Entries from blogs tagged with “Tale of the Tait”
2:50 p.m. Update:
Scratch that... ESPN's Joe Schad just Tweeted that Florida's Bernie Machen released a statement that said no action was taken on A&M and that the SEC was content with its present alignment.
Machen also said SEC leaders "discussed criteria and process associated with expansion."
Would've been foolish for them not to.
This is not good news for A&M, who could be left crawling back to the Big 12 after all this is done.
The good news there is, I think the Big 12 would welcome them back and still could look to expand to further strengthen the league.
Of course, there's still a long way to go and, as you probably know, things can change in an instant.
Here's the complete statement:
“The SEC Presidents and Chancellors met today and reaffirmed our satisfaction with the present 12 institutional alignment. We recognize, however, that future conditions may make it advantageous to expand the number of institutions in the league. We discussed criteria and process associated with expansion. No action was taken with respect to any institution including Texas A&M.”
— Statement from Dr. Bernie Machen, Chair, Southeastern Conference Presidents and Chancellors:
2:47 p.m. Update:
Still no word from SEC country about what transpired at today's meeting... Reports are indicating that there was no vote, however, sources have said that most reports are merely guesses at this point in time.
The only news from Big 12 country is that Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt will address the media sometime after 3 p.m. Probably won't mean much to Kansas folks and will havee a lot to do with the ties between the Texas schools. But, expect Hocutt to say what we've heard everyone else saying regarding the Big 12: Nine members not named Texas A&M are committed to the conference and believe that the league will not only survive but could thrive.
Some reports out of Houston indicate that the Cougars would have the OK to play home football games at Reliant Stadium (home of NFL's Texans) and basketball games at Toyota Center (Houston Rockets' home) should they join the Big 12.
Again, any talk of teams joining the league or even talking about it are a lot premature right now. Of course, lists will be made and posturing will occur, but the Big 12 is focused much more on getting to the end of the tunnel first... They worry about who to add — if anybody — at a later time.
If it comes to that, the top choices remain BYU, Houston or Notre Dame.
12:55 p.m. Update:
It seemed pretty inevitable, after yesterday's wild and crazy action, that today would be a little more quiet regarding Texas A&M's desired move to the SEC.
Athletic directors, school presidents and chancellors and even a few coaches came out and said what they had to say on Saturday, some the day before that. So now we wait.
One piece that's worth following is today's meeting of SEC officials — scheduled for earlier this morning — in which the league was going to discuss whether it would, or should, officially invite A&M into the league. It takes a yea vote from nine of the conference's members to make that happen and sources have indicated that while that once seemed like an easy number to get it may not be any longer.
So we'll keep an eye on that and spend the rest of the day recharging our battery for what promises to be a wild Monday. A&M's board of regents is scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. Monday and, of course, with it no longer being a weekend, Texas lawmakers may have something to say throughout the day, as well.
For now, here's a recap of a couple of late-night moves that some of you may have missed.
The Big 12, via its web site, released an official statement on the matter. Below is that statement in its entirety:
The Big 12 Conference Board of Directors conducted a teleconference meeting today to discuss the future of the Conference given recent developments regarding Texas A&M University.
The Board strongly conveyed to Texas A&M its unanimous desire that it remain a Big 12 member, and acknowledged its value to the Conference. The Board noted that Texas A&M expressed concerns about institutional networks and that the athletics directors worked together and took actions, which the Board has approved, to adequately address those concerns.
The other nine members reaffirmed their long term, unconditional and unequivocal commitments made to each other and the Conference last summer. Although the Board hopes Texas A&M remains in the Conference, the Board is prepared to aggressively move forward to explore expansion opportunities. In doing so, the Board recognizes the strength of the Big 12 Conference national brand and the opportunity to capitalize on it.
A little while after that statement was released, KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little released one of her own regarding KU's position in all of this. That statement read:
“The University of Kansas is committed to the Big 12 Conference and its success. We fully support the efforts of the conference to remain strong and competitive, including the active pursuit of additional membership in the event of a departure."
“Sheahon Zenger and I have been in regular contact with conference board members, the commissioner and others to ensure KU’s interests are protected. We are going to do what is in the best interests of the university, our student-athletes and fans, and maintaining a vibrant Big 12 is in KU’s best interests.”
Nothing earth-shattering there, but good to hear nonetheless. For what it's worth, based on the information that I've been able to gather, I think this stance is right on the money. The Big 12 is the best place for Kansas and staying loyal and working to ensure the strength and stability of the conference is KU's best move.
Stay tuned for more... but bear with me if I head out to mow the lawn or grab a bite to eat.
6:13 p.m. Update:
The conference call between Big 12 ADs and commissioner Dan Beebe ended around 4:30 p.m. today and the prevailing thought that came from it was this: Texas A&M wants to leave, the rest of the league would like them to stay and the Texas legislature will still get a say in the whole deal.
Beyond that, there's still an outside chance that the SEC might not actually invite the Aggies.
Shortly after the ADs had their conference call, league presidents and chancellors met on one of their own, the results of which have not yet been released.
Sources told the Journal-World that the theme of both calls was to make sure that everyone involved and saddled with the responsibility of moving on without A&M, should they leave, was on the same page.
It appears that is the case. Multiple sources with knowledge of the call said the conference call between the ADs had a positive tone and was more about solving the problem together than picking each other apart.
We expect KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little to release some kind of a statement on regarding the situation sometime Sunday, most likely a statement of solidarity between the nine remaining Big 12 schools.
4:54 p.m. Update:
Then there's this from Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman, which sites OU sources who say that if Missouri were to leave then OU would explore a move to the Pac-12, possibly taking Oklahoma State and Kansas with them.
This is in line with everything I've ever heard regarding OU football coach Bob Stoops' strong desire to stay away from the SEC, but I'm not sure where the link between KU and the Oklahoma schools comes from. KU could certainly do worse.
Earlier this week, a couple of different sources told me that they had a strong belief that both Oklahoma and Texas were in favor of sticking with Kansas, realizing the value KU's hoops program and great tradition brings to the table.
Talk is cheap, but you'd certainly rather hear that OU and UT are talking like that than the alternative.
4:32 p.m. Update:
Good summary of Mizzou's stance here from Vahe Gregorian of the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Nothing new, as in new from the end of the conference call or anything, but a good summary of how the Tigers are approaching this thing.
4:15 p.m. Update:
Reaction from other schools now starting to surface, too. Brett McMurphy of CBSsports.com just Tweeted that you can eliminate two schools from the list of possible Big 12 replacements. Louisville and BYU ADs on record saying they're happy where they're at.
Of course they are. Things can change quickly, though. There's just no reason for them to say they'd be interested in the Big 12 when that's not even officially an option yet.
It's newsy, but nothing real substantial...
3:59 p.m. Update:
The Big 12 conference call is still ongoing but a few things from the rest of the country continue to surface...
For starters, we're now up to Mizzou, Florida State and Clemson — the other three linked to the SEC with A&M — all adamantly denying that they've even had talks with the SEC.
