Kansas University's football coaches were so desperate for help at cornerback last season that the Jayhawks moved two of their most talented offensive players to the secondary.
Theo Baines is confident that such drastic measures won't be necessary this fall.
"I'm going to go out there during two-a-days and bust my butt like I did in the spring," said Baines, who transferred to KU from Tyler (Texas) Community College last winter. "I'm really excited. I know I can do it. There's no doubt in my mind about stepping up and playing in the fall. I'm real confident. I'm really amazed at what I've done."
Baines is feeling confident -- if you couldn't tell -- after an offseason in KU's weight room. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound junior has lost fat and added lean muscle. In short, he's stronger and faster -- two qualities the Jayhawks need in the secondary after allowing an average of 217.9 yards passing per game in 2003.
"He has a great attitude and a great work ethic, and that will pay dividends for him as well as us," said KU director of strength and conditioning Chris Dawson. "He's a fast kid. He can really run."
It's a good thing. Running takes up a great deal of the Jayhawks' time during their offseason workouts with Dawson. Baines and fellow semester transfers Jason Swanson, Jermail Ashley and Rodney Harris learned that the hard way when they started winter conditioning with their new teammates on Jan. 23.
"It's a lot more intense than junior college," Baines said. "They expect a lot more out of you, and they get the best out of you. I had a month and a half off, and I worked out a little bit at home. When I came in, it was brutal. I made it through the first day, but I slept in the locker room for about 45 minutes. I just laid there in the locker room. All the new guys, we were just wiped out on our first day."
Baines had 41 tackles, one interception, two forced fumbles and recovered two fumbles last season when he and Ashley -- a defensive end -- helped Tyler post a 10-2 record. Baines finished spring drills atop the depth chart at corner, and he intends to stay there.
"My strength has improved tremendously, and my speed and quickness have improved, too," said the Rosenburg, Texas, product. "I'm a lot stronger than I've ever been before.
"When I'm on the field for seven-on-seven, my first step is quicker. As soon as the ball is thrown, I'm there."
KU's summer conditioning program ends July 28, and Baines knows he has time to improve before players report to preseason camp Aug. 6.
"I'm glad we have a few more weeks to work out," said Baines, a political science major who is taking nine hours of summer school. "That gives me a chance to get stronger and get in shape. It'll make two-a-days easier for me, but I'm also excited to get in pads and start working."