Entries from blogs tagged with “roll”
A paint-by-numbers look at Baylor football, a study in offensive efficiency via blending a fast, powerful running game with a passing game that features fleet receivers and a terrific passer who also happens to be big and athletic and is protected by massive, experienced offensive linemen:
3 — Ranking in the Associated Press poll, tied for highest in school history.
4 — Players with at least five rushes per game and average 7.2 yards per carry or better, led by Shock Linwood (9.42 yards per carry, 146 yards per game.)
5 — Receivers who average 19.5 yards per catch or better.
11 - National-best touchdown receptions by Corey Coleman, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound junior from Richardson, Texas, who has as many touchdowns as KU’s entire roster.
15 — School-record tying career sacks from Shawn Oakman, 6-9, 275-pound defensive end.
19 — Touchdown passes for Seth Russell, who originally committed to current KU head coach David Beaty when Beaty was working for Turner Gill. TCU’s Trevone Boykin, who has played five games compared to four for Russell, is tied with Russell for the national lead.
32.5 — National-best first downs per game.
36 — National-best touchdowns, compiled in just four games.
63.8 — National-best points per game. Other schools left on KU’s schedule: TCU (second, 50.8), Texas Tech (third, 50), Oklahoma (ninth, 42).
218.75 — Russell’s national-best QB rating. Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty ranks second with 184.72, Memphis’ Paxton Lynch third with 181.47.
316 — Average weight in pounds of five starting offensive linemen, compared to an average of 257.4 for KU’s five heaviest defensive starters. That's 1.4 pounds shy of a 50-pound advantage per man.
376.75 — Rushing yards per game, second only to Georgia Southern.
410 — Pounds first-string tight end LaQuan McGowan carries on his 6-7 frame.
“There are couple plays in there that look like at the end of the movie when the team has to score a touchdown and one guy knocks 11 people over and they run behind him and score,” Kansas defensive coordinator Clint Bowen said. “There are couple clips that resemeble that, where he knocks a guy down, knocks another guy down and keeps running. He’s a big fella. ... He’s in there to be a lead blocker. He’s a big human who gets a lot of movement. We have to make sure that we don’t take him on real high.”
745.3 — National-best total yards per game, eclipsing the nation’s second-leading total offense (TCU) by 115.3 yards.
We'll stick with offense to crack into the Top 5, where a newcomer who had a fantastic preseason camp sits as one of the most important players in KU's new Air Raid offense.
His name is Ke'aun Kinner (pronounced Key-On) and he's the latest back in a long line of Jayhawks hoping to keep KU's recent success running the ball rolling.
Here's a look:
5. Ke’aun Kinner, 5-foot-9, 180-pound Jr. Running Back
To look at the 5-foot-9 running back generously listed at 180 pounds is to wonder whether he could withstand the pounding as a featured back. Nothing new about that and Kinner always answers the call. In a game for Little Elm High in Texas, he carried it 55 times and gained 332 yards.
Earning National Junior College Athletic Association offensive player of the year honors last season, Kinner dashed and darted his way to 1,696 yards and 22 touchdowns on 253 carries.
Clearly, he’s more durable than he looks. If not for falling short of qualifying academically out of high school, Kinner might have been recruited by all the Texas heavyweights. Injuries have eaten into KU’s depth here, so a healthy season from Kinner would ease those concerns. He’s a very talented back.
Running backs coach Reggie Mitchell called Kinner a mixture of former Jayhawks Tony Pierson and James Sims and if that's anywhere close to accurate you can see Kinner's enormous potential.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
Back to the list after some significant news out of preseason camp, we find one of the biggest dudes on the team who plays one of the most important positions in the lineup at No. 7.
Here's a look.
7. Larry Mazyck, 6-foot-8, 343-pound Sr. Offensive Lineman
At his size and blessed with long arms and big hands, Mazyck (rhymes with physique) has the look of an NFL prospect. Through this past spring’s practices, Mazyck hadn’t brought the passion or attention to detail to suggest that he was terribly interested in making a career of playing football. The most passion he showed last season came when he talked about how he was “unstoppable” as a basketball player.
Dogged by false-start penalties throughout the year in 2014, the hope for Mazyck in 2015 is that this season’s simpler offense will make it easier for Mazyck to play with the discipline needed to avoid such penalties.