If you've been around long enough, you'll know that a denial isn't worth the price of the tape recorder it's uttered into. But... it's still something.
That's where we're at for now. Stay tuned...
2:55 p.m. Update:
Phones are charged up (let's hope) and this conference call between the Big 12's ADs and commissioner Dan Beebe is about to get started. From what I'm hearing, everyone is in a great frame of mind for this call and they're not heading into it with a lot of fear, more the idea of trying to come up with a sound solution.
My guess is we'll learn three things at some point later today:
All nine members of the league are and remain committed to keeping the Big 12 strong. Whether that's 100 percent true or not is up for debate, but that's what they'll say. Missouri is still worth keeping a close eye on.
A&M is out. I know school officials are already saying it and I know the Big 12 is bracing for it, but I think some others might start saying it soon after this call.
The Big 12 learned a lot from being poached last time and will not stand for it this time. I know that's a stretch for some of you to believe, but I think that's the case. These are not weak schools. Beebe is not a weak man. This conference is not a weak conference. There are plenty of reasons for this conference to survive and plenty of reasons that other good schools would jump at the chance to join. I think getting everyone together and reminding them of that during this conference call will deliver a group more unified than ever. I know hearing that is getting old, but sometimes this kind of thing is what it takes to get some real unity.
1:04 p.m. Update:
This just came in from the Austin American-Statesman.
A blog that covers the Texas legislature quotes one key Texas lawmaker as saying that A&M making a move or voting to leave for the SEC before allowing the legislature a chance to weigh in would be "highly inappropriate."
That may be true, but at this point, I'm wondering if A&M cares. They're already facing stiff exit penalties and the idea of looking like fools if they back out now... How much worse can it really get? If you've made this kind of a mess, you might as well follow through.
I know that's easier said than done and real easy for a blogger in Kansas to say, but, still, I'm not convinced that the folks at A&M are that concerned about Texas law. In fact, I think they're kind of digging the fact that they feel like the are Texas law.
12:45 p.m. Update:
Not a lot of new information out there at this time, as it appears everyone is preparing to head into this conference call in a couple of hours.
I've been on the phones for the last 20-30 minutes and the only thing I've been able to gather from a couple of good places is that the folks at Mizzou are adamant that they have not spoken to anyone from the SEC.
There is one new development that may be of interest. Dennis Dodd of CBSsports.com Tweeted that SoonerScoop has reported that UT has hired a lobbyist to keep Texas A&M from leaving.
This is not the direction I wanted this thing to go... The less government is involved the better, in my opinion.
A little more than two weeks ago, a solid source in Dallas told me at in the beginning of all of A&M's grumblings that the league would survive with nine teams. I'm paraphrasing, but it was something along the lines of "If they want to leave, that's fine."
This latest move at least indicates that Texas might not feel that same way.
11:56 a.m. Update:
Reports are now saying that Texas A&M officials have said that the Aggies do intend to join the SEC and could begin play in their new conference as soon as 2012.
This latest report points out that there's still a 30-40 percent chance that the Aggies would not receive enough votes from current SEC schools to receive an official invitation.
However, if we're this far along in this mess and this much has been made public, you can bet the Aggies are darn certain that they have an invitation on the table.
One source told the Journal-World on Friday night that after talks broke down between A&M and the SEC last summer, the SEC left a standing offer on the table.
A&M's board of regents have scheduled a meeting for 3 p.m. Monday. That's when they could vote to leave and an announcement could follow.
11:14 a.m. Update:
Here's this update from the New York Times about a secret meeting between 11 of the 12 SEC presidents set for Sunday.
Now we're getting into some "Deep Throat" stuff... The saga continues.
A couple of the best quotes from the story, from a high-ranking SEC official, shed some light on how serious talks between A&M and the SEC have been. Here's a look:
“They have a contract now,” the SEC official said. “We’re very sensitive about being part of breaking a contract. What we asked them to do was to go settle their issues and not have us be on the table as the agent of causing them to leave.”
“We realize if we do this, we have to have the 14th,” the SEC official said. “No name has been thrown out. This thing is much slower out of the shoot than the media and blogs have made it.”
10:52 a.m. Update:
The Journal-World and KUsports.com have confirmed that the Big 12's athletic directors will host a conference call with league commissioner Dan Beebe at 3 p.m. today. Missouri's Mike Alden is expected to participate, as the 10 men will discuss A&M's possible departure from the conference as well as the speculation about Missouri wanting to join them, which Alden says is not true.
The key players appear to be committed to keeping the league together and, perhaps, making it stronger. Whether they'll be able to do that remains to be seen.
10:30 a.m. Update:
Curious what Missouri is saying about all of this? Vahe Gregorian of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reached Mizzou AD Mike Alden, who adamantly denied the report and said that the Tigers remained committed to the Big 12 along with the other eight remaining schools.
That's more in line with what KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger told the Journal-World on Friday, but it's hardly a guarantee.
Missouri "remained committed" to the Big 12 last summer, too, even though it was desperately courting the Big Ten on the other line.
For now, Alden has to be taken at his word, but that word should be taken with a grain of salt. As you've seen, things can change fast in this mess.
10:11 a.m. Update:
Though it's a little outdated — already — this report from the Austin American-Statesman talks more about A&M's progress on moving to the SEC and also sheds some light on what the Big 12 might do should the Aggies officially leave.
Texas AD DeLoss Dodds mentions, halfway through the story, that he's always liked the number 10, which would mean the Big 12, should Missouri head to the SEC with A&M, would need to add two more schools to get to 10. Dodds also says he could see the league going to 12 if that's what it took to survive.
The three schools mentioned as possible replacements in the article are: Notre Dame, BYU and Air Force. The thinking here is that Notre Dame is going to have to join a conference someday and they may as well do it with one that's a little desperate in order to maximize their bargaining rights.
As for BYU and Air Force, stepping into the Big 12 — so long as OU and Texas remain — would be a major step forward for both programs.
As for that fourth team, that hasn't yet surfaced. Though sources have told me that Houston could be offered and would accept in a heartbeat. That move makes sense because getting Houston would help the Big 12 keep the Houston market, which A&M currently delivers.
I know Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has talked a lot about being jealous of those conferences that had a true round robin and how excited he was to finally have that, but if it comes down to survival or staying round robin, Beebe has to pick survival and, therefore, could have to go with 12.
As for Missouri, this isn't bad news for Kansas. Although the end of that rivalry would be a bitter pill to swallow, getting rid of Mizzou would not be all bad. The Tigers have wanted out for too long and they've gotten to the point where Kansas — and the rest of the Big 12 — simply cannot trust them to remain loyal.
If it's me, I'm heading to Columbia to help them pack.
Original Post, 9:23 a.m.
Former Oklahoma State basketball player Doug Gottlieb is known for his hoops knowledge. As a member of ESPN’s college basketball staff and host of his own radio talk show, Gottlieb typically focuses on hoops.
Today, however, the former Cowboy spread some serious news, via Twitter, about conference realignment.
