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Archive for Thursday, April 11, 2002

April 11, 2002

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Seven quarterbacks are too many.

So are five, but Mark Mangino is working on it.

On the 10th day of spring football practice, KU's first-year coach said that junior Kyle Cernech had moved from quarterback to tight end.

"I like his attitude," Mangino said. "He can help us."

Cernech wasn't likely to help the Jayhawks at quarterback, where Mangino doesn't have enough snaps to go around. The coach said Fort Scott Community College transfer Bill Whittemore and junior Zach Dyer were working with the No. 1 offense, while sophomore Kevin Long, freshman Brian Luke and senior Jonas Weatherbie were working with the No. 2 offense.

Mangino didn't mention junior Jeff Reinert.

"As we move along, we'll get some kind of pecking order," he said, "but there just isn't any right now, and I'm not overly worried about that. We're still not going to share reps with five. We'll only share reps with two, perhaps three. But we're moving in the right direction."

As a sophomore, Dyer (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) started four games and completed 43 of 89 passes for 460 yards and three touchdowns while splitting time with Mario Kinsey, who was dismissed from the team this winter. Now Dyer's competing with Whittemore (6-1, 190), who was named MVP of the Jayhawk Conference after passing for 2,082 yards and 16 TDs last fall.

While Whittemore is the newcomer, both quarterbacks are adjusting to new coaches and a new offense.

"It's almost like a feeling of a fresh start," Dyer said. "We all have new coaches who don't know too much about us. It's like your freshman year, trying to prove yourself over again."

Mangino said he was pleased with Dyer's progress.

"He's been great," he said. "He's a student of the game. He watches a lot of tape. His attitude's been great. He's a very talented young guy. He's very comfortable with the situation. We think our system fits his talent, too."

Dyer said it was important for him and Whittemore to learn Mangino's offense quickly.

"Being a quarterback  especially early on  you have to know what you're doing and be like a field general out there if people have questions," he said. "You have to understand it before other people do. We're picking it up a lot quicker than I thought we would."

The spring game is 15 days away, but don't expect the Jayhawk receivers to pick sides in the quarterback battle any time soon.

"They both look pretty good," senior Byron Gasaway said of Dyer and Whittemore. "In the spring, you catch so many balls with so many quarterbacks, it doesn't matter who the quarterback is right now. Our main objective is to catch the ball."

Cernech (6-2, 220) will spend the rest of the spring learning to catch the ball. KU needs depth at tight end, where junior Adrian Jones is the team's only returning letterman.

In a related move, Mangino said freshman Justin Henry (6-2, 235) had been shifted from tight end to center.

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Not in the running: When the Kansas Relays return to Memorial Stadium next Wednesday through Saturday, KU track standout Leo Bookman won't be there.

"Before I even started running indoor season, me and coach Mangino had an agreement that once spring football started I was through with track until after spring football," said Bookman, the Big 12 Conference indoor champion in the 200 meters and the KU record holder in both the 200 and 60 meters. "I miss it, but I love football. Football is my first love."

Bookman hopes to move into a starting role at strong safety. Between spring football and the start of the fall season, he'll compete in track during the outdoor season.

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Grady update: Senior Kyle Grady (6-5, 305) started 10 games last fall, but you won't see the offensive guard in KU's spring game. One of only two returning starters on the offensive line, Grady is recovering from offseason surgery. The Texan sat out spring drills last year, too.

"He's not participating," Mangino said. "He'll be ready to go in the fall. Our medical staff said if he continues on his rehab he'll be OK come August, so we're hopeful."

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