Former Jayhawk running back Sharp helping others get up to speed
After a tryout with the Chicago Bears, a stint with the Wichita Wild, of the Indoor Football League, and a quick look from the UFL’s Omaha Knighthawks, former Kansas University running back Jake Sharp appears content to hit the brakes on his playing career.
Instead, Sharp plans to help others fine-tune the skill that got him all of those looks and all kinds of yards — speed.
“I think I’ve kind of hung up the whole football thing,” said Sharp during a recent interview with the Journal-World. “I had a lot of interest (from NFL teams). Supposedly I was going to get some calls. But, like everybody else, I was just sitting around waiting on a call that never came.”
The calls that came were from arena and UFL teams, and Sharp was quick to jump on both opportunities. The first was from the Wild, for which he played running back and returned kicks. During his time in Wichita, he averaged 27.4 yards per return in 23 games and also tallied 23 receptions, good for third on the team. In April, he earned IFL Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his four-return, 166-yard effort in a Wichita win. Those numbers included a 55-yard TD return on the game’s opening kickoff.
Such efforts sparked interest in Omaha, where the Knighthawks invited Sharp north for a tryout. His time in the UFL, the country’s second most prestigious pro football league, was short-lived, as he returned home shortly after arriving.
“I went up there and things didn’t work out because I didn’t look the part,” Sharp said.
Disappointed but far from bitter, Sharp decided to hang it up and focus on his second greatest passion — training. He currently runs Sharp Sports Performance, a service that teaches football skills and speed training to young athletes and, this weekend, he’ll host a youth camp (Saturday) and a junior high and high school combine (Sunday) at Olathe Northwest High.
“Nobody ever came to Salina and did something like this for me,” Sharp said. “And that’s something I wish I really had. So we’re just trying to give back to the community and help kids in the state of Kansas.”
Few are more qualified to do so. In addition to being widely known as one of the fastest Jayhawks in recent memory, Sharp has the academic background to back it up. He graduated with a sports management degree and spent most of his days on Mt. Oread taking kinesiology, biology and physiology classes.
“Anyone can improve on their skillset in anything and speed’s the same way,” he said. “There’s turnover, there’s ground-contact time, there’s force through ground, stride length, so many things you can work on.”
Sharp said his KU pedigree has helped get his training service off the ground. He made sure to point out that he wasn’t just one of the lucky ones.
“I wasn’t just born that way,” he said of his blazing speed. “I do and did a lot of things and studied how to be fast.”
Now, he hopes to teach future college football players the skills that will allow them to realize their dreams the way he realized his.
Included among the instructors at Sharp’s camp this weekend are: Former Jayhawks Kerry Meier and Caleb Blakesley; current KU quarterback Jordan Webb; and several former Kansas State and Oklahoma players along with four current NFL players.
Registration begins at 10 a.m. both days and the camps run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with lunch included. For more information, or to register, log on to www.sharpsportsperformance.com.
Biere named to watch list
KU tight end Tim Biere, a senior from Omaha, Neb., was one of 34 players named to the John Mackey Award watch list on Wednesday.
This marks the second consecutive season that Biere, 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, has landed on the list for the award that is given annually to the nation’s best tight end.
Biere led the Jayhawks in touchdown receptions, with four, in 2010. For his career, Biere has totaled 476 yards and four TDs on 39 receptions in 34 career games. He also earned Academic All-Big 12 honors in both his sophomore and junior seasons.