The best-dressed football player in Lawrence had just finished soaking in his first college game and seemed to appreciate what a great time — better than at any time in the school’s history — it is to be a freshman for Kansas University.
Bradley McDougald, a man with a firm grasp on fashion right down to his shiny white gators, dressed like a young man who considers playing football at Kansas a privilege, not a right. He also sounded like a man who didn’t know he was walking into the middle of a big-time atmosphere.
“When I was being recruited, I made it to a basketball game, and then I made it to the spring game, so I never saw the stadium the way it was tonight,” said McDougald, a native of Dublin, Ohio. “I’m definitely happy I came here.”
The tailgating scene had a serious buzz to it, adding to the big-time feel. The students turned out in huge numbers, a must.
“We’re coming into the season with great expectations, but we have to come in and prove it every day,” he said. “I feel the fans really added to the atmosphere tonight.”
And then subtracted from it when far too many students didn’t stay through the final play. It’s the last hurdle that needs to be cleared for Kansas’ evolution to a big-time football school. With five Memorial Stadium games left in the careers of Todd Reesing and Kerry Meier — would have been six but for the Missouri game being moved off campus — look for the student body to realize soon that it makes no sense to miss a single play of their careers.
Reesing and Meier qualify as reasons McDougald feels fortunate to play football for Kansas. The great thing about senior stars is that it gives head starts to freshmen. In the early days of Reesing’s career, receivers had to learn as they went along that with him buying time play after play, they would be rewarded for never letting up, forever trying to get open. Now it’s so ingrained in the veterans it immediately is picked up by rookies as standard operating procedure. The same goes for the way receivers block. They did a terrific job of that in the season-opening 49-3 blowout of overmatched Northern Colorado, especially an extremely physical Kerry Meier.
“We have this thing called ‘scramble rule,’” said McDougald, who debuted with two catches for 49 yards. “As a play breaks down, you could tell we don’t ever stop. We keep going through the echo of the whistle. As long as Todd is up on his feet, you never know what to expect.”
The best thing about playing with Reesing?
“Just the way he never gives up,” McDougald said. “He’s definitely smart. ... Sometimes in the meeting rooms he knows more than the coaches. Just playing with a quarterback like him will do wonders with my future.”
He said the same about teaming with Meier.
“I had great blocking upfield from Kerry and Tertavian (Ingram), and that kind of symbolizes our wide-receiver corps,” McDougald said. “We’re always looking out for each other. Kerry’s just an animal. He really overemphasizes the little things to make his overall game better. He’s definitely more a player-coach on the field. That definitely is a bonus for me as a young player.”