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Archive for Saturday, July 8, 2006

Mayer: Success spices up recruiting

July 8, 2006

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Football recruiting will get increasingly competitive for Kansas and Kansas State as Mark Mangino works to continue his Jayhawk renaissance and Ron Prince seeks to match Bill Snyder's legacy.

Over the years, both schools have pilfered talent from the other's home city. Like Manhattan's Hal Cleavinger, an early 1950s KU star. All-state end Dick Johnson chose K-State in the late '40s. Bryan and Ken Sperry lettered in '43 before returning to KU (1946-48). LHS's Jaydee Stinson forsook KU for KSU as did Dave Chambliss.

Yet nothing before or since has come close to the coup KSU's Vince Gibson scored against KU's Pepper Rodgers when they succeeded Doug Weaver and Jack Mitchell after the '66 season.

Lawrence High won its traditional state title in 1966 and the ambitious Gibson was eager. On signing day in '67, he roared in and signed, right under Pepper's nose, all-state halfback Dave Oberzan, all-state end Ken White and two-way fullback Ron Mann. That LHS team, as I recall, also sent end Hal Crady, quarterback Chip Maxwell and linebacker Tom Oakson to Colorado State and featured Ron Commons, later a Lion coach and athletic director. Ron wound up starring at Pittsburg State with Mann; Ron tried KSU and headed south.

Mann assisted at Lawrence High, head-coached at Ottawa and Baxter Springs and is now on Gene Wier's staff at a Texas high school.

Ken White didn't stay in Manhattan and at last report was living in California. Oberzan starred in freshman ball at KSU before blowing out a knee, got it repaired, lost it again. He later became a big-time rodeo star, bad wheels and all, and is that hard-riding cowboy Oklahoma State features on its pre-game videos. Dave has an administrative job with a firm in Fort Worth.

Rodgers always pointed out that none of that '67 trio ever played varsity ball at K-State. But it got under his skin when anyone mentioned how Gibson, whom he'd known as an adversary before, scored with that Tasmanian Devil sweep into Lawrence.

Pepper left here for UCLA, Vince later coached at Tulane and founded a successful travel business. He made a terrific impact at KSU. Pepper did not relish recruiting, Vince ate it up, and it was his enthusiasm that guided quarterback great Lynn Dickey to stardom at Manhattan after Lynn had grown up dying to become a Jayhawk. Lynn admits he didn't get much of a tumble from KU, but couldn't have been happier at KSU and as a professional. His coach at Osawatomie was Bill Freeman, later a big Lawrence High coaching winner, who would have steered Lynn here at the drop of a hat, had anyone at KU dropped one.

To Pepper's undying credit, he recruited All-America quarterback David Jaynes from Bonner Springs, much to successor Don Fambrough's delight. David had signed a letter of intent for Alabama; coach Bear Bryant and superstar Joe Namath flew up here in the official 'Bama jet to get the signature.

Then David thought it over, decided he might get lost in a shuffle of blue-chippers in Tuscaloosa and decided home cookin' would be a lot better, especially with Fambrough as his mentor. Had Jaynes, now living in Beverly Hills, Calif., and running a jet plane charter service, not blown out an arm in the 1973 Liberty Bowl in Memphis, he might have had a pro career on a par with that of Lynn Dickey.

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