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Archive for Saturday, August 11, 2007

10 athletes you don’t want to miss

Russell Robinson

Russell Robinson

August 11, 2007

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Some athletes are easy to root for, regardless of the uniforms they wear.

They make it obvious they take what they do very seriously and enjoy it so thoroughly.

They don't leave the impression they view what they are doing as a means to some greater end.

They enjoy the moment and by extension so do those who watch them. They give off the vibe that wearing the word Kansas on their jerseys means a great deal to them.

A look at 10 Kansas University athletes who are such compelling entertainers without having that annoying look-at-me quality that can grate on the nerves.

1. Russell Robinson, Sr., basketball

"Tough" is the single-best word to capture New York City ballers, and Robinson is that, not to mention unselfish, relentless and clutch. He's not a terrific shooter unless it's late and close. This season could be his last in front of huge, passionate crowds, and the smart money says he's going to make the most of it. Stamina is the most underrated aspect of his game, which gives him one thing in common with Michael Jordan.

Robinson consistently lands in the right place at the right time, which means instead of having to worry about having five players on the same page, the coaching staff never has to worry about having more than four on the same page.

2. Brittany Williams, So., volleyball

Brittany Williams

Brittany Williams

What a leaper, what a smile, what a life story. Such an explosive athlete, such a quick jumper, Williams plays the game in a way that suggests there isn't anywhere else on the planet she'd rather be. After Hurricane Katrina destroyed her family's New Orleans home, she finished her high school career in Atlanta.

3. Anthony Collins, Jr., football

Anthony Collins

Anthony Collins

Down the road a few years, when the Super Bowl starters are being introduced

and Collins' name is called, don't sit there wishing you had watched him when he played for Kansas. It's not easy to zero in on offensive tackles, but try it for one quarter of one game through binoculars. He dominates his man, wins just about every confrontation and is the biggest NFL sure thing on the roster.

4. Emily Brown, Sr., volleyball

Emily Brown

Emily Brown

A fourth-year starter from Baldwin, Brown has the perfect, long and strong volleyball build and displays extraordinary instincts for playing the game. She has that knows-where-everybody-should-be-and-what-they-should-be-doing quality to her game.

5. James McClinton, Sr., football

James McClinton

James McClinton

Helmets hide their faces. Coaches restrict the media's access to them. It's hard for the public to get to know college football players, particularly if they play in the trenches. McClinton has so much charisma, his personality knocks over the barriers. McClinton, an ultra-explosive defensive tackle, has a personality similar to his playing style: Lively, but not obnoxious. He's fun to watch play football and equally as enjoyable to interview.

6. Danielle McCray, So., basketball

Danielle McCray

Danielle McCray

An accomplished thrower for the track team at Olathe East High, McCray needed to get leaner, and she did through the course of her feshman season. She's quicker than she looks, and she's primed for a breakthrough season.

7. Darnell Jackson, Sr., basketball

So big and fast and enthusiastic, Jackson doesn't wait for the game to come to him. He's so eager to please. Through hard work, he turned himself from a defensive liability into a solid defender last season. What he lacks in length and explosiveness, he compensates for with toughness and desire.

8. Colby Wissel, Sr., cross country/track

He created the single greatest KU sports moment of the 2006-2007 school year when came from behind and won the Big 12 cross country individual title with a memorable kick at Rim Rock Farm, the local cross country course donated by former coach Bob Timmons. Wissel runs the course in his leisure time with his Irish setter, Molly. Wissel's classmate Paul Hefferon returns as well and is a threat to take Wissel's title from him.

9. Derek Fine, Jr., football

Quarterbacks like that this tight end gets open and catches what's thrown to him. Running backs like the way he blocks. Give him an assignment, he carries it out to the best of his well-above-average ability.

10. Sydney Wilson, Fr., golf

The most stylish of Kansas University athletes, Wilson red-shirted last season and has four years of remaining eligibility. Watching the rest of her game catch up to her length off the tee will be an interesting development to track.

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