In a Tweet this morning, Gottlieb communicated that a high-ranking source at Texas A&M had confirmed to him that A&M was headed to the SEC. The kicker? The Tweet also said that Clemson, Florida State and Missouri were also “likely to join.”
The early-morning drama picks up exactly where we left off on Friday and even takes it a step further. With A&M heading south assumed to be a done deal by most, rumors ran wild about the SEC looking to add a 14th team. Florida State and Missouri, along with a handful of other schools with the right geographic coordinates, were tossed into the hat, but nothing was even close to official there.
Calling anything official still remains a little ways off, but this thing is definitely picking up steam by the hour. I can’t speak for Clemson or Florida State — though through some quick thinking both leaving their conference seems to make sense — but hearing that Missouri is involved does not surprise me for a second. The Tigers have been desperate to go to any major conference that would take them ever since the Big Ten said no last summer. Don’t be surprised if that goes down.
If it does, the Big 12 would have a decision to make. I still think that as long as OU and Texas remain strong, the league would survive by adding two — perhaps four — new teams. Especially because, after Mizzou, the rest of the league’s schools truly do seem committed to one another.
Stay tuned for more.
4:45 p.m. Update:
Texas A&M's board of regents has moved its meeting up from Aug. 22 to Aug. 15. That's Monday folks, one day BEFORE the Texas legislature is scheduled to meet.
Gotta think that only means that A&M officials are trying to ram this thing through... Ought to be interesting to see where it goes from here.
Stay tuned... Closely.
The dominoes might not have fallen yet, but they’re lined up all nice and pretty.
All it will take to send them tumbling is a light breeze of the flick of a finger. That finger could come from Texas A&M, who, according to multiple reports, is seriously entertaining the idea of leaving the Big 12 to join the SEC.
Should that happen, there’s no telling what the rest of the country would do. Although nothing’s even close to official yet, universities everywhere are getting things in order to make sure they’re prepared for any number of scenarios that could unfold.
That includes Kansas University, which, under the leadership of new athletic director Sheahon Zenger, has done everything possible to stay on top and in front of a situation that changes quickly.
While most schools are simply laying low and getting things in order behind the scenes, some have been a little more open about their goings on. And then, of course, you’ve got those trying to play the middle. Make it look like you’re happy where you are while talking feverishly to others on the other line.
That’s where our first couple of links come in.
The first is an audio clip from the Dan Patrick Show, which had Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples on this morning to talk about all things college athletics. The A&M to the SEC talk gets going around the 3:00 mark, with talk about the SEC adding a 14th team coming around 4:30. That’s where it gets real interesting, as the name Missouri comes around the 4:45 mark.
We all know that Missouri has been in love with the Big Ten for years now. But after being denied entry last year, when the Big Ten added Nebraska, it looks as if Mizzou may have turned its focus toward the SEC. Take a listen.
The next stop comes from the south, where this report from Fox Sports indicates that Florida State may be examining a jump to the SEC to become the conference’s 14th team, assuming A&M actually goes.
Speaking of that, Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle writes that A&M has to leave the Big 12 this time or risk getting egg on its face.
I tend to agree. And I know the Big 12 won’t cry over losing the Aggies as long as Oklahoma and Texas remain committed to their current conference, which it appears — at least for now — that both are. And why not? Texas is king in the Big 12 and gets to do whatever it wants. OU, while not nearly as powerful in the overall scheme of things, is in a great situation for its mighty football program. Why would Bob Stoops ever want to take his show to the SEC or anywhere else, for that matter? The answer? He won’t.
There’s still a ways to go in this mess and, although it has the feel of what went down last summer, the guess here is that this thing will be resolved much more quickly and won’t drag on for weeks and weeks.
We should know more as soon as next week. The USA Today has this report about the Texas legislature’s special meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
A lot can happen between now and then, and, as we’ve seen before, emotions can turn things ugly in a hurry. For now, though, it looks as if the remaining nine Big 12 schools are keeping their cool and simply waiting for A&M to make its move. All the while, I’m pretty certain that there is some communication with other schools and conferences going on behind the scenes in case it becomes necessary for the Big 12 to invite a school or three into the fold to replace A&M or maybe even Missouri.
Houston? Notre Dame? Arkansas? BYU? TCU? All are possibilities.
Stay tuned for more...
What began with Texas A&M playing the role of the angry youngster who wanted to take his ball and go home appears to have moved into a stage that will change the look of the Big 12 Conference for the second time in 14 months.
You thought it was weird to have a league with 10 teams go by the moniker, “Big 12?” Try staring at one with nine.
The Rivals.com site AggieYell.com reported Thursday evening that A&M had decided to leave the Big 12 and that the SEC had extended an official invitation. According to reports, the key date is Aug. 22. That’s when A&M’s board of regents are expected to meet and possibly vote to join the SEC as soon as 2012.
When the rumors about A&M’s courtship with the SEC first popped up, they appeared to be nothing more than grumblings from a university that was upset with its older brother. The Texas Longhorns always got everything they wanted, and life, A&M seemed to think, was just not fair.
However, in the past couple of days, some key people have given legs to the speculation, including Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds and Texas governor Rick Perry, an A&M graduate living in Austin, who, on Saturday, is expected to announce his candidacy for president of the United States.
To call this whole thing odd would be an understatement. To call it a done deal would be a little off base. However, there is real talk going on between A&M and the SEC and the Aggies’ move south could become official or blow up entirely at any minute.
Sources have told the Journal-World that the Big 12 could, and likely would, survive if it lost A&M.
Texas, and to a smaller extent Oklahoma, continue to be the key pieces here. If they were to leave the Big 12 along with A&M, we could be in for a repeat of last summer’s scramble regarding conference realignment.
Officials at neither OU nor Texas have hinted that they’re unhappy with the current set-up, so, at this point, it looks as if A&M may be walking this walk by itself.
Reports from around the Big 12 have suggested that the other nine schools have been busy getting their ducks in a row should it become time to act. But the belief here is that the rest of the league is at least happy enough with the current set-up and would be content to explore adding a 10th school — instead of disbanding — should A&M bolt for the SEC.
Schools that could be considered include and are not limited to: Arkansas, Houston, Notre Dame, TCU and others.
Of course, with Missouri continuing to flirt with the Big Ten and Texas always able to do whatever the heck it wants, Big 12 ground remains unstable at best. A scenario that sends Kansas to the Big East or Pac-16 still could happen.
Things are beginning to look worse than they did a year ago as conference and school officials have had several months to contemplate what their futures might look like and how they may want to shape them.
It’s a very different landscape than it was in June of 2010, and the reality is it’s a drastically different picture than the one Beebe painted when he stood up at Big 12 media days in Dallas last month and boasted about how strong the Big 12’s bond was.
There’s still a long way to go in all of this and it’s a safe guess that a resolution — one way or the other — will come quickly.
Things may appear worse for the Big 12 as a whole this time around, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be worse for Kansas.
