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Archive for Friday, June 3, 2011

Tweaking KU football LB corps tempting

June 3, 2011

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For the record, I’m not interested in the linebackers vacancy on Turner Gill’s staff unless I can coach Jimmay Mundine and Brandon Bourbon.

They both play for offensive coordinator Chuck Long, not for defensive coordinator Vic Shealy, which is good for Long, bad for Shealy.

The previous coaching staff recruited Mundine as a linebacker and to look at the way he’s built is to imagine Lawrence Taylor at a similar age. Mundine’s an inch shorter, but he’s cut the same way. He just looks like a linebacker, a fast, thick, versatile linebacker. Yet, once the new staff took over and had to re-recruit the players, they decided to lure Mundine as a tight end.

“I watched some film of him and once I came back and told coach (Gill), I said, ‘This guy could be a great linebacker, but he’s already a great tight end.’ I mean, he’s an athletic guy,” retiring defensive coordinator Carl Torbush said.

So far, Mundine hasn’t been interested in switching to linebacker. Same for Brandon Bourbon, who changed his commitment from Stanford to KU. Both guys have all-conference potential at linebacker.

When a defensive coach recommends such a talented defensive prospect as a tight end to the head coach, that says something.

Bourbon, another outstanding athlete, competes at the team’s deepest position, but he’s confident he’ll rise to the top and turned down an offer to play defense.

“The more of those guys you can get that can play here (offense) or here (defense), the more opportunities you’ve got to win,” Torbush said. “Toben Opurum is the perfect example. Pretty good running back, got a chance to be a really outstanding defensive end by the time he leaves here. You want those athletic type guys who can run and have the ability to play both sides.”

Mundine’s leaping ability and agility in going up, down, over and out to grab off-target passes will come in handy. In the spring game, when he caught three passes, he looked as if he’ll catch everything thrown near him and has the strength to rip 50-50 balls away from defenders. Look for Long to find a way to use Mundine and three-year starter Tim Biere together as much as possible.

Bourbon, faster than James Sims and even Darrian Miller, made a big impression at running back during the spring before suffering an injury.

Still, it’s tough not to daydream about a linebacker trio of Mundine, Darius Willis and Bourbon without picturing a faster version of Mike Rivera, Joe Mortensen and James Holt.

At Tuesday’s news conference to announce that Torbush was retiring because he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, Gill also announced Shealy’s promotion and Buddy Wyatt’s adding co-coordinator to his defensive line title.

As a cagey way of determining whether I wanted the linebackers job, I asked if the new assistant would have any shot at coaching Mundine and Bourbon.

Gill laughed.

“We’ll see,” he said, then ended the press conference, saying, “All right, we’re good.”

Unlike Donald Trump, I’m not about to say I could have had the job if I wanted it.

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