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Archive for Sunday, July 27, 2003

Jayhawks building strength

Former linebacker Reid ‘explosive’ example

July 27, 2003

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Nick Reid looked solid last season when he made 62 tackles -- including six sacks -- as a true freshman linebacker.

He might look even more imposing to opposing quarterbacks as a sophomore safety.

Reid, 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, was an all-state quarterback and defensive back at Derby High School, but injuries in the linebacker corps forced Kansas University coach Mark Mangino to throw the freshman into a new position last season.

Reid made six starts and finished the season as KU's fourth-leading tackler, and he will be the Jayhawks' top returning tackler when the season starts Aug. 30 at Memorial Stadium against Northwestern.

The Jayhawks wrapped up their summer workout program Friday. In two of the three weight-lifting exercises charted by director of strength and conditioning Chris Dawson, Reid's numbers not only led KU's defensive backs, but also would have been tops among linebackers and rated among the best on the team overall.

"Those are good numbers across the board," Dawson said. "Those would have been good numbers for a linebacker. The kid is explosive."

Reid squatted 560 pounds and cleaned 313.

Defensive linemen led the team in two of three categories. Senior Cory Kipp bench-pressed a team-best 465 pounds, while junior Travis Watkins squatted 575. Junior running back Austine Nwabuisi cleaned 343.

"It's hard for me to single guys out," said Dawson, who was the head strength coach at Minnesota for two years and also worked as an assistant at Oklahoma before coming to KU in February. "I've been more impressed with how these guys have worked than with any group I've worked with anywhere I've been."

KU's 26-man recruiting class -- especially 13 junior-college transfers -- is expected to make a big impact in Mangino's second season. But none of the newcomers led a single category on the summer weightlifting chart.

That didn't surprise Dawson. He expected the returning players -- who are accustomed to the system -- to lead the offseason program.

"I don't think any of the jucos or freshmen have worked as hard as they're going to here," he said. "I find few transfers who have worked this hard with this consistency."

That doesn't mean the newcomers won't adapt.

"It's a process," Dawson said. "The three integral parts of our training are intensity, consistency and patience. It takes time, just like building a program."

Players have spent the summer working with Dawson and his staff for 2 1/2 hours, four times a week.

Numerous players made significant gains in the weight room. Red-shirt freshmen offensive linemen David Ochoa (6-4, 271) and Travis Dambach (6-4, 285) each gained 25 pounds or more. Defensive back Shelton Simmons (5-11, 171) added 18 pounds to his frame.

Others have slimmed down. Defensive lineman Phil Tuihalamaka, another transfer, has dropped 26 pounds since reporting to campus. He's 6-3, 318 pounds.

The Jayhawks have a week off before preseason practices start Aug. 4.

"I feel good about the position we're in right now," Dawson said.

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