Here's a look at what's being written around Big 12 country and nationally.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says it will happen and also examines OU’s role in this.
ESPN.com’s SEC blogger says it’s only a matter of time before SEC expands.
Houston Chronicle says Texas A&M has one foot out the door.
The Austin American-Statesman reports that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe is taking things very seriously.
Wednesday night was a big night for Kansas University football players on Twitter. But not for the reasons you might think.
Instead of rejoicing over reporting to camp or sharing their excitement about the first official day of fall practices — today — the Jayhawks took to the Twitterverse to announce that they were signing off.
As in done. Finished. No mas.
Yep, Wednesday at the first official team meeting of 2011, KU coach Turner Gill informed his team that they would no longer be allowed to use Twitter during the season.
On some levels, this makes sense. Gill and the Jayhawks are trying to focus in on rebuilding the program and regaining some respect. A tall task such as that takes complete concentration and total commitment — when you’re at practice. What the players do from their dorm rooms after practice or on their days off should not be regulated so heavily.
My issue here isn’t with the Twitter ban itself. I get it. I don’t agree with it completely, but I get it and so do dozens — if not hundreds — of other coaches out there.
My issue is that the Jayhawks being on Twitter didn’t actually hurt anything or anybody. In fact, I’d argue that it did the opposite. This is a program in dire need of a little love right now and following Daymond Patterson, AJ Steward, Toben Opurum, Tyler Patmon, Lubbock Smith, DJ Beshears or whoever else on the KU football team sounded interesting gave us that. Fans were able to interact with players. The players themselves were allowed to be real. And, for 140 characters at a time a few times a day, people got to see a side of these athletes they don’t often see, something more than polished press conference speak or faces hidden behind helmets.
In the long run, this whole thing will probably blow over pretty quickly. It’s Gill’s team and it’s Gill’s rules. What he says goes.
And to the players' credit, those who officially announced they were officially signing off for a while did so in a classy manner.
For my money, though, I think laying down some rules and allowing his players to continue enjoying Twitter would’ve been the right move here. Tell them not to use profanity, not to release information about the team and not to conduct themselves in a manner that might embarass the program. Everything else is fair game. If Patterson wants to tell us that he just hit up Taco Bell, great. If Patmon wants to let people know that he’s more driven than he’s ever been in his life, great. If Steward wants people to know he’s happy about the St. Louis Cardinals’ latest victory, even better.
Cutting it out altogether just seems too controlling and misguided. Gill talks often about his desire to help shape and teach young men 18-22 years old. He had a chance to do just that here. Twitter is a real part of the everyday world — especially for people in college — and it appears as if it’s here to stay. So embrace it. Use it as a teaching moment. Don’t just pretend it doesn’t exist.
At last glance, the section on the Big 12 web site where it lists which players will be representing their respective teams at this month’s Big 12 football media days in Dallas — July 25 & 26 — had the following entry for Kansas University: “Coach Turner Gill, Players TBA.”
With that in mind, I figured we might as well bang out a blog weighing the options for the Jayhawks.
This whole concept is something I started thinking about upon the conclusion of last year’s Big 12 media days in Dallas. That one ran for three days because there were 12 teams instead of the 10 we’ll see this year.
Who the teams send to Dallas is not hugely important in the grand scheme of the season, but there is an element of prestige involved with being selected.
Last year, Gill was joined by seniors Jake Laptad, Chris Harris and Brad Thorson, and all three said it was an honor to be chosen to represent the team. I’m guessing that’s the way most players from most teams feel, even if some made it clear that they weren’t thrilled to be there.
Here’s what we know about the quote/unquote requirements to represent the Jayhawks at this event:
• Last year, Gill sent all seniors.
• Typically, the players selected not only have been among the team’s top performers on the field but also its most respected off it.
• Any position will do. Most teams send their stars — save for former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach leaving both QB Graham Harrell and WR Michael Crabtree home a few years back — but more than a few offensive linemen and lesser-known defensive players have made the trek.
With all of that in mind, here’s my guess — in order of most likely to least likely — as to which players the Jayhawks will send south for the summer later this month.
1. Daymond Patterson, Sr. WR — Not only is Patterson a senior and one of the best talkers on the team, he’s also a playmaker. He enters 2011 as the team’s top returning receiver, he’s on a couple of national watch lists and he delivered, without question, two of KU’s top offensive plays in 2010, the first being his pinball touchdown catch and run against Georgia Tech and the second being his one-handed grab against Colorado that too often goes unmentioned when people talk about that remarkable comeback. As if those weren’t reasons enough, here are a couple more. One: Patterson’s one of the team’s hardest workers and most colorful personalities. In addition, he’s a native Texan. I’d call him a lock to be in Dallas later this month.
2. Tim Biere, Sr. TE — Though he’s one of the more quiet guys on the team, Biere has been a favorite of coach Gill’s since he arrived here. During the past two years, it seems that every time a reporter asked Gill to name a player who looked good or stood out at practice, Biere’s name was in the mix. Coaches like to reward players like Biere, guys who show up each day to work hard and don’t draw any unnecessary attention to the program. Again, Biere’s a senior so that only helps his cause. Beyond that, he’s a great ambassador for the program, who is happy to sit there for hours and talk about what KU means to him or why the Jayhawks are on the rise.
3. Toben Opurum, Jr. DE — This one’s a little bit of a stretch, but I think it might happen. Here’s why: Ever since Gill moved him from offense to defense — first linebacker and then defensive end — Opurum has made his coach look good. Instead of being bitter and angry after the move to LB, Opurum was open-minded and willing to embrace the change. Instead of being furious, threatening to transfer and bad-mouthing his coaches after the move to D-End, Opurum went to work, improved on a daily basis and turned out to be a pretty solid defensive end. For that and that alone, Opurum deserves a few pats on the back from the coaching staff and this would be a great place to give it to him. Like Patterson, Opurum’s a native of the Dallas area — Plano, Tex. — and, also like Patterson, he’s a fantastic talker who comes across as the exact image of the kind of student-athlete Gill wants at Kansas. The only thing that makes this a stretch is the fact that Opurum’s still just a junior. But I think he’s earned the right to be there, and, what’s more, Gill thinks he’s on the brink of becoming one of the best defensive players in the Big 12. Why not showcase him?
4. Steven Johnson, Sr. LB — About 300 days ago, I had Johnson on my list of guys destined to go to Dallas. It’s not that he’s done anything to hurt his chances, I’m just not sure if there aren’t guys on this team who might provide a better mix of personality and on-field potential. Johnson’s a great talker, a reporter’s dream, the kind of guy who will tell you exactly how he’s feeling and what’s on his mind. That’s fantastic for us 100 percent of the time. It’s only fantastic for the coaches about 85 percent of the time. I don’t think that’s what will keep him from Dallas, though. I just think he’s the odd man out here.
