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Archive for Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Kansas lineman fired up

Haselhorst thrilled to get break from rehab

June 27, 2007

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Kansas University junior Todd Haselhorst gladly will take the butt-kicking that summer conditioning gives football players like himself. He knows that the pot of gold - a 12-game season this fall - is the reward.

And no one will cherish that quite like he will.

"It's real exciting," Haselhorst said. "It's kind of a break from the last two years of shoulder rehab and shoulder surgery."

Two years in which Haselhorst played a total of six games, for maybe 12 plays at the most.

While the promising defensive tackle had his 2005 season derailed by September shoulder surgery, he didn't know that most of his '06 season would be ravaged by prolonged recovery, as well.

Really, Haselhorst hasn't felt good about his play since 2004, when he was a wide-eyed freshman just months removed from Olathe East High. Then, he was a backup defensive lineman registering 13 tackles in 10 games, with a bright future ahead of him.

Almost three years later, that future still hasn't arrived. Haselhorst, feeling better than ever, is hoping this is the year.

KU coach Mark Mangino thinks it can be, if the 6-foot-4, 300-pound Haselhorst properly prepares for it this summer.

"He needs to have a great summer of conditioning so that he is capable of playing a lot of snaps for us," Mangino said. "We think he's on the right track. We're looking for him to be well conditioned and ready to go in August and get to the point where he's consistent."

Haselhorst left spring practices atop the depth chart at defensive tackle, alongside senior captain James McClinton. That alone is a little weird - Haselhorst was recruited mainly as an offensive lineman, and though his first year was on the defensive side of the ball, KU coaches moved him back to offense in the spring of '05.

3 questions with....Todd Haselhorst

3 questions with Kansas University defensive tackle Todd Haselhorst

It was around then that his body started deteriorating, and it became clear that his '05 season was about to be wrecked.

"I consider it the low point of my career," Haselhorst said. "Coming in as a freshman, you play right away, you get thrown into the fire. And you come out fine without any injuries.

"Then you head into spring and you get tripped up by injuries, and it just got worse and worse. In the fall I had surgery, and for about a year I was doing rehab. It's not football."

While recovering, Haselhorst went back to defense, where he was needed more. He's now considered a key component for a defensive line with something to prove - besides McClinton, an All-Big 12 candidate, there are a lot of unknowns up front.

"I think our D-line is going to be one of the strong points of our team," Haselhorst said. "We're returning James, and he's doing an excellent job right now. So is Russell (Brorsen) and John (Larson).

"They're all doing a real good job. I think we're going to shock some people."

Haselhorst, at long last, can envision himself contributing to that success. He said he's working on his speed this summer, as well as making sure his body is ready for the 12-game grind.

So far, no problems - neither with him nor his hungry teammates.

"It's going real good," Haselhorst said. "I'd say this is probably one of the better summers we've had so far. Everybody's just tired of mediocre seasons, and we want to get after it and prove ourselves."

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