Mazyck has done a nice job of losing weight and was able to withstand the challenging summer workouts that included more running than he ever had been asked to do.
A native of Washington, D.C., Mazyck is in his sixth season since graduating from Friendship Academy. He spent a year at a prep school, a year at Div. I New Mexico, two years at Iowa Western Community College (one as a redshirt), and is in his second season with Kansas. If the motor doesn’t rev consistently throughout fall camp, Beaty won’t hesitate to relegate him to a reserve role by handing the job to a smaller, hungrier player, even if he can’t match Mazyck’s potential.
It’s late in the game for Mazyck to earn anything with potential. If he can bring senior urgency and begin to tap that potential, he can have a significant impact in the passing and running games.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
Today was a mixed bag on the former Kansas University golfer front.
The day started with bad news, when Gary Woodland scratched from the PGA Championship field at 5:30 a.m. because of a neck injury, three hours before he was scheduled to tee off with Francesco Molinari of Italy and Marc Warren of Scotland. First-alternate Carl Pettersson of Sweden took Woodland’s place in the tournament being played at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.
Elsewhere, former KU All-American Chris Thompson continued his hot week with a strong opening round in the Web.com tournament for which he qualified Monday.
Thompson shot a five-under par 67 in the Price Cutter Charity Championship at Highland Springs Country Club in Springfield, Mo. He finished his round by sinking a 15-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th hole. He earned his spot in the field by firing a 64 in Monday’s qualifier.
Thompson’s consistent ball-striking today enabled him to average 291.5 yards off the tee without a drive of longer than 295 yards.
Thompson, who tees off Friday at 2:25, carded 14 pars, three birdies and an eagle. Thompson is in a 20-way tie for 16th, five strokes behind leader Chase Wright. The winner of the event with a total purse of $675,000 will earn $121,500.
Woodland’s chance to compete for the $1.8-million first-place prize and a career-changing victory died when his neck forced him to withdraw in the morning.
Heading into the week, Woodland ranked 27th on the PGA tour money list with $2,448,415, 31st in the FedEx Cup standings and 37th in the World Golf Rankings.
Another player that figures to play an important role in KU's success on defense this season falls in our countdown at No. 13.
Because the Jayhawks are unproven and inexperienced in the secondary and at linebacker, it's going to be important for the guys up front to get after the quarterback on a regular basis.
That's where this guy comes in. Here's a look:
13. Anthony Olobia, 6-foot-5, 241-pound Jr. Defensive End
A defensive end with good size and speed from Renton, Washington, Olobia spent two seasons at Arizona Western Community College and spent his first season at Kansas as a red-shirt.
Olobia plays KU’s deepest position but is too talented to keep on the sideline. His length and quickness off the line of scrimmage give him the potential to terrorize quarterbacks. Olobia had 20 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and eight sacks during his sophomore juco season. His play drew recruiting interest from Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Utah.
KU’s defensive tackles lack size and strength, so Olobia and fellow edge pass rusher Damani Mosby can’t count on the quarterback getting flushed in their direction after the pocket collapses. That’s OK. Two talented pass-rushers coming off the edge can cause even more panic and it looks as if Kansas has two of them to complement third-year starter Ben Goodman, an all-around solid D-End.
Before sitting out last season, Olobia, the No. 2 rated juco D-End in his class, arrived with a big name and a ton of hype. After adjusting to KU and being fueled by his year off, the athletic defender said this spring he was ready to prove he was worth the hype.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
Today's entry on the list of most crucial Jayhawks for the 2015 football season has a little local flavor.
Healthy and ready for his second season in the program, former Free State High standout Joe Dineen has moved back to defense and is ready to play.
When he arrived at KU he walked the line between staying lean and playing safety or bulking up and playing linebacker. After a year doing whatever it took for the team, the guy who earned the nickname "Local Boy" from the media is back on defense and has the KU coaching staff excited about his potential.
Joe Dineen, 6-foot-2, 212-pound Soph. Linebacker
The injuries mounted at running back, including a pair of season-enders in two days, and Kansas turned to the local boy freshman to fill out the depth chart. Joe Dineen was recruited as a defensive player and even though his offensive position in high school was quarterback, he had the talent to project as a running back.
