Archive for Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Column: Laying odds on Kansas’ top rusher

Kansas running back Taylor Cox prepares to head through the gauntlet during a spring practice on Tuesday, April 2, 2013, at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Taylor Cox prepares to head through the gauntlet during a spring practice on Tuesday, April 2, 2013, at Memorial Stadium.

July 29, 2014

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A suggestion to fertilize your interest in the upcoming Kansas University football season:

When you gather for your annual NFL fantasy draft, virtually or in person, add a second competition, a more difficult one.

Limit the supplemental draft to six participants.

Determine the order via blind draw. Each participant drafts one player after paying the $20 (Monopoly money, of course) entry fee for the winner-take-all competition.

The one who drafts KU’s leading rusher for the 2014 season wins the pot of fake money, the bragging rights that go with it and everybody wins one more reason to stay engaged in KU football, although holders of the top three selections have a big advantage on the final three.

No need to look for a guide to bring to the supplemental fantasy football draft. All the research you need is right here, including the odds of the six leading contenders to become KU’s first rushing leader not named James Sims since Toben Opurum gained 554 yards on the ground in 2009.

Reader poll
Which player will lead the KU football team in rushing yards in 2014?

or See the results without voting

Taylor Cox, 5-foot-11, 212 pounds, senior (3-1 odds): A medical red-shirt last season, Cox has averaged 5.3 yards and run for three scores on his 97 carries in a KU uniform. He has a strong build and accelerates to his top speed quickly and could pile up the yards running in the middle of a spread offense.

Brandon Bourbon, 6-1 1⁄2, 225, senior (4-1): Has averaged 5.2 yards on his 81 carries for KU and has rushed for four touchdowns. Also a receiving threat, Bourbon brings speed and size. This represents his first and last chance to be the team’s featured running back.

De’Andre Mann, 5-10, 205, junior (5-1): KU was hopeful Traevohn Wrench and Darrian Miller would be on the roster, which would have made for outrageous depth. The Jayhawks weren’t in the market for a running back when Mann was discovered, but his film so impressed the coaching staff the juco sensation quickly became a must-have back. He rushed for 1,706 yards and 30 touchdowns for Hartnell College, a California juco.

Tony Pierson, 5-10 1⁄2, 175, senior (10-1): Moved to receiver last season after two years at running back. He’s the team’s most experienced Big 12 running back with 206 carries and has averaged 6.4 yards. The team’s best big-play threat, Pierson’s concussion history keeps him out of the running for featured-back duties, and he likely will remain at receiver and make appearances in the backfield now and then.

Corey Avery, 5-10, 175, freshman (20-1): Dating to Baron Davis pulling the hat trick and ultimately donning a UCLA cap, KU fans never have been huge fans of athletes lining up caps for signing ceremonies, but it thrilled many when Avery did so and chose Kansas instead of traditional powers Nebraska and Texas. It’s possible he’ll be limited to return duties as a true freshman, but if he looks talented enough in camp, he could get his fair share of carries.

Montell Cozart, 6-2, 195, sophomore (20-1): He’s a treat to watch run the football, but in college, sacks count against the quarterback’s rushing totals, which would hurt his chances of leading the team in rushing. Plus, he hasn’t filled out yet and is a little on the slender side, so it’s not as if he’ll be carrying it 20 times a game.

The field (50-1): Not much from which to choose here because the carries won’t be available. But in the anything-is-possible category, Michael Cummings, Nick Harwell and Trevor Pardula (in the event of excessive fake-punt calls) all must be considered.

Vote for the player you think will lead KU in rushing and see if you can find five buddies to pony up for a friendly competition.

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