Kansas University football fans will have a chance to check out KU's young, developing players -- and quite a few older Jayhawks -- April 18 at Memorial Stadium.
KU's spring football game will have an added attraction this year. An alumni game will be played at 12:30 p.m. prior to the main event.
"With the changes in coaching staffs from coach Mason to coach Allen and now coach Mangino, a lot of guys feel like they're not wanted because they don't know anybody," assistant coach Clint Bowen said. "We want to introduce ourselves and let them know that they can come back, and we want them to come back."
Coach Mark Mangino put Bowen in charge of the alumni game because the Lawrence High graduate knows a lot of former Jayhawks. He played defensive back for coach Glen Mason in 1992-93 and worked for Terry Allen from 1998 to 2001 before Mangino took over.
With help from the KU Alumni Association and the K Club, the football office recently sent invitations to about 1,000 former Jayhawks.
"We have no idea if it will be a big success or a major bust," Bowen said. "We need the guys to come back and make it a success."
Bowen already has heard from several former Jayhawks eager to get back on the Memorial Stadium field, including former NFL lineman Keith Loneker.
Some current NFL players -- such as Kwamie Lassiter and Don Davis -- also have indicated they will attend the reunion, but the pros won't be allowed to play because of potential injury risks and harm it could do to their careers.
Bowen also has restricted the game -- which will either be flag football or two-hand touch -- to players who finished their KU careers before the 1999 season because of the injury risk the youngsters might present to others.
"They have to get older and fatter before we'll let them play," Bowen quipped.
Bowen and running backs coach Pat Henderson, another former Jayhawk, are unlikely to play in the game because of their duties with the real spring scrimmage. Bowen's brother, Charley, who also played defensive back for Mason, won't get off the hook as easily.
"He's got to play," Clint Bowen said. "I can't be in charge of this and have him not play."
Bowen hopes to have enough former Jayhawks to have one session with under-40 player and another with over-40 players. Ex-players who aren't up for the activity have been invited to help coach or simply be spectators.
KU plans to have an afternoon practice for the former players April 17 followed by a gathering at the Adams Alumni Center in the evening. Former Jayhawks interested in attending should contact Carole Hadl in the football office.