Archive for Tuesday, August 11, 1998

WEGNER SETTLES IN AT NO. 1

August 11, 1998

Advertisement

For the first time in his college career, Zac Wegner isn't trying to become KU's No. 1 quarterback. He's already No. 1.

Now that he's more able to run somebody down from behind, Zac Wegner finds that he doesn't have anybody to chase.

Wegner, Kansas University's 6-foot-2 junior quarterback, shed a dozen pounds -- down to 218 -- from last season, improved his vertical leap and picked up a half-step in his 10-yard dash times.

But for the first time in his three-plus years at KU, the leaner, meaner Wegner isn't chasing anybody.

He enters preseason camp as the clear favorite to start at QB -- and, for that matter, he enters camp as the only player with collegiate quarterbacking experience on the roster.

``There are no sure things,'' Wegner said Monday at KU's Media Day. ``But I don't have to worry about trying to win the starting spot. Instead of worrying about who's in front of you, you can work more on different parts of your game.''

Wegner, from Platte City, Mo., red-shirted as a freshman and didn't play a down the following year, prompting him to consider transferring away.

Last season, he won over the fans -- as the backup QB often does -- before winning the starting job from Matt Johner. Johner, a senior last fall, suffered a broken pinky the same week that Wegner took the starting reins and never started again.

Wegner completed 66 of 144 passes (45.8 percent) for 970 yards with five interceptions and four touchdowns. He played in 10 games and started six.

With three newcomers -- two walk-ons and a scholarship freshman -- competing for the No. 2 job, Wegner would seem a lock to start as long as he's healthy.

Except ...

``In my position, there's never a guarantee,'' Wegner said. ``Not at quarterback. But that's why I'm working even harder than I did when I was No. 2. You can't back off.''

That work resulted in a more lithe frame, which Wegner figures will help the elusiveness that was frequently tested last season behind a young, inexperienced line.

``I'm trying to pick up my mobility and quickness,'' he said. ``My 10s went down, my vertical went up and my shuttle times went down. It definitely has helped. I can tell a big difference.''

Second-year coach Terry Allen hopes Wegner's status as No. 1 will be a big difference, too.

``You don't have to worry, `Will I get pulled out? Am I the starter? I am the quarterback,''' Allen said. ``You spend more time getting better than worrying about the other guy.''

Now all Wegner has to worry about is helping the Jayhawks' offense -- which, you might recall, ranked dead last in the nation last fall.

``You guys never let us forget that,'' Wegner said. ``Nobody wants to finish last in Division I football offense. We're not going to finish last this year. I can tell you that right now. Things are going to be a lot better.''

The Jayhawks will start two-a-day practices today, and will don pads for the first time on Friday.

``I can't wait,'' Wegner said. ``It can't come too soon. (Today's) the first day, and I can't wait until then. Everybody's antsy. We're out to prove some people wrong.''

-- Andrew Hartsock's phone number is 832-7216. His e-mail address is ahartsock@ljworld.com.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.