Archive for Friday, August 18, 2006

Ballard checks out Georgia on own dime

August 18, 2006

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Free State High senior and Kansas University football recruit Christian Ballard recently took an unofficial visit with his family to Georgia, another school he's considering.

And while Ballard, a tight end/defensive end prospect, still has KU "really high on my list," he admits liking what he saw in Athens, Ga., last weekend.

"They're a really good school," Ballard said. "Coach (Mark) Richt is a really good guy, and the stadium is huge. People are really into their football down there.

"I want to go down there for an official visit, see a game, see what the atmosphere is like down there. I'd like to go by myself so I can see what it's like living by myself."

Ballard sees himself visiting Athens in September, when the Bulldogs play either Alabama-Birmingham or Colorado. He'll be at KU home games each Saturday he's in town and wants to make an official visit to KU during one of the marquee matchups.

The 6-foot-4, 280-pound Ballard still considers himself committed to KU, but the fact that he's entertaining other offers makes his commitment soft at best.

"It could change," he said. "But hopefully, if everything goes right at the KU official visit, I'll still be here."

¢ Kemp injured: Sources have confirmed KU senior strong safety Jerome Kemp suffered a leg injury this week and is not practicing.

It's unclear how long Kemp will be out, but it's not thought to be a season-ending ailment. Nevertheless, it's another jolt for KU's young defense, at least in the preseason. Kemp was one of three returning starters, and the other starting safety, Darrell Stuckey, was sidelined last week with an injury, too.

Candidates to fill in while Kemp and Stuckey are out include sophomores Tang Bacheyie and Sadiq Muhammad and red-shirt freshman Justin Thornton. Incoming freshmen such as Olaitan Oguntodu may battle for reps as well.

¢ It's open: Kansas invites the public to watch practice today starting at 3:45 p.m. It will be held at the practice field adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark.

It's the second of three practices open to Jayhawk fans this preseason. The annual fan appreciation day will be held at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Memorial Stadium.

¢ Getting pepped: Immediately after today's practice, Mangino will drive to Prairie Village, where Jayhawk fans are invited to attend a pep rally at the Corinth Square parking lot, 83rd and Mission.

The rally starts at 6 p.m. Mangino will speak at the event, which will feature the spirit squad and pep band. Admission is free.

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