5. Jordan Webb, Soph. QB — An extreme longshot but one I’d like to see. What better way to give Webb a shot of confidence than by rewarding him with this kind of trip and making him the face of your program? At least for now. As crazy as it might sound, I think that could go a long way toward making Webb a better quarterback and the KU offense a more productive unit. Here’s why it won’t happen: All signs point to the fact that Webb will be the starting quarterback when the Jayhawks take on McNeese State on Sept. 3. However, if that’s true, the last thing the coaching staff wants to do is announce it. They want the quarterback battle to remain competitive. They want Quinn Mecham, Michael Cummings and, eventually, Brock Berglund to show up to practice and conditioning each day believing they still have a chance to start. Thinking they do will make them push themselves harder. Each man pushing himself to the limit only helps Webb push himself, too. In addition to the coaching staff wanting to play it close to the vest with the QB race, Webb’s only a sophomore and doesn’t have quite the personality of the four guys listed above him.
Others who could be considered but probably won’t attend: James Sims, Soph. RB; Jeremiah Hatch, Sr. OL; Tanner Hawkinson, Jr. OL; Kale Pick, Jr. WR; Darius Willis, Soph. LB.
With the last pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings select the University of Washington's Isaiah Thomas.
That's a wrap. Be sure to head on over to our draft recap story. Thanks for joining in on the conversation.
We are winding down, with a plethora of foreign players hearing their names called. There are still some fans at the draft going strong as well.
50th: Lavoy Allen, Philadelphia 76ers
51st: Jon Diebler, Portland Trailblazers
52nd: Vernon Macklin, Detroit Pistons
53rd: DeAndre Liggins, Orlando Magic
54th: Milan Macvan, Cleveland Cavaliers
55th: E'Twaun Moore, Boston Celtics
56th: Chukwudiebere Maduabum, Los Angeles Lakers
57th: Targuy Ngombo, Dallas Mavericks
58th: Ater Majok, Los Angeles Lakers
59th: Adam Hanga, San Antonio Spurs
There it is. The Memphis Grizzlies have selected Josh Selby with the 49th overall pick. No doubt much lower than he thought he would go.
47th: Travis Leslie, Los Angeles Clippers
48th: Keith Bensont, Atlanta Hawks
The Hornets took Josh Harrellson at number 45 just so the NBA's deputy commissioner would say the name "Josh" and keep all of us on our toes, right?
With the 46th pick, the Lakers take Andrew Goudelock, a guard from the College of Charleston.
It seems tonight is not Keegan's night to prove himself as an NBA Draft soothsayer. Pick Number 42 rolls on by, with the Pacers taking Davis Bertans out of Slovenia, as do picks 43 (Malcolm Lee, Chicago Bulls) and 44 (Charles Jenkins, Golden State Warriors).
The New Jersey Nets are on the clock with pick number 42. That's where Tom Keegan predicted Selby would go.
34th: Shelvin Mack, Washington Wizards
35th: Tyler Honeycutt, Sacramento Kings
36th: Jordan Williams, New Jersey Nets
37th: Trey Thompkins, Los Angeles Clippers
38th: Chandler Parsons, Houston Rockets
39th: Jeremy Tyler, Charlotte Bobcats
40th: Jon Leuer, Milwaukee Bucks
41st: Darius Morris, Los Angeles
42nd: Jordan Hamilton, Dallas Mavericks
Four out of the last eight guys' names have started with the letter "J." Is that throwing anybody else off, waiting to hear "Josh Selby?"
The Cavs take Justin Harper, from Richmond, at number 32. Duke's Kyle Singler goes to the Detroit Pistons at 33.
Good luck pronouncing the first pick of the second round, Bojan Bogdanovic, taken by the Miami Heat, who have traded the pick to Minnesota. The Cavs are on the clock again.
Well, that's the end of the first round and Josh Selby is still on the board. Thoughts? Surprised?
Meanwhile, here is an adorable photo of the Morris twins hugging:
As for how the rest of the first round worked out:
21st: Nolan Smith, Portland Trailblazers
22nd: Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets
23rd: Nikola Mirotic, Houston Rockets
24th: Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City Thunder
25th: MarShon Brooks, Marshon Brooks
26th: Jordan Hamilton, Dallas Mavericks
27th: JaJuan Johnson, New Jersey Nets
28th: Norris Cole, Chicago Bulls
29th: Cory Joseph, San Antonio Spurt
30th: Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
The Morris twins are addressing the media in the back room.
Here is Markieff's selection, and the twins sharing a hug backstage:
Here's what's going down on stage:
18th: Chris Singleton, Washington Wizards
19th: Tobias Harris, Charlotte Bobcats
20th: Donatas Motiejunas, Minnesota Timberwolves
Both Morris twins quite emotional after being drafted. We will have video up shortly of David Stern announcing The Suns' selection of Markieff and 'Kieff walking across the stage and to the back room.
Here's how the next three picks after the Morris twins have played out:
15th: Kawhi Leonard, Indiana Pacers
16th: Nikola Vucevic, Philadelphia 76ers
17th: Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks
What a story there. The Morris twins were born minutes apart, then drafted just minutes apart. Marcus Morris is drafted right after his brother with the 14th pick overall, going to the Houston Rockets.
And there is the first KU guy off the board. The Phoenix Suns take Markieff Morris with the 13th overall pick. Anybody surprised 'Kieff went before Marcus? Looks like Marcus is pretty emotional at his table as well, definitely happy for his brother.
Marcus, on the possibility of being drafted by a team other than Phoenix: "It's not the end of the world. Maybe I'll send him some flowers or food or something."
That got some laughs in Jersey.
Alec Burks, of Colorado, the second Big 12 player gone so far, goes to Utah at No. 12.
The twins, coach Manning and coach Self gave him a lot of love when he walked by their table on the way to the handshake with the commish.
Great player. He'll do well in Utah.
Starting to wonder if one of the twins will wind up with the Knicks. I've always hoped for that... How about Marcus to Philly at 16 and Markieff to the Knicks at 17. I'll take it. I'm guessing they would too.
Phoenix is up. This could be Marcus.
Klay Thompson to GSW... What I expected there but the twins are starting to fidget. Gotta be hard to keep waiting. Thing about it is, as soon as you're picked, all that waiting is forgotten. It's coming. Maybe back to back...
Jimmer!!!! No. 10 to Milwaukee... This is about the time last year when Cole & X started to get antsy... Golden State next.
Kemba Walker goes No. 9 to Charlotte. No Marcus. Gotta think they didn't expect him to be there and jumped on him when they could.
Tough break for Marcus, but his time is coming. Kemba's a great player.
Could be any pick now for either twin. Could they be going back-to-back a la Cole and Xavier last year? It'd be pretty cool for my story, but I'll only be able to get video of one of them if that happens.
Calipari about to be interviewed in the Green Room. This is why Self has to be here! He'll get his turn.
Brandon Knight, Kentucky, goes to Detroit. They were looking big man all along so this is kind of surprising, but I'm sure they didn't expect him to be here. Could be there starting PG for a number of years. Not a bad pick.
Gotta think Markieff's heart was pounding right there. Mine was. I had camera in one hand, iPhone in the other, just trying to capture whatever I could.
