The inconsistent and uncertain saga surrounding Kansas University defensive lineman Ty McKinney received a little clarity Friday.
KU coach Charlie Weis announced, via a press release, that McKinney, a junior-college transfer from Trinity Valley Community College in Texas, finally would be allowed to finish his class requirements on Friday, Sept. 7, and then would report to Lawrence immediately.
“This still allows Ty to enroll this fall as a full-time student at KU,” Weis said. “Our academic support staff is working to create a schedule so that as soon as Ty arrives he can catch up academically.”
Weis said earlier this week that McKinney, a 6-foot-3, 310-pound junior, had completed all of the course work required for his junior-college degree but that the material had not yet been graded. According to the rules of his current school, McKinney is not allowed to take the final exam in his lone class until that course work is graded.
Weis said KU’s support staff had been working closely with the dean of McKinney’s school to help move the process along. He also said that getting McKinney to campus in time to perform academically was as important, at this point, as his performance on the football field. He reiterated that point in Friday’s press release.
“Once his academic situation is in order, he will get up to speed in football,” Weis said. “There is no acclimatization period that Ty must fulfill as far as practice is concerned.”
Obviously, with a Sept. 7 arrival, McKinney would miss KU’s first game — Sept. 1 vs. South Dakota State — and be in serious jeopardy of missing at least the first two. However, KU defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt said McKinney should have time to catch up.
“He’s played a lot of football so I think he’s probably a little further ahead than if he was a freshman coming in in this situation,” Wyatt said. “You don’t know. When he gets here, we’ll find out.”
The fact that KU has reshaped nearly its entire defensive line this offseason should benefit McKinney, Wyatt said.
“We’re counting on a lot of guys who weren’t here in the spring and weren’t here in the summer, so we’ve kept the scheme relatively simple so our guys can come here and execute,” he said. “We gotta wait until he gets here and see where he is and progress from there.”
In the meantime, Wyatt backed Weis’ earlier statement that the KU staff had done all they could to get McKinney to campus.
“(Recruiting coordinator) Rob Ianello and (associate athletic director for student support) Paul Buskirk have really done a wonderful job with Ty,” said Wyatt, who recruited McKinney last winter during the transition from Turner Gill to Weis. “I’ve just talked to him intermittently, just to encourage him to keep going and don’t give up. It seems like it’s been one thing after another with him, but he’s still been in pretty decent spirits.”
Linebacker leaves team
Weis also announced Friday that junior linebacker Jon Shelby had left the team for personal reasons.
Shelby, an offseason transfer who came to KU from Nassau Community College in New York, was listed on KU’s preseason depth chart as a one of two players vying for a second-string spot at outside linebacker.
“It is important at this time to protect Jon’s privacy,” Weis said. “We hope to have him back at KU sometime in the future.”
KU junior Ron Doherty continues to look like a one-man band in the Jayhawks’ kicking department. Doherty, who entered preseason camp as the top place-kicker, punter and kickoff specialist, may carry all three duties into next week’s season opener.
“We’re fortunate to have him,” said special teams coordinator Clint Bowen of Doherty. “We’d like to limit some of his duties, but, right now, he continues to be the best at all three spots.”
Bowen said Doherty’s contributions to the team go beyond his ability to kick.
“Doherty has really matured and taken a leadership role amongst the special teams and embraced that he’s the guy,” Bowen said. “He just needs to keep focused, keep working and he’s got a chance to have a pretty special year.”
As for the guys behind him, although Bowen said none of them were ready to unseat Doherty in the starting role, he has been encouraged by the progress of reserves such as sophomore punter Sean Huddleston, sophomore kicker Nick Prolago and freshman kicker Austin Barone.
“A couple of those younger kids can hit the ball pretty well,” Bowen said. “So we are OK there. If something did happen to Doherty, we’re fine.”
‘Hawk Talk’ Monday
Monday night will mark the first “Hawk Talk with Charlie Weis” weekly radio show of the 2012 season.
Previously broadcast on Thursdays, the show has been moved up to Monday nights and can be heard throughout Kansas on the Jayhawk IMG Radio Network affiliates, including locally on KLWN 1320. The show will take place from 7-8 p.m. each Monday of game weeks, and will be aired live from Salty Iguana.
KU coach Charlie Weis and various members of his coaching staff will be the featured guests at a preseason barbecue Thursday outside of Memorial Stadium.
All proceeds raised by the event, which will begin at 7 p.m. and will take place on the hill near the south end zone, will go toward Weis’ Hannah & Friends charity, which provides a positive living environment for people with special needs.
For more information or to purchase tickets ($150 apiece), contact Sharon at email@example.com or via telephone at (574) 214-7959.