Kansas football coach Terry Allen singled out a handful of red-shirt freshmen he thought could help the Jayhawks in the near future.
He cited offensive lineman Justin Hartwig, defensive lineman Nate Dwyer and defensive back Ocasio Cofield.
"There are some kids who can make some contributions to the program," Allen said. "We have some pretty good freshman prospects at defensive back and offensive line and defensive line. What happens with our program is, it's at that stage some kids were asked to play as freshmen we'd love to red-shirt. Some guys are better players than the ones we asked to play because their positions were senior-dominated."
Allen offered true freshman Termaine Fulton as an example.
Fulton caught 10 passes, four of which were for long TDs, for 302 yards. His best game was Saturday's loss to Texas, when he had four catches -- including touchdowns of 19 and 77 yards -- for 138 yards.
To put his 30.2-yards-per-catch average in perspective, the KU record is 26.9 yards per catch with a minimum of 15 catches.
"There's a classic example of a kid who could be an outstanding football player thrown into the mix before his time," Allen said. "That's why he made some plays at the end of the season he didn't make at the beginning. He matured through the process. He can play."
Injury update: Allen said he hoped wide receivers John Gordon (sleep apnea, cardiomyopathy) and Harrison Hill (broken ankle) would be able to play by spring drills. Allen said defensive lineman Jeremy Hanak (knee) should play this spring, but linebacker Dariss Lomax (knee) is questionable by spring.
Roberson backup QB: Allen said Akili Roberson, KU's third-string quarterback who moved to wide receiver, likely would move back to quarterback this spring to back up Zac Wegner. "It's not in the thought process to recruit a junior college quarterback," Allen said. "That's so critical -- to have a freshman, someone you have four or five years, so it becomes second-nature."
Juco half-dozen: Allen said he hoped to sign between six and eight junior college players, including an offensive lineman or two, up to two defensive backs and a wide receiver. "It's important to build a program with high school seniors," he said. "We might get six to eight junior college players specific to positions."
Schedule change: The date of KU's trip to Alabama-Birmingham has been changed. Originally scheduled for Sept. 26, the game has been moved to Sept. 24, a Thursday. Alabama will be playing on Legion Field on the 26th. The Jayhawks also have yet to find an opponent to fill its 1998 season-opener. KU's slate to date: Sept. 5 -- TBA. Sept. 12 -- at Missouri. Sept. 19 -- North Texas. Sept. 24 -- at UAB. Oct. 3 -- Texas A&M. Oct. 10 -- at Baylor. Oct. 17 -- at Nebraska. Oct. 24 -- Colorado. Oct. 31 -- Kansas State. Nov. 7 -- open. Nov. 14 -- Oklahoma State. Nov. 21 -- at Iowa State.
Five surprised Frederick: Count KU athletics director Bob Frederick among the many who were surprised the Jayhawks won five football games during Terry Allen's first year.
"Yes, to be honest," Frederick said. "I thought maybe we'd win three or perhaps four."
Frederick has no qualms about his decision to hire Allen nearly a year ago.
"It's been a real joy," Frederick said. "Our entire department has embraced Terry because he embraced them from Day One. I really sense more excitement about what's coming in KU football than in the 11 years I've been here. Obviously, winning five games at home and beating Missouri and Oklahoma helped."
-- Andrew Hartsock