He didn’t play much as a freshman, but now that he’s on defense and has added considerable muscle to his broad frame, look for defensive coordinator Clint Bowen to get Dineen on the field. He could play anywhere from nickelback to outside linebacker, where his speed, nose for the ball and attack mentality all will come in handy.
Dineen speed enables him to drop back into coverage and his naturally aggressive personality gives him a chance to develop into a force who can make plays at and behind the line of scrimmage.
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, Dineen, a sophomore, has the frame to pack on another 15, 20 pounds by the time he uses up his eligibility at Kansas. A graduate of nearby Free State High, Dineen was named Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Kansas in 2013. He wears No. 29 in honor of the late Andre Maloney, a high school foe who was a member of the same KU recruiting class.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
At No. 15 on our countdown we find the second tight end to crack the list as former Florida transfer Kent Taylor lands in the middle of the list.
Taylor sat out last season after transferring from UF and is now learning his third offense in four years. How quickly he picks that up and shows the ability to run things without having to think too much could determine how much the tall, lean and athletic tight end plays during his first year eligible with Kansas.
Here's a deeper look at Taylor:
15. Kent Taylor, 6-foot-5, 220-pound Jr. Tight End
A four-star recruit at tight end when he signed with Florida in 2012, Taylor has played in six college football games, all in 2012.
He redshirted his sophomore season at Florida and then had to sit out last season per transfer rules. He showed during the spring that he has skills as a pass-catcher, but so far two things have held him back from developing into the every-down tight end so many powerhouse schools thought he would become when they recruited him.
First, he has had difficulty putting on weight. He measures 6-foot-5 inches and weighs 220 pounds. Second, he has not shown a passion for blocking, a huge part of that position. He does not have wide-receiver speed. At this point, he’s likely to back up Ben Johnson.
He has shown the potential to make plays in the passing game and create match-up problems down the field with his size and athleticism so it's possible that even in a limited role, Taylor could make an impact when he is on the field.
Teammates say he's a funny dude who likes to clown around and is very hard on himself because he feels the urgency to make his mark and has such a strong desire to win. Despite having little experience, he did play in the Sugar Bowl following the 2012 season and that fact gives him a taste of college football that nearly everyone else on this roster can't come close to matching.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
With Ben Heeney and Jake Love both no longer in the KU lineup, the Jayhawks are looking for someone to step up at linebacker.
Courtney Arnick returns as the most solid and accomplished backer of the bunch, and Schyler Miles and Kyron Watson also return with experience. But both have question marks of their own entering 2015, which leaves the door open for any number of other linebackers to play their way into a serious role in the middle of the KU defense.
One such guy who could fit that mold falls in at No. 17 on our list. Here's a look:
17. Marcquis Roberts, 6-foot-1, 216-pound Jr. Linebacker
The South Carolina graduate transfer missed his first two seasons of college football because of injuries (shoulder surgery; torn acl) and encountered mixed results in the two years he played for the Gamecocks. He started nine games in his first season and six in his second.
At 6-foot-1 and 216 pounds, Roberts is on the small side for a linebacker but compensates with solid speed.
Given the Jayhawks’ serious lack of depth at linebacker, a big season from Roberts could be just the boost that position group needs.
A native of Powder Springs, Georgia, likely will be granted a sixth year of eligibility after this season because both of his red-shirts were of the medical variety.
A three-star linebacker in the Class of 2011 according to Rivals.com, Roberts also received offers from Mississippi State, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Cincinnati and others before choosing South Carolina.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
It's back to the secondary for today's entry on the list of most crucial Jayhawks for the 2015 season.
This Kansas University football player has flown under the radar for much of his career but, as a junior, definitely could be poised to play his way into a much more important role this season.
He has experience, is put together well and is a smart player with great athleticism.
Here's a little more on No. 19.
19. Tevin Shaw, 5-foot-11, 194-pound Jr. Safety
With 2012 signing day just days away, Shaw called Iowa to inform coaches that he was going to sign with the Hawkeyes, who had been recruiting him as a running back. It was at that point that he was informed the school had run out of scholarships. Smaller schools, such as Temple, had moved on at that point, leaving Shaw scrambling.
