Dezmon Briscoe takes a three-game streak of 100-yard receiving games into the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., against Minnesota on New Year’s Eve. He attributes part of his increased production to improving his ability to read defenses.
And how did that improvement come about? Through hours of work in the film room? By picking the brains of fellow receivers Dexton Fields and Kerry Meier and quarterback Todd Reesing?
Well, not exactly.
“The updates to Madden 09,” Briscoe said, referencing the video game, Madden NFL 09.
“They roll their defenses now,” Briscoe said. “Their game systems now are just crazy. Me playing Madden helps me read defenses on the field.”
Briscoe said he hasn’t shared that secret with his coaches.
“No, I can’t tell them that,” Briscoe said. “They’d think I’m crazy.”
Crazy like a fox, Briscoe said he spends most of his free time playing the EA Sports video game, often against his best friend on the team, reserve running back Rell Lewis.
A 6-foot-3, 200-pound sophomore from Cedar Hill High in Dallas, Briscoe one day could be a player not just of but in as well Madden NFL 09. He’s fast, blessed with shifty moves that enabled him to amass 195 yards in kickoff returns in the 40-37 victory over Missouri, his only game returning kicks. Unlike in his freshman season, Briscoe seldom drops a pass now and even caught a ball one-handed, pressing it against his helmet.
“It’s crossed my mind a couple of times when I scroll through teams and see players like Aqib Talib and Anthony Collins, people I played with,” Briscoe said of his name appearing in the Madden game. “That always boosts my momentum, knowing I have a chance to go. I talk to them all the time, and they tell me if I just keep my head on right I’ve got a chance.”
Briscoe said the receiver he points to as a model for what he could become is Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals.
“That guy, he’s quiet,” Briscoe said. “I’m quiet. He produces every week, week by week. I believe that’s the kind of receiver I am.”
Briscoe ranks second on the team to Meier with 78 receptions. He leads the Jayhawks with 1,206 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. Minnesota’s top receiver, Eric Decker, had 76 receptions for 925 yards and six touchdowns. The fact Briscoe earned second-team All-Big 12 honors and Decker was an All-Big Ten selection illustrates what a pass-happy conference the Big 12 was this season.
Briscoe ranks as one of Mark Mangino’s top recruits, not just for what he has done in two seasons, but for the example that can be made of him to top recruits eager to play right away and not have to wait their turn at one of the perennial national powers.
“There were a couple of recruits who came in last weekend, and I sat down with them and talked to them about the success I have had here and how I got to play early,” Briscoe said. “I told them if they come in here with the mentality that they want to win, that they want to play, and they’re very coachable, they will get a chance to play. I think they took that to heart.”
Briscoe decided not to play Madden 09 against them.
“No, I didn’t want to embarrass them like that,” he said. “I want them to come first. When they commit, then they can play a little Madden.”
He’ll wait until then to embarrass them the way he has been embarrassing cornerbacks since coming to Kansas and getting open for quarterback Todd Reesing.