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Dugan Arnett’s KU football notebook

December 11, 2008

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Quigley working at linebacker

The Kansas University football team’s current season might still be three weeks from completion, but that hasn’t stopped coaches from looking ahead to 2009.

In preparation for a possible position change heading into next year, junior running back Angus Quigley — the team’s second-leading rusher in ’08 — has spent considerable time working at linebacker.

“He’s built like a linebacker,” said senior linebacker Joe Mortensen on Wednesday. “You guys have seen what he can do when he lowers his head and he runs and he hits people. I don’t know if (the position switch) is for sure — they still have him taking reps at running back — but coaches are experimenting with it.”

Quigley emerged this season as the team’s top running back early on, cracking the starting lineup against Sam Houston State and Iowa State and finishing the regular season with 309 yards and three touchdowns to go along with a team-best 5.2 yards-per-carry average.

However, the eventual emergence of fellow-back Jake Sharp, along with a pair of fumbles against Texas, limited Quigley’s snaps down the stretch.

The potential switch to linebacker, presumably, is a way for Kansas coaches to get the physically-imposing Quigley on the field more often, and Mortensen is doing nothing to dissuade his teammate from considering a switch to the defensive side of the ball.

“He’s got the nastiness about him,” said Mortensen, one of three starting linebackers that will graduate following this season. “I told him it’s fun, and I definitely think he can play linebacker.”

UM’s Decker two-sport athlete

Given his multi-faceted dedication to Minnesota University athletics, it would be hard to argue that Gophers standout receiver Eric Decker’s contributions to the school have come up short.

In addition to earning first-team all-Big Ten honors as a receiver this season, Decker is also a starter in left field for the Gophers’ baseball team, batting .329 with 11 doubles, four triples and three home runs last spring.

“He’s like a Bo Jackson, huh?” said Mortensen, told of Decker’s two-sport exploits. “Watching him on film, he can definitely make plays. He’s a great receiver, and it will be a great challenge for our defense to stop him.”

Of course, as KU junior cornerback Justin Thornton pointed out, a baseball skill set likely won’t do much good during the teams’ Insight Bowl matchup Dec. 31.

“Playing two sports at the Division I level takes incredible talent and time; it's definitely great that he's able to do that,” said Thornton, who also considered running track in college. “But I don't think his baseball skills are going to help him in this game.”

Reesing not ready to evaluate season

Although the Kansas football team’s regular season concluded nearly two weeks ago with a victory over Missouri, quarterback Todd Reesing said he hasn’t yet gone back to evaluate his performance in 2008.

“I don’t worry too much about looking back or saying this or that happened, because it’s in the past,” said Reesing, who was left off the all-Big 12 team this year after earning second-team honors in 2007. “There’s not much you can do about it now. The only thing you can do is learn from it and watch the games that you did play and take away things from it.

“At this point, we’re looking towards the bowl game and just trying to improve ourselves and get better and look forward to a chance to get an eighth win.”

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