Kansas saved the day for Shaw, who had rushed for 1,596 yards and 24 touchdowns as a senior, leading Piscataway High to second consecutive New Jersey state title.
KU decided to play him at safety, where he didn’t stand out in practice during his red-shirt season. He played well on special teams as a red-shirt freshman and made a big step forward last season, starting eight games at nickelback. Shaw is coming off a strong spring and is expected to start in the secondary.
Based on his success in high school, Shaw could be available for emergency action at running back, where injuries have left KU extremely thin.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
The beginning of another week brings the latest entry in this summer's edition of the most crucial Jayhawks for the upcoming football season.
With the lower portion of the list packed with defensive backs, it's time to encounter the second offensive lineman in the series, as a versatile junior-college transfer lands on the list at No. 20.
Here's a look.
Be sure to check the links below for Nos. 25-21 and check back throughout the week as we continue to count down the Top 20.
20. De’Andre Banks, 6-foot-3, 309-pound Jr. offensive lineman
The junior-college transfer who participated in spring football impressed coaches with his aptitude and attitude.
He responded well to his first taste of Div. I conditioning and showed a great work ethic in practicing snaps after practice in case he is needed at center.
Banks originally committed to Louisiana Lafayette out of Trinity Valley Community College, but changed his mind when Kansas offered a scholarship. He said he never had experienced the type of workouts that strength and conditioning coach Je’Ney Jackson put the team through during spring football.
His body changed, looked less puffy by the end of the spring. Listed at 6-foot-3, 309 pounds, Banks weighed at least 20 pounds more than that when he arrived at Kansas. As is the case with most of KU’s offensive linemen, guard is his natural position, but that doesn’t mean all of his playing time will come there.
Banks, who’s from the same hometown (Killeen, Texas) but a different high school from injured KU quarterback Michael Cummings, comes to Kansas from Trinity Valley Community College, where he teamed with promising defensive backs Bazie Bates and Brandon Stewart.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
Today we pick back up with this summer's series that recognizes the KU football players who figure to have the most important roles for the Jayhawks during the upcoming season.
After starting with a wide receiver, it's back-to-back D-Backs to get the list going.
Here's a look:
23. Greg Allen, 5-foot-11, 212-pound Jr. Safety
It’s now-or-never time for Allen to establish himself as a starting defensive back. He appeared in eight games as a redshirt freshman, all 12 as a sophomore and even started three. He showed flashes as a solid cover guy and a decent tackler, but didn’t do any one thing well enough to convince anybody that he needs to be on the field. With a big step forward this season he can finish his career as a two-year starter.
Now listed as a safety, Allen has the size (5-foot-11, 212 pounds) and speed for the position and needs to show he can bring the instincts and understanding of the game to contribute in a way he can help others on the field with him become better players.
Since last season ended, Allen has been aggressive on social media in telling himself and his followers that 2015 is the year he needs to make it happen. He has the right attitude and the opportunity is there for him with all four starters from the secondary having graduated.
Allen’s life story makes him an easy athlete for whom to root. When he was 12, Allen’s mother packed their bags and headed from New Orleans to Houston, beating Hurricane Katrina by a couple of days. Allen remembers watching TV and recognizing victims of the disaster.
Most Crucial Jayhawks 2015:
First, the world title. Next challenge for the Kansas University basketball team, a tougher one, the national title.
In winning USA’s first World University Games gold medal in men’s basketball in 10 years, Kansas revealed so many positives about itself. The games also showed there is so much to like about international rules.
Seven quick takeaways from the World University Games:
1 - Thanks to Frank Mason, KU will be tough to beat in close games. Fearless Frank has the quickness, skill and boldness to get where he wants to go with the ball and finishes at the hoop and sets up teammates with equal effectiveness in the clutch.
2 - Even when Wayne Selden’s shots don’t drop, as was the case in the double-overtime, gold-medal-game victory vs. Germany, he has the confidence to come up with big plays late with the game in the balance. He’ll face more athletic players in the college game, but he’ll also be playing the right position this season and far more often than not will be at an athletic advantage against the opposing small forward.