Another foreign big man, Bismack Biyombo, of Congo, goes to Sacramento at No. 7. They'll trade him to Charlotte, which means Biyombo could be a teammate of Marcus Morris' if the Bobcats take Marcus two picks from now...
Washington goes foreign, too, with Jan Vesely, who gets a big cheer from the crowd for the smooch he got from his girlfriend.
Toronto, a foreign team, takes Jonas Valanciunas of Lithuania.
Lots of Lithuanians in the crowd tonight, the perfect complement for a few Turkish fans that went crazy when Kanter was taken.
If the twins are two or three inches taller, they go before Thompson and this guy. Those are the breaks.
The first big surprise of the draft... Texas' Tristan Thompson goes 4 to Cleveland. This was a guy that had been in the teens most of the way.
He's young, naturally gifted and, the big thing, he's a big-time defensive presence. You can't teach that. He's not yet as tough as he needs to be, but that'll come.
This could wind up being a phenomenal pick. But it definitely was a surprise. Gotta wonder what the twins are thinking about this one.
Toronto's up now. All un-drafted players are holding their breaths and thinking "Please Not me, Please Not me, Please Not me, Please Not me."
Utah takes Enes Kanter... That's pronounced Innis, just in case you were, um, concerned.
It was between him and Kentucky's Brandon Knight all week. He's the anti-Selby. Nobody saw him this year so there's no telling exactly what he's capable of.
Seems like a good fit in Utah. If he stays there.
Cleveland going again now. Maybe another foreigner, definitely a big guy.
Derrick Williams, of Arizona, goes No. 2 to Minnesota. Gotta think that makes the twins feel better about what he did in Vegas this year. That was before he broke out.
Nobody had a better tournament than that guy. That includes Kemba Walker.
He was my No. 1 pick. I think he's gonna be sensational. Great dude, too.
Now the draft begins... Utah at No. 3. Brandon Knight? Enes Kanter? Trade? Wow.
So Kyrie's gone and we're under way.
Can't help but think what's going through Josh Selby's head right at this moment. I mean, you know that as recently as a year ago, he thought he was John Wall and he thought he was better than Kyrie Irving. Last year at this time, you gotta think he was sitting there thinking, 'That'll be me next year," when Wall was picked.
Now.... we wait. Gonna be real interesting to see where he goes.
First pick is in. Kyrie Irving, Duke.
Place goes wild. Irving seems really emotional, as you would be. Not pounding his chest or hamming for the cameras, just hugs, handshakes and a little relief. Almost looks like he can't believe it.
Kid will be a good player but he's not what we're used to seeing from the No. 1 overall pick. I mean, last year it was John Wall. Irving is no John Wall. Nice pick, though. Point guards are so critical.
Cleveland is officially on the clock.
Wild crowd here tonight. Great energy, lots of chatter. King James is still getting it, though, even out here. Every time they mention LeBron or show him on the video board via highlights from the 2011 season, the boos are deafening. Seriously. It's loud. He's not a liked man.
Here we go.
David Stern's on the stage. We're about to get started.
This year's song that's bound to be stuck in your head by the end of the night... It comes from the lovely Haley Reinhart, of American Idol, who finished third in this year's voting.
She was robbed.
Classic coach Self. He just arrived in the nick of time. Naturally, he showed up with a big smile on his face and a little bounce. Big night for any coach to have two guys picked in the first round and three overall.
Great to see him out here this year. I know the twins are pumped he made it.
Those who might have missed it will probably be thrilled to hear who's joining the twins at their Green Room table tonight.
Bill Self is supposed to arrive any minute, but assistant coach Danny Manning, a former No. 1 overall pick in this draft, also made the trip. Manning has received a ton of credit for helping the twins get to this point and it's really cool to see he made the trip.
I spoke to him briefly and he seems to be having a blast. He's relaxed, smiling and mingling with everyone. I'm sure him being here means a lot to the twins and their family, not to mention any future recruits who might catch wind of it.
ESPN's pre-draft coverage is in full swing right now and those pesky Knicks fans who made the trip from Manhatan have been going wild over Jimmer Fredette.
Apparently, that's the guy those fans want. Whether the Knicks' ownership, which has been in a state of flux lately, grants that wish remains to be seen.
I'm guessing Jimmer's gone by the time they pick at 17 so they might not have to worry about it.
Can't say anything but good stuff about Jimmer. He's been awesome to be around all week and really seems like a good dude. Friendly, kind, courteous, humble. I rooted for him before and I'll definitely keep pulling for him from here on out.
First up tonight is Cleveland, which has two picks in the top five.
All summer the pick here has been Duke's Kyrie Irving. I'd be shocked if that's not the name we here first tonight, but that's not necessarily because I agree with it.
Irving's good, real good, but he's smallish and I think Derrick Williams, of Arizona, has pro star written all over him.
There's been some talk that Williams, my No. 1 pick, might fall to 3 or even 5 or 6. I doubt it. Guessing he goes 2 unless Cleveland goes wild and goes with him at No. 1.
The lights just came on and the pre-draft hype is over. It's about time to kick this thing off.
I've got another great seat but I don't have the best view of the twins in the Green Room. Got some good stuff of them before hand, though, including photos of Danny Manning, who made the trip to sit at their table and their mother, Angel.
Markieff's wearing a gray suit with some pink accents. He looks sharp just like he said he would. Marcus, out of the kindness of his soul, decided to go opposite of his brother and went with a navy suit with a thin pinstripe and similar pink accents.
Great energy here in the building tonight, perhaps New Jersey's way of selling its city and franchise to future free agents. No sign of Jay Z or the Russian owner yet.
Madison Square Garden last year was classic, but this is a pretty nice set-up here at the Prudential Center. We're actually in the arena, on the floor, which adds to the feeling that something big is happening here tonight.
The twins are pretty much in the center of the green room, the only table with two customized basketballs on it.
We'll get started with the picks soon enough, for now scroll through some of the videos and photos below and be sure to check out what I've been up to on Twitter all day. @mctait
Gut feeling at go-time: Marcus 9th to Charlotte, Markieff 16th to Phily, Selby early 2nd Rd.
More to come...
Just arrived at the Westin Times Square and, once again, there's a significantly bigger buzz around the lobby today.
Players are strolling through on their way up to their rooms to get suited up — this time in fine suits instead of shorts and tank tops — and the 65th annual NBA Draft is creeping closer each minute.
No sign of the Morris twins yet, though their mother, Angel, did just walk through the lobby. Yesterday, she was cool, calm and collected, just like her sons. Today, she appears to be a little more frazzled. I wouldn't call it worried, just anxious and excited.
Mock drafts have changed at least a dozen times today, with movement at the top of the board creating a domino affect on the rest of the first round.
For whatever reason, it looks like the Twins might be falling a little bit. That's not because of anything they've done, just the impact of the movement at the top.
By falling, we're still talking about Marcus Morris being taken with the final pick or two in the lottery and Markieff coming in somewhere between 15-19.
