Kansas UniversityÃ¢ÂÂs football season is over, but the Jayhawks still have a lot of work to do.
Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂll take a couple of days off at the end of February,Ã¢ÂÂ first-year KU coach Mark Mangino said Saturday after a 55-20 loss to Oklahoma State in KUÃ¢ÂÂs season finale.
The 11 other Big 12 Conference schools all have at least one regular-season game left, and eight are bowl-eligible. Mangino hopes to turn that to his advantage by getting an early jump on recruiting before the contact period begins Dec. 1. Signing day is Feb. 5.
After a 2-10 season, which included an 0-8 conference mark, there are many holes to fill. The Jayhawks must replace 18 seniors, including 13 who started Saturday.
It also is likely that there will be some defections among KUÃ¢ÂÂs underclassmen. Mangino said Nov. 2 after a 64-0 loss to Kansas State that there were Ã¢ÂÂa fewÃ¢ÂÂ players in the program who need Ã¢ÂÂto get on with lifeÃ¢ÂÂs work.Ã¢ÂÂ
KU ranks 115th out of 117 Division I-A teams in scoring defense (42.25 points per game) and ranks 97th in scoring offense (20.67). There were problems on special teams as well. The Jayhawks, for example, rank 106th in punt-return average (6.53 yards).
Ã¢ÂÂTo be honest, we need to improve in every area,Ã¢ÂÂ Mangino said. Ã¢ÂÂThereÃ¢ÂÂs not one area of the game that doesnÃ¢ÂÂt need attention and doesnÃ¢ÂÂt need to improve Ã¢ÂÂ:quot; offense, defense and special teams. As far as recruiting goes, weÃ¢ÂÂre on some quality players from all over the place.Ã¢ÂÂ
Like the coaching staff, there wonÃ¢ÂÂt be any vacation for players who plan to return for the 2003 season. The Jayhawks will begin a rigorous offseason workout program this week with strength and conditioning coach Mark Smith.
Ã¢ÂÂYouÃ¢ÂÂve got to go out and prove yourself because there are going to be guys out there competing for your job every year,Ã¢ÂÂ said junior Curtis Ansel, who ranks 28th in the nation with an average of 42.1 yards per punt. Ã¢ÂÂThatÃ¢ÂÂs just like life. If you donÃ¢ÂÂt do what youÃ¢ÂÂre supposed to do, youÃ¢ÂÂll get replaced.Ã¢ÂÂ
KU already has at least four non-binding oral commitments - West Platte, Mo., quarterback Adam Barmann; Northeastern Oklahoma A&M; College defensive lineman Michael Pruitt; Lawrence High running back Brandon McAnderson; and Oak Park, Mo., offensive lineman Reid Kirby.
Pruitt wonÃ¢ÂÂt be the only junior college player Kansas lands. Mangino acknowledged that KU will need to fill Ã¢ÂÂimmediate needsÃ¢ÂÂ with transfers. Those needs include offensive line, where KU loses five seniors who started at least three games.
The Jayhawks also lose their top two wide receivers - seniors Byron Gasaway and Marcellus Jones.
Ã¢ÂÂWeÃ¢ÂÂve got an opportunity for a lot of players to come in here and play, and a lot of players want to do that,Ã¢ÂÂ Mangino said of recruits. Ã¢ÂÂThat opportunity exists.Ã¢ÂÂ
Recruiting new players wonÃ¢ÂÂt be enough to turn the program around, though.
Ã¢ÂÂWeÃ¢ÂÂre going to get some quality players in here, but we have to develop players in the program,Ã¢ÂÂ Mangino said. Ã¢ÂÂWeÃ¢ÂÂre not going to go out and recruit a whole new team this year. ThatÃ¢ÂÂs not going to happen. We have some young kids in our program who have to improve themselves from a physical standpoint in terms of power, speed, quickness and change of direction.Ã¢ÂÂ
The Jayhawks are eager to improve after being outscored 164-27 in their last three games.
Now what are they going to do about it?
Ã¢ÂÂJust learn from this, and understand that we do not want to be in this position next year,Ã¢ÂÂ junior quarterback/defensive back Zach Dyer said. Ã¢ÂÂWe do not want to be on the losing side of the ball. We need to do whatever it takes to go out there and win. I think everybody has a bad taste in their mouths from losing, and they know that we do not want to be in that place again. EveryoneÃ¢ÂÂs fed up with it and has had enough. I think we need to translate that into hard work and put everything we have into this.Ã¢ÂÂ
Mangino will need more from his returning players than just hard work in the weight room and effort in spring drills. He also needs their help in recruiting.
Ã¢ÂÂHow you deal with your players becomes an issue when recruits are on campus,Ã¢ÂÂ Mangino said. Ã¢ÂÂThe overwhelming majority of the players on our team - probably everybody - sees that thereÃ¢ÂÂs progress, and I think recruits will have a good visit with our players. I donÃ¢ÂÂt care how good or bad your program is, the contact those recruits have with our players are crucial. These kids can have a great impact on whether a kid makes a decision to come here.Ã¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂ¢
Hurst home: Guard David Hurst was dismissed from Lawrence Memorial Hospital on Sunday morning after being held overnight for observation. The senior had a seizure Saturday in the locker room after the OSU game.