Archive for Friday, April 11, 2008

Kansas lands a legacy

April 11, 2008


Former Kansas University running back Tony Sands loves the coincidence - he enrolled at KU in 1988 on a football scholarship, just after the men's basketball team won the national championship.

Now, his son is about to do the same.

The Jayhawks received an oral commitment from running back Deshaun Sands on Thursday.

Sands, a high school junior, will graduate from Monarch High in Coconut Creek, Fla., this winter and enroll at Kansas in time for spring football in 2009.

He already has the KU spirit down.

"He watched the national championship game," Tony Sands said of KU's basketball victory over Memphis. "He was screaming through the whole house."

Tony Sands said that love for KU has stuck to Deshaun since he was a toddler. Tony was married with two sons while playing at Kansas, and Deshaun started elementary school in Lawrence before the family moved away in 1995.

"His friends say their dream offer is from Miami," Tony said. "Deshaun tells them, 'That's not my dream offer. My dream offer is KU.'"

He got it, and soon after became the Jayhawks' first known commitment for the 2009 class.

Deshaun Sands is a 5-foot-9, 175-pound all-purpose running back who rushed for 1,486 yards and 13 touchdowns for Monarch last season.

Tony claims Deshaun is more advanced than he was coming out of high school in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in the 1980s.

"We're both tough-nosed runners," Tony said. "His receiving skills are a lot sharper than mine were when I was at KU.

"His advancement and his knowledge of the game - where he's at now, I was probably getting there my sophomore year at KU. He's been around football his whole life."

Tony and Deshaun made a quick trip to Kansas City, Mo., last fall to watch the Border War game between Kansas and Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium. Tony was out of town when KU played in the Orange Bowl, but Deshaun watched on television as the Jayhawks beat Virginia Tech, 24-21.

Tony Sands, of course, remains one of KU's most popular former greats. He played at KU from 1988 to '91, and ranks second all-time in both career rushing yardage (3,788) and single-season rushing yardage (1,442) in school history.

He's best known for his final game, of course, when he set the then-NCAA record with 396 rushing yards in a 53-29 victory over Missouri. His 58 carries that day remains an NCAA record.

Deshaun is aware of what his father accomplished. And reaching those marks is an early goal of his.

"I'm going to try and do what he did at Kansas," Deshaun told, "but do it better."


Position changes: A couple of KU players have changed positions this spring, including one of local interest.

Free State High grad Ryan Murphy enrolled at KU as a wide receiver but has since moved to cornerback. Murphy played cornerback (along with quarterback) for the 2006 FSHS team that went to the Class 6A semifinals.

Also moving is junior Olaitan Oguntodu, who is now playing strong safety. Oguntodu started as a safety but spent time at linebacker and running back in 2007.

"He's really doing well," Mangino said of Oguntodu. "His time on offense has helped him become a better defensive player. I'm very pleased with his spring."


No more Whittemore: Former KU quarterback Bill Whittemore has left his graduate-assistant post with the Jayhawks and moved back to his native Tennessee.

Whittemore accepted a job as an assistant athletic director at Franklin Road Academy, a private school in Nashville. He will assist in coaching the football team and possibly coach a spring sport as well.

"I'm excited, man," Whittemore said. "I really am. It's good to be back home."

Whittemore played at KU in 2002 and 2003, leading the Jayhawks to the Tangerine Bowl. He came back in 2006 as a graduate assistant.


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