Adam Barmann, who won Kansas University's starting quarterback job last year, appears to be positioning himself to do so again this season.
Barmann, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound junior who started the first eight games as a sophomore but missed the last three because of a shoulder injury, has impressed during the Jayhawks' first three practices of the preseason, coach Mark Mangino said Sunday.
"Adam looks pretty good. Adam looks sharp. He wants the job. He is going out attacking it that way," Mangino said during Kids Day activities on the KU practice fields.
"He had a tremendous summer," Mangino added of Barmann, who threw for 1,427 yards and a KU-sophomore-record 12 touchdowns.
Of course, the Weston, Mo., native hasn't wrapped up the starting job after a mere three workouts, with plenty more to come leading up to the Sept. 3 opener against Florida Atlantic.
He faces competition from Brian Luke, who as a starter led KU to a victory over Missouri last year, plus Jason Swanson, who threw a go-ahead TD strike to Mark Simmons in the victory over Kansas State last year.
Also in the mix is freshman blue-chipper Kerry Meier of Pittsburg.
"Brian Luke is doing a lot of good things. Brian can do some good things. You've seen that in the past," Mangino said. "Swanson hasn't worked much. He's behind with an (undisclosed) ailment from the summer. And Kerry Meier : his head is swimming, but you can see he's going to be pretty dang good."
Mangino, asked about his freshman class, mentioned two players - Meier and Russell Brorsen, a 6-4, 235-pound high school defensive end from Stillwater, Okla., who has been moved to tight end at KU.
"For a freshman group, usually you get a bunch of guys lost and wandering around. This group's focus is unusually good for a freshman group," Mangino said. "You always are at risk of leaving somebody out : (but) I will tell you Russell Brorsen : we have him at tight end, and he's doing extremely well. The young man is heavyweight wrestling champion in the state of Oklahoma. He's an honor student, every response to a coach is, 'Yes, sir,' or, 'No, sir.' He's a tough customer."
Of Meier, who scored the winning touchdown in the recent Shrine Bowl, Mangino said: "In three days, the thing I like most about Kerry is, despite the fact he's learning, he's never once lost his poise on the field. You can see his leadership qualities. His teammates sense that."
"We've got a bunch of other kids that are trying to get some playing time as true freshmen, but that remains to be seen. Those two jump out at me now, but the whole class is a hard-working bunch."
Mangino lauded the team's senior leadership and leadership from the captains and forcefully stated the squad was off to "the fastest start we've ever been (in four years here) in terms of learning, maturity, focus, and we are more talented that we have ever been."
About 700 fans attended Kids Day. Members of the team were spread all over the practice field interacting with youths, who also lined up to receive autographs from players and coaches.
Former KU lineman Keith Loneker was on hand with family and members of the fourth-grade football team he coaches.
"The best thing is to be able to bring kids where I played and have them fall in love with the new Kansas tradition in football," said Loneker, 34, who played offensive line for KU in the Glen Mason era and in the NFL for the Rams. "This is awesome. The North (division of Big 12) is up in the air, baby. Why not us?"
Loneker stressed the program was headed in the right direction under Mangino.
"Long gone are the days coming in here when Terry Allen was here and watching kids sitting underneath the little tents drinking water when they are hurt. He (Mangino) is bringing back toughness," Loneker said. "When Mase got here, we turned this program around and got it straight by having tough kids and kids willing to get after it.
"(Strength coach Chris) Dawson has done an awesome job. Look at these guys," Loneker exclaimed. "Big shoulders, big arms, big legs are back. It looks like a football team, that's for sure."
Loneker said he hoped the administration made a commitment to Mangino.
"I just hope everybody gives him a chance to get right with the other South schedule," Loneker said, referring to letting Mangino play next year's South schedule against Texas A&M;, Oklahoma State and Baylor instead of this year's lineup of Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
"I hope our great athletic director is patient enough to let him have a shot at the schedule on that side of the South before he makes any rash decisions. I'd hate to have to go through (a coaching change). Does UConn have a football coach? Are we gonna get stuck with that," Loneker laughed, referring to current AD Lew Perkins having worked at UConn before taking the KU job. "Is he going to bring the women's basketball coach?"
For Mangino's part, he was tickled with Kids Day festivities.
"It's for these kids to meet players without their helmets on, to interact with them, have some fun, let them see there's a lot of hard work involved in being a college football player," Mangino said. "It's our way of saying thank you. We want little guys who are young to learn about KU football."