For about as long as Reggie Duncan can remember, he has been trying to fill the little shoes of David Winbush.
As far back as peewee football, Duncan -- Kansas University's true freshman running back from Killeen, Texas -- has been following the diminutive footsteps of Winbush, now a KU junior also from Killeen.
"'Bush is the man," Duncan said. "And I respect that. But we always go back and forth about who holds the most records from high school."
That discussion invariably ends in Winbush's favor. Winbush, a 5-foot-7, 180-pounder, set the Killeen Ellison High record with just over 4,000 career rushing yards. He also holds the school record for single-season yards -- 2,564, set as a senior.
But Duncan, a 5-9, 205-pounder, does own a place in the Ellison annals.
"I hold single-game yards," he said. "I got 311 one game, then 312. I think that's the only one."
There's no telling how great a threat Duncan could have posed to Winbush's career numbers if Duncan had stayed healthy through high school. He suffered a broken wrist as a sophomore and missed five games. As a senior, he was sidelined for three games with a strained right hamstring, and he still finished with 3,500 yards the final two seasons.
"Yeah, I wanted to break his records, but it didn't happen like I wanted," Duncan said. "It's been going on awhile. But it's all in fun. We both know what we're capable of doing."
Unfortunately for Duncan, he hasn't had much chance to show what he's capable of doing this preseason.
He suffered a strained left hamstring in the California-Texas All-Star game and reported to KU camp still ailing. He tweaked it again about two weeks ago and, at best, is about 80-percent healthy.
"Every day I sit there and watch the other backs, and I get mad," Duncan said. "I just want to get in there. It's frustrating, but it's getting better."
Coach Terry Allen hopes so. Allen singled out Duncan as one of the few true freshmen who stand a chance to play this season.
"He could help us this year," Allen said of Duncan, a SuperPrep All-American his senior year at Ellison. "But he has to be healthy to help us. I'd say he's our third-team tailback. But I won't blow his red-shirt year."
Duncan is torn over the prospect of a red-shirt season. As much as he'd like to play, he also doesn't want to blow a red-shirt to languish on the bench.
"I'd rather play, but if it's best for the team to red-shirt, I'll red-shirt," Duncan said. "It's coach's decision. I can't imagine sitting out a whole year. My sophomore year I missed five games, and that was hard. But whatever's best for the team, that's what I'll do."
Duncan is just part of what Allen calls the best group of freshman running backs he has even been around. But the background Duncan shares with Winbush is what sets him apart from the other ballyhooed member of that class, Harold McClendon.
"I think Reggie has had more coaching coming into the program," Allen said. "Coming from Killeen Ellison " that's one of the premier programs in the state. It's not that Harold's is second-rate. Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with Harold. I like Harold. I just think Reggie is a little more " ready."
Upcoming: The Jayhawks will hold a closed walk-through practice this morning in preparation for their opener, a week from today at Notre Dame. They'll take Sunday off for the Get Ready Rally, then start game-week practices on Monday.
Glasgow on staff: Former KU offensive lineman Justin Glasgow -- a free-agent pickup of the Miami Dolphins who was cut before the preseason began -- has returned to Kansas and is working as an intern in the KU football office.
-- Andrew Hartsock's phone number is 832-7216. His e-mail address is email@example.com.