Archive for Friday, October 12, 2007

Time to move on

Chance for redemption awaits Herford

KU wide receiver Marcus Herford catches a pass Saturday, Oct. 6, 2007 during pregame warm-ups amidst a sea of purple shirts at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

KU wide receiver Marcus Herford catches a pass Saturday, Oct. 6, 2007 during pregame warm-ups amidst a sea of purple shirts at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

October 12, 2007

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Asking Marcus Herford to name the play of last season's 18-point collapse against Baylor in Waco that stands out the most would be akin to asking someone to name a favorite toothache.

He was asked, and he answered.

"Probably almost getting my teammate killed," Herford said. "It was really, really scary at that moment."

Herford was talking about the double pass on which he so badly overthrew a wide-open Brian Murph that the receiver ran into a camera platform and dropped to the ground like a dead duck. Murph eventually got up and wasn't hurting nearly as bad as the man who threw the pass.

Murph, a senior last season, isn't afraid to bring up the topic to Herford.

"Every time I see him," Herford said. "It's all in fun and games. 'Herf, why did you try to kill me? What did I ever do to you?'"

In that same game, won by Baylor 36-35 after the Bears trailed 35-17 with less than 10 minutes remaining, Herford had a Leo Bookman moment, dropping a pass that could have gone for a touchdown after he had badly beaten his man.

After the game, Herford's mother and father consoled him. Teammates took the baton from there.

"Every day it was, 'Herf, don't worry about it," Herford said. "You made a mistake. Really what matters is how you come back from it."

How has Herford come back from it? He leads the Big 12 with a kick return average of 28.7. He has caught only three passes, and the jury remains out on him as a receiver. Herford, though, said he doesn't need to see the charts the coaching staff keeps on dropped balls in practice to know he's not dropping nearly as many this season.

"I've had time to adjust to the position, and things are coming more smooth now," he said. "I know that people make mistakes. Jerry Rice, he dropped balls through his senior year in college, but he was able to become the greatest NFL receiver to ever touch the field. That's the main thing that gives me hope and push and drive."

Herford had eight receptions last season, three so far this year. Murph's departure created an opportunity for more playing time, but Aqib Talib is being used more often on offense than last season, and true freshman Dezmon Briscoe, averaging 16 yards on 12 receptions (three touchdowns), is playing ahead of Herford.

"I've got to make the best of what time I am out there," Herford said. "My main deal is I want to help the team. Of course I want to be out there. At the same time, I know we have capable guys out there making plays. How could I even be that selfish to be mad that I'm not out there when we have guys out there making great plays? That would be completely selfish of me."

Spoken as if written by a coach, which fits because Herford said he wants to get into coaching when his playing days end.

Besides, the more Briscoe plays, the smarter Herford looks. Both players attended Cedar Hill High in Dallas. Before the summer school session started, the receivers worked out together at home, lifting weights, running and catching passes.

"I told the coaches he's going to be great, and it's proven to be the right deal," Herford said. "When we worked out, he had the willingness to want to learn, he listened and he ran precise routes already."

Herford ran a nice route with a great burst of speed. He just dropped the pass.

"I had probably 15, 20 people there," Herford said. "When I dropped that ball it really hit me deep. I didn't want my family to see that, but things happen, and they know that. After the game, they gave me support just like a family should do, and that's what they do all the time. Hugs, kisses, you know how that goes."

Herford said his father, Money Martin, and mother, Demetrice Clinkscale, and one of his sisters would be in Memorial Stadium for Saturday's game against Baylor.

"They know it's an important one for me, especially with them being a Texas school and because of what happened last year," Herford said.

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