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Greatest Kansas Football Players Bracket: Mark Simmons vs Isaac Byrd

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(7) Mark Simmons vs (10) Isaac Byrd

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(7) Mark Simmons

Mark Simmons was remarkably consistent in his four seasons on Mount Oread. But his best statistical season was his second, the 2003 Tangerine Bowl team that ushered in the successful Mark Mangino years. With Bill Whittemore at the helm of the KU offense, the offense clicked. In 2003, Mark Simmons made 40 catches for 769 yards and seven touchdowns. His 19.2 yards per catch average was second best in the Big 12 that season.

His junior and senior campaigns were also quite nice from a statistical point of view. In 2004, his line looked like this: 49 recs, 553 yards, 3 TD. In 2005, his senior season and Fort Worth Bowl Championship season, Simmons’ numbers looked like this: 44 recs, 631 yards, 4 TD. Those 631 yards landed him 10th on the Big 12 yardage chart that season.

(10) Isaac Byrd

Having already played for the 1995 Aloha Bowl champions and racking up some nice numbers (48 receptions, 604 yards, five touchdowns), he made a clear jump in the 1996 campaign, his only other season on the gridiron for KU. In that season, Byrd had 53 receptions for 840 yards. Byrd also grabbed seven touchdown passes, but he added a new dimension to his game as a punt returner. He did it in ’95, but stepped up his return game during the 1996 season. He returned 11 punts, taking one all the way back for a touchdown and averaging 19.5 yards per return in the process.

Isaac Byrd was named to the second team All-Big 12 team after that 1996 season and was rewarded by being drafted by the Tennessee Oilers in the 6th round. Of course, he played for those Titans, even featuring in Super Bowl XXXIV. He later played for the Carolina Panthers and totaled 93 catches and six touchdowns in his six seasons as an NFL player.

It should be noted that Isaac Byrd was a heck of a baseball player too. During his time as a Jayhawk (1995 and 1996 seasons), Byrd was named the MVP of the baseball team, first team All-Big 8, first team All-Big 8 Tournament, and second team All-America. He hit .364 in 106 games as a Jayhawk with a slugging percentage of .521 and an OPS of .964. If Isaac had played four years on the gridiron, what might his seeding be in this competition?

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