The name slipped the Texas writer's mind -- innocently, of course, but the mere fact of the matter said plenty.
Asking Kansas University football coach Mark Mangino about two Jayhawks in contention for Big 12 Conference defensive player-of-the-year honors, the scribe mentioned linebacker Nick Reid without trouble, but drew a blank when trying to come up with Charlton Keith's name.
That's the disadvantage a one-year wonder like Keith has. But otherwise, does Keith -- or Reid -- deserve the honor as the Big 12's best defensive player in 2005?
"Those two guys have definitely been great anchors for our defense," Mangino said. "They deserve any honor that comes their way."
Keith and Reid both are worthy candidates, along with hard-hitting safety Dwayne Slay of Texas Tech, Nebraska linebacker Corey McKeon and several others.
If there is a front-runner at this point, Slay might have the title by a nose, after finishing the regular season with 101 tackles, eight forced fumbles, a sack and an interception. But to call him a lock for the honor would be premature.
Appy State preparing for I-AA playoffs
J-W Staff Reports Appalachian State University earned the No. 2 national seed in the NCAA I-AA football playoffs and will play host to Lafayette on Saturday. Appalachian State (8-3) is the Southern Conference's automatic qualifier by virtue of winning its first outright league title since 1995. The Mountaineers are 8-1 against I-AA competition. Their only loss to a I-AA foe was a last-minute, 34-31 setback to another playoff qualifier, Furman. ASU's other losses were to Div. I-A Kansas (36-8) and LSU (24-0)
For one, Reid can overtake Slay in the stops department with eight tackles against Iowa State on Saturday, which certainly is attainable. In addition, Reid has 13 tackles for a loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception in 10 games this season. If Reid hits 100 tackles (he's at 94 now), it'll be his third straight season reaching the century mark.
"He's a playmaker," Mangino said, "in every sense of the word."
Keith, a defensive end, has 49 tackles, 17 1/2 for a loss, 7 1/2 sacks, five passes broken up, a forced fumble and fumble recovery. Some games -- like a 40-15 victory against Nebraska -- Keith has flat-out dominated. He's the Big 12 leader in tackles for a loss and is fourth in sacks. One sack-master ahead of him is teammate Brandon Perkins, who has 8 1/2.
Reid might have an advantage over Keith simply because he has been in the spotlight more in the past four years: He has started since his freshman year, has been All-Big 12 in the past, was in a much-publicized (and maybe overhyped) grudge match with Texas quarterback Vince Young, challenged his offensive teammtes through the media and has consistently been a Big 12 leader in tackles.
Keith, meanwhile, started out in the Big Ten at Minnesota, then transferred to a junior college before coming to Kansas. He backed up David McMillan, now in the NFL, as a junior before flourishing both pass-rushing and stopping the run in his final season.
The All-Big 12 teams and individual honors will be announced in the week leading up to the Big 12 championship game, which takes place Dec. 3 at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
¢ Turkey time: For purposes of eating some Thanksgiving turkey, KU players will have to check their odometers.
KU plans to practice throughout the week -- including Thursday's holiday -- but players are encouraged to go home Thursday evening if they live within 150 miles of campus. That covers much of Kansas and the Kansas City area.
Many of those nearby players will take teammates with them for turkey dinner, while some out-of-region parents are flying into Lawrence to grub with their sons and stay to watch Saturday's game. Mangino also has some space available at his table.
"Every player on our team will get the opportunity to be in a family setting for Thanksgiving," Mangino said.
They had better not eat too much, though: KU has a walk-through scheduled Friday before Saturday's big game.