Thursday could be a big day for the future of Kansas University’s offensive line.
After originally expecting to announce his college choice in January, Orlando offensive lineman Duaron Williams now plans to choose between KU, Iowa State and Central Florida on Thursday.
Although each school appears to have a solid shot at landing Williams, KU coach Charlie Weis was the last to visit Williams. Weis, who had hip-replacement surgery Monday in Florida, stopped in to say hello to Williams last week on the final day of the recruiting period.
“That showed me something,” Williams told Rivals.com. “He told me he really wants me at Kansas. He showed me how important I am. The visit was a lot of fun. Coach Weis is a good guy and has a lot of fun.”
Williams, 6-foot-4, 298 pounds, had been on KU’s radar prior to Weis’ hire. Interim head coach and former recruiting coordinator Reggie Mitchell had been in contact with Williams throughout KU’s transition, and Williams said the attention helped KU stay in the mix.
“I always believe you commit to a school and not a staff,” Williams told Rivals. “The staffs can change just like they did at Kansas. So you have to know you will like the school. Coach Mitchell did a great job keeping me up-to-date when the staff changed. He has been recruiting me for a long time. He has let me know everything to keep me informed.”
Williams projects as a guard in college and ranks as the 29th-best player in the nation at his position in the Class of 2012. He has narrowed his choices to a final three from a list of offers that included: Mississippi State, Kentucky, Louisville, Mississippi, Rutgers, South Florida, Washington State and others.
Coaching staff a work in progress
There has been grumbling about the slow pace with which Weis has gone about hiring a defensive coordinator and filling out the rest of his coaching staff. But according to KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger, the delay has been by design. Monday night, during his time on “Hawk Talk with Bill Self,” Zenger talked about the ongoing quest for assistant coaches and shed light on Weis’ timetable.
“I’m watching him go through this process, and it’s really an old scientific term that we used to use in data collection of sifting and sorting through the folks and trying to get just the right combination,” Zenger said. “Sometimes I find myself shifting into fan mode when he shares names with me: I kind of go, ‘Well, hire him, hire him and hire him,’ but that’s not what he needs to do. He needs to make sure he gets the right puzzle pieces together to make this thing really work.”
Zenger, who has been a part of football coaching staffs at Kansas State, South Florida and Wyoming, says there is more that goes into putting together a coaching staff that many might think.
“That’s what he’s going through now,” Zenger said. “We’re going through background checks, and you gotta make sure the spouses would be happy in Lawrence. People don’t think about that, but when you bring together a staff of nine full-time assistants, you’re also bringing together nine families. And that’s critical to the chemistry of the staff.”
Jayhawks in the playoff hunt
With two weeks remaining in the NFL’s regular season, playoff positioning is the talk of the league. That’s good news for a couple former KU players whose pro teams are on the brink of postseason play.
The player whose team appears to be in the best shape is running back Moran Norris of the San Francisco 49ers. Although Norris has been inactive for the past three weeks, the 49ers have continued their improbable run under first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh. San Fran, at 11-3, has clinched the NFC West division title and is battling New Orleans (11-3) for the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.
Wide receiver Kerry Meier of the Atlanta Falcons (9-5) needs just one more victory, or a loss by Chicago, Seattle, Arizona and New York, to lock down a spot in the NFC playoffs.
In the AFC, cornerback Chris Harris, a part-time starter for the Denver Broncos (8-6), leads the way as the Broncos currently sit in first place in the AFC West and are attempting to hold off former KU safety Darrell Stuckey and the San Diego Chargers (7-7), Oakland (7-7) and Kansas City (6-8) for the division title.
Offensive lineman Anthony Collins and the Cincinnati Bengals, at 8-6, are tied with the New York Jets for the final wild-card spot, but would lose the tiebreaker if the two teams finish with the same record.
Tampa Bay (4-10), with cornerback Aqib Talib and wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe, is the only team containing former Jayhawks that is out of the hunt.