Archive for Saturday, April 9, 2005

Haselhorst should fare well at center

April 9, 2005


The news of Todd Haselhorst's switch from defensive tackle to Kansas University's starting center didn't come out of left field.

But it wasn't obvious, either.

Haselhorst played well as a reserve defensive tackle last year, posting 13 tackles, including four behind the line of scrimmage. But the 6-foot-4, 300-pound sophomore now is moving to the other side of the football -- and he'll be the first to touch it every play.

Is Haselhorst experienced at center? Nope.

Will it matter? His high school coach doesn't think so.

"Out of all the positions, center is the one I'm most surprised with," Olathe East coach Jeff Meyers said.

"But with his size and everything, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see him do well there. If that's where they need help, he'll be able to help them."

Haselhorst stood out on both lines for Olathe East in 2003, helping the Hawks to a 10-1 record and Class 6A state quarterfinal appearance. But on offense he was a strong-side tackle and often the lead blocker on outside runs by O-East's speedy tailback, Andre Jones.

"He was my biggest kid, so I wanted to put him on the strong side," Meyers said. "But I knew he could play center, guard or tackle."

Haselhorst was heavily recruited as an offensive lineman, but KU kept its options open on where to utilize his strengths. In 2004, that was on defense.

However, with the loss of center Joe Vaughn to graduation coupled with a strong recruiting class highlighted by immediate-impact defensive linemen like Wayne Wilder, Rodney Allen and Caleb Blakesley, the offensive line had the most question marks this spring.

An experiment with tackle Matt Thompson at center didn't work out, so Haselhorst made the move last week.

"He's going to be really good at that position," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "In fairness to Matt Thompson, he's an outside player. He's a tackle, and he's comfortable out there. We're a better offensive line with Matt Thompson at the right, Cesar (Rodriguez) at left and Todd playing center."

It won't be an easy adjustment, though. Meyers said the center position required the most difficult transition of any in the trenches because of the responsibility Haselhorst would face.

But both coaches agree if anyone's up for it, it's the versatile Haselhorst.

"Once he learns the position and understands snapping the ball and all those things," Mangino said, "I think he's got a chance to be pretty good,"

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