Opinion: Sorry, Tiger: Tony Pierson top draw

April 11, 2013, 12:16 a.m. Updated April 11, 2013, 9:08 a.m.


Sure, we’ll enjoy watching Phil Mickelson squeezing shots through needle-eye openings, Dustin Johnson pounding drives into orbit and Kevin Na draining 30-footers during the Masters coverage. And we’ll enjoy listening to the announcers call the spectators “patrons.” All of that will help pass the time toward the real attention magnet.

Tiger Woods has his best shot at a 15th major title since he backed his Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant in 2009 and out spilled tales of a secret sex life with waitresses, porn stars and various other plastic-surgery patients. His marriage, carefully crafted image and lethal putting stroke simultaneously blew up. He suffered a two-year victory drought. Now he’s back to No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings and in the heart of Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn. Awww.

Tiger last won a major, the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, nine weeks after Mario Chalmers hit that three-pointer against Memphis, but it feels as if he’ll win this weekend.

Kansas University’s spring football game has a Tiger Woods element to it, except that in one sense it brings even more suspense. We have a pretty good idea when the camera will return to Tiger. We won’t know when the ball will find the hands of KU’s most electric player, junior-to-be Tony Pierson.

“Obviously, we have big plans for Tony,” Kansas coach Charlie Weis said. “We didn’t do all that research on Tavon Austin for nothing now.”

Charlie never shies from cranking up expectations. Austin finished eighth in the 2012 Heisman Trophy voting after amassing 1,289 receiving yards and 643 rushing yards (8.9 per carry) and returning punts and kicks. He scored 17 touchdowns in four different ways for West Virginia.

As a running back his sophomore season, Pierson rushed for 760 yards (6.5 per carry) and four touchdowns and averaged 13.9 yards on 21 receptions, two for touchdowns. The revealing of his new role, as a receiver first, a running back second, comes Saturday.

The 5-foot-8, 173-pound Austin has thicker build than the longer Pierson (5-10 1/2, 171) and they bring similar speed.

“This is a copycat business,” Weis said. “All those people who try to act like all their ideas are original, they’re all liars because when you’ve got somebody who’s doing something that’s really good and you’ve got somebody who kind of fits that bill, you go study them. ... Tony’s clearly the most dynamic running back we have. OK, the only problem is he might be the most dynamic receiver we have as well.”

As Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive coordinator in 2010, Weis coached Dexter McCluster (5-8, 170).

“Tony’s faster than Dexter by a significant margin,” Weis said. “Although Tony’s got toughness, hardly anyone’s tougher than Dexter. … Tony’s in that 4.3-and-change range and Dexter’s that 4.5 guy. Two-tenths is significant. I’d take Dexter, too, if you want to give him to me. We’d get him in there.”

Can’t have him, but it will be interesting to watch Pierson in person for the 1 p.m. kickoff, even if it means using the DVR to capture Tiger’s simultaneous chase of the Masters Field and Jack Nicklaus.


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