3 - Hunter Mickelson, an active force at both ends, has earned a spot in the rotation with his shot-blocking, tip-ins and consistent energy. Energetic incoming freshman Cheick Diallo projects as the starter, but when he has his freshman moments, KU coach Bill Self has somewhere to turn for relief. Curiously, Self went more with Landen Lucas, the better rebounder but not the defender or scorer that Mickelson is, for most of the second half. Mickelson held German center Bogdan Radosavljevic scoreless in the first half. Radosavljevic awakened when Mickelson sat.
4 - Self had to have made a strong impression, setting himself up for bigger jobs on the international stage. There isn’t a better man to coach the Olympic team than Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, committed through the 2016 Games in Rio. But Coach K isn’t going to want to do it forever. His outrageous success as coach of the national team has to increase the chances of the next coach also coming from the college game. Team USA’s performance — so strong on effort and team play — in South Korea should move Self to the head of the non-Coach K division of college coaches, even ahead of Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Kentucky’s John Calipari.
5 - The international shot-clock rules (24 seconds, a reset to 14 seconds after a missed shot rebounded by the offensive team, eight seconds to advance the ball past mid-court) eliminates dead seconds, forces players to make moves and puts the game more in the hands of the players. It would work great in the college game.
6 - The international timeout rules, including limiting each team to two in the final two minutes, keeps an exciting, close game from grinding to a halt. It would lead to quicker games on TV, so that instead of watching the end of a game that doesn’t interest the on-deck audience, viewers can watch all 40 minutes of the games that interest them. The sooner college basketball goes to this format, the better.
7 - The added practice time, overseas bonding, strong performances under pressure can only benefit the Jayhawks in their quest to win what would be Self's second national title and fourth NCAA tournament title for the school. The roster has depth, experience and a clutch performer with the ball in his hands at the end of games and a smart, driven, seasoned coach pulling it all together.
Each summer, across the country, football fans spend time watching, waiting and anticipating the arrival of another college football season. And while that might not always be a favorite pastime of KU fans, many still get sucked in to the journey.
Will this be a better season? Is this the year that things finally get going in the right direction? Will Kansas at least be competitive therein making Memorial Stadium on Saturdays in the fall the place to be instead of a place to avoid? All are common questions KU fans wrestle with every year.
So in order to help you predict the answers to those questions and more, we set out to pinpoint the 25 players that could make the biggest impact for the Jayhawks this fall.
Big seasons from these guys — be them in the form of yards and touchdowns or just consistency and perhaps overachieving — could go a long way toward increasing KU's chances at success during the upcoming season.
This is not a list of the 25 best players on this year's team. That would be much easier to pinpoint and, while still key, would not exactly demonstrate the full value that each player has in regard to the 2015 season.
This is a list of the 25 players who need to have strong seasons in order for the Jayhawks to have a chance to compete.
Matt Tait and I came up with the list by each making our own list of 25 and then combining the results. We did the same thing last year, but most of the guys from that list are gone, which made this list much tougher to put together.
Remember, this is not an exercise designed to identify KU's best players but an attempt to pinpoint which players, with standout seasons, could have the biggest impact for Kansas this fall.
Track the list every weekday at KUsports.com, where we'll unveil the list one-by-one in reverse order.
25. Derrick Neal, 5-foot-10, 170-pound Soph. WR
Week after week, Kansas will face football teams with superior size, experience and depth. The Jayhawks will need big plays to steal touchdowns to close the gap on more talented teams. On defense, that means forcing turnovers. On offense, that means players with game-breaking speed finding daylight via kickoff and punt returns, receptions, rushes to the outside and even trick plays.
Neal is one candidate to find the end zone in a variety of ways, thanks to his speed, accelleration and escapability. At 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, Neal makes for a small target, which can be a good thing in that it can frustrate would-be tacklers into missing.
Neal played four games at last season, appearing at wide receiver, cornerback, and on special teams, until suffering a season-ending injury making a tackle against Baylor. He was used as a punt returner and could be seen there again this season. His size makes him a risky athlete to use as an every-down player, but his speed makes him a weapon that first-year coach David Beaty is going to want to use in a variety of ways.
Neal and twin brother, Erick, originally committed to play basketball at UT-Arlington, where Erick is a sophomore. Derrick changed his mind, orally committed to play football and Texas Tech and ultimately decided to accept a football scholarship at Kansas.
