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Archive for Monday, November 18, 2002

KU will focus on recruiting, conditioning during long offseason

November 18, 2002

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Kansas UniversityâÂÂs football season is over, but the Jayhawks still have a lot of work to do.

âÂÂIâÂÂll take a couple of days off at the end of February,â first-year KU coach Mark Mangino said Saturday after a 55-20 loss to Oklahoma State in KUâÂÂs 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 KUâÂÂs underclassmen. Mangino said Nov. 2 after a 64-0 loss to Kansas State that there were âÂÂa fewâ players in the program who need âÂÂto get on with lifeâÂÂs work.âÂÂ

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).

âÂÂTo be honest, we need to improve in every area,â Mangino said. âÂÂThereâÂÂs not one area of the game that doesnâÂÂt need attention and doesnâÂÂt need to improve âÂÂ:quot; offense, defense and special teams. As far as recruiting goes, weâÂÂre on some quality players from all over the place.âÂÂ

Like the coaching staff, there wonâÂÂt 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.

âÂÂYouâÂÂve got to go out and prove yourself because there are going to be guys out there competing for your job every year,â said junior Curtis Ansel, who ranks 28th in the nation with an average of 42.1 yards per punt. âÂÂThatâÂÂs just like life. If you donâÂÂt do what youâÂÂre supposed to do, youâÂÂll get replaced.âÂÂ

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 wonâÂÂt be the only junior college player Kansas lands. Mangino acknowledged that KU will need to fill âÂÂimmediate needsâ 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.

âÂÂWeâÂÂve got an opportunity for a lot of players to come in here and play, and a lot of players want to do that,â Mangino said of recruits. âÂÂThat opportunity exists.âÂÂ

Recruiting new players wonâÂÂt be enough to turn the program around, though.

âÂÂWeâÂÂre going to get some quality players in here, but we have to develop players in the program,â Mangino said. âÂÂWeâÂÂre not going to go out and recruit a whole new team this year. ThatâÂÂs 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.âÂÂ

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?

âÂÂJust learn from this, and understand that we do not want to be in this position next year,â junior quarterback/defensive back Zach Dyer said. âÂÂWe 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. EveryoneâÂÂs 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.âÂÂ

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.

âÂÂHow you deal with your players becomes an issue when recruits are on campus,â Mangino said. âÂÂThe overwhelming majority of the players on our team - probably everybody - sees that thereâÂÂs progress, and I think recruits will have a good visit with our players. I donâÂÂt 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.âÂÂ

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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.

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