As for Josh Selby, not a lot of talk about him out here, but I'm starting to have a better feeling that my prediction of 30th to the Bulls might actually come in. He's definitely worth taking a flier on and the Bulls, who also have another pick toward the end of the first round could address their main need first and then roll the dice on Selby, a guy who would've been a lottery pick last year had he been allowed to jump from high school to the NBA.
Stay tuned in to this blog throughout the night for updates, trade information and videos, photos and analysis from the draft.
We're getting close now, as the first pick is less than 5 hours away.
While we wait, here's a quick look at some KU draft facts from the years.
• Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self will be in the “Green Room” at the NBA Draft with the Morris twins – Marcus and Markieff.
• Since 1990 Kansas has had 24 players drafted in the NBA (16 in the first round, eight in the second).
• In all, Kansas has had 71 players drafted in the NBA since 1947, the fourth-most all-time.
• During his tenure at Kansas, Head Coach Bill Self has had nine players selected in the NBA Draft, third most among active coaches over the past eight years.
• Since the genesis of the current lottery system in 1990, Kansas has had eight players selected as lottery picks, including four since 2007.
• The 2010 Draft marked the third time in the current lottery system that two players from Kansas were selected as lottery picks (1998 – Raef LaFrentz [3rd] and Paul Pierce [10th], 2003 – Kirk Hinrich [7th] and Nick Collison [12th], 2010 – Cole Aldrich [11th] and Xavier Henry [12th]).
• In the 2008 Draft, Kansas tied Connecticut and Florida with a record five players drafted in two rounds (Brandon Rush, Darrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers, Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun).
• Since 2001, Kansas has had 13 players drafted, one behind Connecticut and North Carolina who are tied for the most with 14.
• Since the inception of the Big 12 in 1996, Kansas has a league-leading 14 NBA draft picks.
• The 2010 Draft marked the fifth time since 1990 that two players from Kansas were selected in the first round of the NBA Draft.
• Danny Manning is the only Jayhawk to be drafted with the number one overall pick, selected by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1988 Draft.
• Draftees by Kansas Coaches: Phog Allen – 7, Dick Harp – 6, Ted Owens – 26, Larry Brown – 8, Roy Williams – 15, Bill Self – 9.
• The Boston Celtics have selected seven players from Kansas since 1953, the most of any NBA team.
Marcus Morris has arrived in New York City and the twins are starting to kick off their final night before learning their NBA fates.
Most of the official NBA requirements wrapped up late this afternoon. Angel Morris, Marcus and Markieff's mother, attended a seminar for NBA families around 5:30 and now the twins are regrouping in their room and planning how to spend the evening.
For the most part, it seems as if it'll be a low-key night. Markieff insists that he's not nervous and his demeanor serves as proof. He's been smiling all day and has looked very comfortable with what's going on around him every step of the way.
He keeps talking about feeling blessed to be here and fortunate and the way he's carrying himself illustrates that he's not just saying that. He means it.
Hoping to catch up with both twins one more time before the night's over. Then it's on to the waiting game. Safe to say tomorrow will be one of the longest days of their lives, just waiting to hear there names called by NBA commissioner David Stern.
Players are scheduled to arrive at the Prudential Center two hours before the first pick is made. When they do, they'll pose for photos, meet sponsors and go through a few more required appearances like that. Then it's into the green room until they hear their names called.
I'll have more throughout the day tomorrow via Twitter and also will be live blogging the draft — at least until the time the twins are selected. The rest of the KUsports.com crew also will be chiming in with draft coverage from the home front.
KU coach Bill Self is going to be in the green room with the twins tomorrow night. No word whether Josh Selby is in New York or if he will be here tomorrow night. I'll keep trying to track that information down.
Your best bet for info throughout the day tomorrow will be to by follow me on Twitter.
Also be sure to check out KUsports.com tomorrow for my story on Markieff's day in the city.
Markieff is in the middle of an NBA Cares event right now along with other potential first round draft picks, including Jimmer Fredette, Kemba Walker and Derrick Williams.
Markieff addressed the media at the NBA Draft media day, discussing his decision to leave Kansas and what the transition has been like so far.
Former Colorado guard Alec Burks gave his opinions on the Morris twins.
Former Kentucky guard Brandon Knight is also on hand, answering questions for the media.
Just waiting on the media sessions to start. Markieff will be in Group B and will go from noon to 12:30. Marcus is not in NYC yet, he's working out in Charlotte, which gives a lot more legitimacy to the idea of the Bobcats picking him at No. 9. He will be here this evening and I'll catch up with him then.
Until then, I'll be spending the next several hours w/ Markieff in the Big Apple. So check back throughout the day for videos and photos from NBA Draft 2011.
Original post 8 a.m. You’ve all seen the picture of Marcus Morris in the New York Yankees cap.
By now, you know that Marcus and twin brother, Markieff, hail from Philadelphia and are proud natives of the city of brotherly love.
And for the last three years you’ve seen these guys transform from inexperienced, oversized freshmen into two of the best players in college basketball.
Now, it’s time to see them in their element.
Journey with me to New York City, where I’ll spend a day in the life of the Morris twins and show you just what these guys are like in their home environment of the east coast. For the next several hours, I’ll bring you photos, videos and running updates of what the twins are doing, who they’re meeting and what they’re thinking one day before they hear their names called at the 65th annual NBA Draft — 6 p.m. Thursday at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
For all of the players eligible to be drafted this year — and every other year, really — this is a special time for them and their families. Dreams will be realized, goals will be achieved and, without question, a few tears will be shed.
For the Morris twins, the next couple of days figures to provide all of that plus a little more.
As Marcus and Markieff progress toward that inevitable day when they no longer can call each other teammates, a bunch of different emotions figure to rise to the surface. For a while, the buzz and excitement of being in the draft likely will keep those emotions subdued. And that’s where we come in.
Throughout the day, I’ll track the memorable moments that lead up to the time when each player hears his name called at Thursday night’s draft by NBA commissioner David Stern.
We’ll start with the 11:30 a.m. media session at the Westin Times Square and, from there, journey out onto the streets of the Big Apple, where Marcus and Markieff hit this stop and that on what surely will be one of the busiest — and at the same time fastest — days of their lives.
The next day, we’ll take you into the draft room at the Prudential Center, where I’ll be live blogging the draft — at least until the time the twins are taken. The rest of the KUsports.com crew will chip in to Thursday’s blog from Lawrence to make sure you’re up to speed on the latest from this year’s draft.
For grins, and to kill time both while you wait and while I flew out to NYC, I’ve thrown together a quick mock draft in five words or less of this year’s first round. Look it over if you want, or simply sit back and wait for the updates to start rolling in. Check back often throughout the day for the latest on the final day in the lives of the Morris twins as amateur athletes.
In addition to checking out KUsports.com all day, you also can track what’s happening throughout the week by following me on Twitter.
If mock drafts aren’t your thing, there’s still time to sign up for our 2011 KUsports.com NBA Draft contest, where predicting the draft spots of the Morris twins and Josh Selby can land you a sweet prize.