Course knowledge, evidently, can be overrated.
For example, former Kansas golfer Gary Woodland never had played the 100-yard No. 14 hole at TPC Four Seasons Resort until today. That's because the hole didn't exist until today. Heavy rains flooded the fairway so badly that tournament officials shortened the par 4 from 400-plus yards to a 100-yard par 3.
Woodland landed his tee shot just to the right of the cup, inches shy distance-wise. The ball rolled behind the pin and sucked back right into the hole.
Woodland was done in Thursday in the opening round by a triple bogey and a double bogey and was in 90th place heading into the day after a 2-over 72. He carded a 6-under 63 today.
I knew that he was a good enough basketball player to earn a scholarship to Div. II Washburn University, but until browsing Youtube for golf videos, I never actually had seen former Kansas golfer Gary Woodland play basketball.
The video of his highlights playing for Shawnee Heights High revealed Woodland as a vocal leader, flashy ballhandler, strong finisher, sharp shooter and a bit of a hot dog.
Still, Woodland obviously made the right decision to transfer to Kansas to play golf after a basketball season that started with him making 1 of 7 shots and scoring three points in a 101-66 loss to Kansas in an exhibition game in Allen Fieldhouse in November, 2002. Woodland was matched up against Kirk Hinrich.
Nearly 13 years later, Woodland was matched up against Rory McIlroy in the final of the Match Play Championship, losing 4&2. Woodland played seven matches in five days and made some incredible shots along the way.
Woodland missed the cut in The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, then bounced back this past weekend by finishing tied for fourth in the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte. He tied with wedge-magician Phil Mickelson and former Kansas State golfer Robert Streb, another of my favorite golfers to watch. Streb's father, Dave Streb, and I were teammates in Little League and on the freshman basketball team at Bishop Kearney High in Rochester, N.Y.
Anyway, Woodland's recent hot streak has vaulted him all the way to 13th on the PGA tour money list ($2,290,497.50), 17th in the Fed Ex Cup standings and 24th in the World Golf Rankings.
A native of Chickasha, Oklahoma, Streb ranks 10th in the Fed Ex Cup standings, 17th on the money list, 73rd in World Golf Rankings and is third with six top 10 finishes, behind Jordan Spieth with eight and Hideki Matsuyama with seven.)
It's nice to see two golfers from the two Big 12 universities in Kansas doing so well. One of these days, that might even translate to more TV coverage of them during tournaments.
In progress: Rory McIlroy, KU’s Gary Woodland battling for $1.5 million Match Play Championship purse on NBC
Tune your television sets to NBC right now if you want to see a former Kansas University golfer take his shot at bringing down the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world and earning $1.5 million in the process.
Gary Woodland, seeded 52nd in a field of 64 in The Match Play Championship, reached the final by defeating Jimmy Walker in 19 holes in the first round and won his next three matches before reaching the 18th hole. Woodland defeated Danny Willett, three and two, Sunday morning to advance to the final against the world's No. 1-ranked golfer, Rory McIlroy. Woodland trailed McIlroy by four holes at the nine-hole turn.
The event is taking place at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, a course he had said he thought would bring out the best in him.
"It sets up the treeline, just sets up well to my eye," Woodland said earlier this week. "That's the key. It's long, too. The fairways are pretty receptive as well. It widens the fairways for me. If I get driver down there far enough, I can get wedge on the green from about anywhere. I like the setup. The format allows me to play aggressive, which for me is key."
Seated in a comfortable chair in the chancellor’s lounge of the Anderson Family Football Complex, Ben Heeney flipped open the iPhone wallet case in his hand and reviewed his call history Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s only 12:57,” Heeney started. “I’ve gotten a text from the Saints, a call from the Jaguars, a call from the Seahawks. Who else have I gotten a call from? The Browns. I’ve gotten like five calls and one text just today from teams verifying information.”
He wasn’t complaining. Quite the contrary. He’s enjoying the inside look at how NFL teams peel back the layers of the onion that is a draft prospect.
“I mean, that’s just today,” Heeney said. “I’ve probably, in the past week, I’ve probably been in contact with close to every, if not every, team.”
At this point, what more do they want to know about Heeney, former star running back at Hutchinson High and two-time All-Big 12 player, second-team as a junior, first-team as a senior?
