Let the showcase begin.
Kansas University senior James Sims, a running back from Irving, Texas, who was the Jayhawks’ leading rusher during all four years of his college career, will play for the National squad in today’s NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, which will be televised live on ESPN2 at 5 p.m. from the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
Former KU quarterback Dayne Crist won MVP honors at last year’s game. He was one of five Jayhawks to play in the postseason all-star event, joining Trevor Marrongelli, Toben Opurum, Josh Williams and Duane Zlatnik.
In addition to suiting up and representing their schools one last time, NFLPA Collegiate Bowl players get the opportunity to network with and learn from current and former NFL players while being coached by former NFL head coaches Dick Vermeil (National) and Denny Green (American).
KU coach Charlie Weis said throughout the past couple of seasons that Sims was talented enough to play in the NFL. Sims was the Big 12’s leading rusher in conference games with 92.1 yards per contest and also finished 2013 ranked second in the league with 1,110 rushing yards.
That made Sims the first player in Kansas history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
A two-time All-Big 12 performer, Sims leaves Kansas among the career leaders in several categories. Sims’ 3,592 rushing yards rank third on KU’s all-time list, and his 34 career rushing touchdowns rank second.
Two Jayhawks still alive in NFL playoffs
With just four teams remaining in the quest to become Super Bowl XLVIII champions, KU is well represented and, barring injury, guaranteed to have a former player competing in the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 in New York.
Former All-American cornerback Aqib Talib and his New England Patriots will travel to Denver on Sunday to face former KU linebacker Steven Johnson and the Denver Broncos at 2 p.m., with a trip to the big game on the line.
In addition to being billed as Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning for the 15th time, the game is a battle of the top two seeds in the AFC and figured to be a reunion for Talib and former KU cornerback/current Bronco Chris Harris. But Harris, arguably the Broncos’ defensive MVP, tore his ACL in last week’s victory over San Diego and will instead watch from the sideline. Talib and Harris were the starting corners in KU’s Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech in 2008.
Johnson, who led KU in tackles during his junior and senior seasons, is a reserve linebacker and starter on special teams for the Broncos, who are favored by five points.