team to back up in true freshman receiver Emmanuel Moore, Ke'aun Kinner, and burner Taylor Martin. Tre' Parmalee finds himself atop the chart as a punt returner, which is somewhat of a surprise as the senior has never shown much speed or agility, but he has held this role before under Charlie Weis, so perhaps the staff elected to go with the sure-handed option at punt returner.
Some familiar names here, and a lot of new ones. It will be interesting to follow this as the season goes along, as I would assume we see new faces rotated in and out at several positions where seniority is lacking. At any rate, we finally have our first glimpse of what the team may look like on Saturday.