Heeney rattled off the typical questions: “Is this the best number to reach you on draft day? Can you give us a secondary number? Is your agent still the same? Any injuries since your pro day? Have you been in any trouble since the last time we saw you?”
Heeney said he interviewed with every NFL team either at the East-West Shrine Game, the NFL combine or pro day on campus. Two teams, the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, came to KU to work him out and the Buccaneers flew him to Tampa for a visit.
He said most of those interviews followed a similar pattern: “Have you ever been in trouble? What’s your family life like? Do you have a girlfriend? Do you have any kids? Are your parents still together? How many siblings do you have? Then all the football questions.”
Heeney said he answered all the questions honestly, including volunteering that he was charged with DUI and racing on a highway in the summer leading up to his freshman season and was granted a diversion.
“That’s not on my record anymore,” he said. “But this day and age everybody is going to know everything about you, so why lie about anything? I’m just straight-up with everybody. I learned from my mistakes and here we are.”
Heeney’s performance for Kansas, plus lobbying from former KU coach Charlie Weis, landed the 6-foot, 232-pound middle linebacker an invitation to the NFL combine. His test results there helped his case. Heeney’s 4.59 time in the 40-yard dash ranked fourth among 35 linebackers. His 11.06-second mark in the 60-yard shuttle was No. 1 and he also had the best times in the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle.
Anybody who remembers watching Heeney as a gunner on special teams as a freshman for Kansas was not surprised that his speed stood out at the combine. Somewhere rests a stack of T-shirts that could have gone to teammates. Heeney remembered Aaron Stamn, tight ends and special teams coach at Kansas under Turner Gill, speaking after a game, offering a free T-shirt to anyone who could beat Heeney down the field on a coverage team when he was a freshman restricted to special teams.
“It never happened,” said Heeney, a three-year starter for Kansas. “No one ever beat me down on kickoff the whole year.”
That’s because he’s really fast. That’s listed as one of his strengths on the endless thumbnail sketches of NFL draft prospects from various media outlets. Heeney reads as many as he can get his hands on and disputes some of the listed weaknesses.
“There are people who really like me and there are people who think I’m just a terrible player,” Heeney said. “The one that I think is the least accurate is that I’m undersized to play in the NFL.”
He shared an anecdote from his visit to the Buccaneers complex to demonstrate that he’s not the only one who views it that way.
“When I went down to Tampa Bay and I visited with Lovie Smith, who is the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the first thing he asked me when I walked in his office was, ‘Now ,do you think you need to gain or lose weight?’ I said, ‘I think I’m good where I’m at. I don’t need to gain or lose.’ He said that’s a perfect answer,” Heeney said. “They think that anything from 225 to 230 is perfect for their system.”
Heeney cited and disputed one more criticism he has read.
“Another one I think is a bogus stat is that I’m the leader in missed tackles in college football,” Heeney said. “I mean, they don’t have Joe Johnson going through every single game of every single team of every single player counting every single player’s missed tackles. So I think it’s a BS stat to me.”
“That’s a good question. I think someone just stated it one time and it caught on like wildfire,” he said. “It’s not even a stat that’s kepty by anyone. The Big 12 doesn’t keep that as a stat. The NCAA doesn’t keep that as a stat. There is no way to determine what a missed tackle is.”
Heeney shared his view of what a missed tackle is not.
“There were numerous times on the field where there was no way I was going to be even close to getting a tackle and I would just lay out and dive and kind of sweep at someobdy’s feet and try to grab them by their shoestrings and don’t even touch them,” he said. “I would just lay out and sacrifice my body. Does that count as a missed tackle?”
Heeney said he has “no idea,” what team or at what stage in the draft he would be selected. He guessed he would hear his name somewhere in the “third to fifth or sixth range.”
The first round of the NFL draft, carried by ESPN and the NFL Network, starts at 7 p.m. today. Rounds 2 and 3 are at 6 p.m. Friday. Rounds 4 through 7 start Saturday at 11 a.m.
Heeney will watch coverage at his parents Overland Park home with friends and family.
“Hopefully, I can get drafted so it’s not a waste of a party,” he said.
