Pat Dorsey and Richard Johnson’s big hits in practice also come with some friendly advice to the Kansas running backs.
“We always tell them, ‘Hey, don’t come through that middle. It’s the Bash Brothers,’” Dorsey said with a laugh.
Though KU’s starters at defensive tackle might still have to earn the “bash” part of their nickname, the “brothers” part already seems to fit.
Both arrived at KU in 2007, and they quickly found out they had even more in common. During an early conversation, they discovered they were born the same day: March 2, 1989.
“That’s when we really became close,” Dorsey said.
The juniors have looked out for each other ever since.
When Johnson was moved from defensive end to defensive tackle his freshman year, he noticed that one of Dorsey’s strengths was his ability to use his hands to shed blockers.
“That’s one of the things I struggled with early on,” Johnson said. “I just came to him for a couple quick tips.”
Dorsey didn’t hesitate. He stayed after practice with Johnson, going through drills to help him improve.
“That guy, he’s violent with his hands now,” Dorsey said, “and he’s ready to go.”
Whether it’s fishing during the weekend or playing Xbox during the week, the two have remained close during their years in Lawrence. They also sit next to each other in meetings and partner up during drills at practice.
Both players will have a lot expected of them this year.
Dorsey, at 6 feet, 273 pounds, is out to prove that his small stature won’t keep him from being a productive player in the Big 12.
In fact, much of the time, he said, his low center of gravity worked to his advantage, allowing him to gain leverage on offensive linemen who try to block him too high.
“Guys underestimate me all the time,” Dorsey said. “That’s their loss. If you’re going to underestimate me, then, you know, you’d better watch out.”
Dorsey recorded eight tackles last year in nine games, with almost all of his production coming early in the year. By now, he’s used to hearing that he’s too small to play.
“That’s a big motivation, being a little guy in the Big 12,” Dorsey said. “Everybody’s coming down on you, saying, ‘Oh, he’s a little guy. There’s nothing to worry about.’ But I use that as motivation that I am a little guy, and I’m going to show you what I can do.”
KU defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt said Dorsey thrived at getting separation from blockers by using his hands.
The Houston native also has been the most consistent of KU’s defensive tackles.
“It helps me sleep better,” Wyatt said. “You turn that tape on, he’s always where he’s supposed to be. He’s always around the ball.”
Johnson started the first five games last year, recording 17 tackles. His playing time also decreased as the season progressed.
“A lot of up and downs for me (last year). More downs, if you know what I’m saying,” Johnson said. “I just want to come back this year and be an impact player.”
If things go to plan, he’ll have that type of year next to his good friend — and fellow Bash Brother — Dorsey.
“We’ve got that bond,” Dorsey said. “He has my back; I have his.”