It would be a shocker if seven rounds passed without Heeney’s name being called, but getting drafted is just a step toward an NFL career and guarantees nothing.
“There’s a lot of money to be made in the sport of football,” Heeney said. “Hopefully, I can get a little slice of the cake.”
Staying healthy and making a team’s roster would be the next steps to earning a living playing football, so Heeney hasn’t shopped for luxury automobiles and bling just yet.
“I’m going to try to invest my money, man, just keep stacking it and hopefully in a couple of years I’ll be a lot more wealthy than I am right now,” Heeney said. “Only time will tell. Who knows?”
At this point, nobody knows. The NFL draft is cloaked in secrecy, one of many qualities that make it so compelling.
Looking back on new KU women’s basketball coach Brandon Schneider addressing fans in wake of winning national title at Emporia State
Kansas has decided that Brandon Schneider is the coach needed to pump life into a joyless women's basketball program that had trouble generating fan interest, particularly among students.
Schneider left the Emporia State women's program after winning the Div. II national championship in 2010, his 12th season at the school. He comes to Kansas from Stephen F. Austin, where his Ladyjacks won a share of the Southland Conference title in 2014 and won it outright last month in his fifth and final season at the school in Nacogdoches, Texas.
It will be interesting to see how far Schneider has come as a public speaker in the past five years. You can do so by taking a look at the video below of Schneider addressing Emporia State fans in the wake of the school's first national championship in any sport and then watching his 10 a.m. press conference by clicking on our All Eyes on KU blog.
Four consecutive Final Fours. Three national-title games in four seasons. A coach can't accomplish those feats without having the ability to recruit, develop and make the right moves in close ballgames against strong competition.
John Ontjes has accomplished those feats as head coach of the Hutchinson County Community College women's basketball program. He starred as a player for two years at Hutch before starting at point guard for Billy Tubbs for a year and Kelvin Sampson for a year at Oklahoma. He averaged 10.5 points and 6.6 assists during his Sooners career. He was better than solid as a player and is a way better coach than player.
His team, noted for tenacious defense, held 14 of its final 15 opponents to fewer than 60 points. The Blue Dragons took a 36-0 record into the national title game March 21, a 54-46 loss to Chipola.
Brad Hallier of the Hutchinson news recently wrote a column endorsing Ontjes for the KU job and expressing the opinion that the coach is too good for any level but high Div. I. In it, Hallier cited an amazing statistic in the column: The Blue Dragons have built a home-court winning streak of 117 games for their ultra-competitive coach.
Six of the 13 players on this season's Hutch roster played high school ball in Kansas.
Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger has not shared the names of his 15 finalists on a list that started with 60 names, but he did say he has explored coaches from all levels, including junior college. Given that, it's difficult to imagine Ontjes at the very least was not on the original list and very well could be among the final 15.
As Angel Goodrich demonstrated when she took Kansas to back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, nothing is more important than a terrific point guard.
Notre Dame assistant coach Niele Ivey (first name pronounced by saying the word “knee” and the letter “L”) was one herself and during her eight seasons as an assistint has mentored others.
A native of St. Louis who graduated from ND in 2000 with a history degree, Ivey also has been Notre Dame’s recruiting coordinator since 2012. The Fighting Irish, who rank second nationally in field-goal percentage (49.8) and fifth in scoring (80.9), face South Carolina in a 5:30 CT semifinal in a game televised on ESPN. This is Notre Dame's fifth consecutive Final Four.
Ivey has received praise for her work with ND point guard Lindsay Allen and with Skylar Diggins before that. She also has had a hand in the Irish ranking in the top five nationally in each of the past three recruiting classes.
After her All-American career at Notre Dame, Ivey spent five seasons playing in the WNBA.
“Niele is really a rising star, a rock star if you will, in the coaching profession,” Notre Dame head coach Muff McGraw said in the Niele bio on the school’s website. “... She’s got to be known as one of the best recruiters in the country and certainly with our point guards, she does just a phenomenal job.”
Ivey made the 2001 Final Four all-tournament team by averaging 16.5 points and 5.5 assists in leading Notre Dame to its first national title.
Ivey keeps the public up to date on Notre Dame basketball and on her son Jaden’s budding hoops career with the Twitter handle @IrishCoachIvey.