To enter, make sure you’re signed up for a KUSports.com account and ENTER THE CONTEST for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate for some new KU gear.
Copy my picks below at your own risk.
Cleveland — Kyrie Irving, Duke. This year’s John Wall? Nope.
Minnesota — Derrick Williams, Arizona. I would take him first.
Utah — Brandon Knight, Kentucky. Take PG. Get forward later.
Cleveland — Enes Kanter, Turkey. Bold and solid pick.
Toronto — Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State. One-of-a-kind player.
Washington — Jan Vesely, Czech Republic. Everyone wants next Dirk.
Sacramento — Kemba Walker, UConn. Kings become contenders.
Detroit — Markieff Morris, Kansas. Believe it or not.
Charlotte — Marcus Morris, Kansas. Great fit for player & team.
Milwaukee — Alec Burks, Colorado. Favorite player in the draft.
Golden State — Klay Thompson, Washington State. Klay&Curry = Backcourt of future.
Utah — Chris Singleton, Florida State. Polished and versatile with size.
Phoenix — Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania. Best big man left.
Houston — Bismack Biyombo, Congo. Biggest gamble but worth it.
Indiana — Marshon Brooks, Providence. Solid guard improves Pacers.
Philadelphia — Tristan Thompson, Texas. Wanted Markieff, settled for Thompson.
New York — Nikola Vucevic, USC. Legit 7-footer hard to pass.
Washington — Donatas Motiejunas, Italy. More foreign flavor with size.
Charlotte — Jimmer Fredette, BYU — MJ loves the Jimmer.
Minnesota — Jordan Hamilton, Texas. Could go 10 picks higher.
Portland — Kenneth Faried, Morehead State. Would have a spot anywhere.
Denver — Tobias Harris, Tennessee. Nuggs need scoring.
Houston — Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA. Great length, natural scorer. Underrated.
Oklahoma City — Kyle Singler, Duke. Another Nick Collison.
Boston — Iman Shumpert, Georgia Tech. Guard help for the future.
Dallas — Nikola Mirotic, Montenegro. Can afford project big man.
New Jersey — Davis Bertans, Latvia. Searching for late steal.
Chicago — Justin Harper, Richmond. Right demeanor to join Bulls.
San Antonio — Reggie Jackson, Boston College. Tony Parker’s not getting younger.
Chicago — Josh Selby, Kansas. Could be a steal.
A year ago, I traveled to New York City to cover the NBA Draft and watched as former Jayhawks Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry became lottery picks.
Are we in for a repeat this year? I’ll do my part.
For the second year in a row, I’ll be making the trek to the Big Apple to follow the draft goings on of Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris and Josh Selby, the three former Kansas University players eligible for this year’s draft.
Whether two of those three — perhaps more? — will be tapped as lottery picks remains to be seen. But I’ll be on the ground every step of the way bringing you the latest updates, videos and photos from New York.
I’ll spend a good chunk of Wednesday following the twins as they bounce around the big city and prepare for the night that will change their lives. As I do, you can follow their progress by logging on to KUsports.com for updates throughout the day. You also can track what’s happening all week by following me on Twitter.
In addition to providing an up-close-and-personal look at what’s up with the former Jayhawks about to become pros, I’ll provide all kinds of other interesting updates — about all of this year’s draft class — from Draft headquarters in Times Square both Wednesday and Thursday. In addition, I’ll be live blogging the draft beginning at 6 p.m. CST Thursday from the Prudential Center in New Jersey, while the rest of the KUsports.com crew holds down the fort back here.
With only a few days remaining before the draft, be sure to check out our 2011 KUsports.com NBA Draft contest.
To enter, make sure you’re signed up for a KUSports.com account and ENTER THE CONTEST for a chance to win a $100 in KU gear.
There’s a lot more where this came from, but, for now, we just wanted to make sure that those of you who love to follow your Jayhawks beyond Allen Fieldhouse and the streets of Lawrence were aware that we’ll have someone in New York for all of your 2011 NBA Draft needs.
Check back later in the week, as I’ll unveil my predictions for where the twins and Selby will be picked.
Don’t worry, I’m not eligible to win the contest.
Friday marks the end of the work week for most and could mark the end of a coaching search for the Kansas University football program.
The Journal-World has come up with the following list of viable candidates who could fill KU’s assistant coaching position in charge of linebackers. An announcement could be made as soon as Friday.
The job came open after former defensive coordinator Carl Torbush, who also handled the linebackers, announced his retirement last Tuesday so he could focus on his upcoming battle with prostate cancer. Immediately, KU head coach Turner Gill promoted Vic Shealy to defensive coordinator and Buddy Wyatt to co-defensive coordinator. Gill also said he hoped to fill the final spot on his staff by the end of the week.
That time has come and it’s time to look at the top candidates for the job.
• VANTZ SINGLETARY
The nephew of NFL Hall of Famer Mike Singletary is the favorite to land the job. Vantz Singletary, 46, worked under Gill for one season at the University of Buffalo in 2008 as the defensive line coach, and has a total of 17 years as a college assistant on his resume. His stops include Tennessee-Chattanooga, Hawaii, Southern and Trinity College.
After leaving Buffalo, Vantz joined his uncle on the San Francisco 49ers staff, where he worked as the assistant inside linebackers coach in 2009 and 2010. Mike Singletary was fired by the 49ers before the final game of the 2010 regular season and Vantz was relieved of his duties a few days later.
After playing two seasons at Blinn College, Vantz Singletary finished his playing career at Kansas State. He lettered at KSU in 1987 and 1988 and graduated in 1990.
A native of Houston, Vantz is married to the former Shawndra Saulter and he and his wife have four daughters.
• DAVID GIBBS
Gibbs, 43, served as the secondary coach at KU under Glen Mason in 1995-96 and has since spent 13 seasons coaching in the NFL.
From 1997-2000, he served as the defensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings. From 2001-04 he worked with the Denver Broncos, holding down three different jobs, all with the secondary. From 2006-08 he was the DB’s coach in Kansas City and, most recently, he spent the 2009-10 seasons in Houston coaching defensive backs for head coach Gary Kubiak.
Gibbs dipped back down to the collegiate level once during the past 14 years. In 2005, he was the defensive coordinator at Auburn.
Gibbs currently is out of work. Though he has an impressive resume, it’s a little light on collegiate experience and that may hurt his chances.
• THE FIELD
You never know who’s going to come into the picture late or who’s being talked to behind the scenes. With that in mind, we’ve gotta leave open the possibility that the job will go to someone who’s not on this list. In today’s world, that’s very possible. However, in this scenario, it’s not very likely.
• DOUG COLMAN
The only man on this list with direct ties to Nebraska, Colman, now in his second year as linebackers coach at Tulane, played for the Cornhuskers from 1991-95 and coached at NU in 2008-09.
As a player, he was a part of five Big Eight championships and suited up for back-to-back national champions (1994-95). As a Nebraska coach, he helped guide the Huskers to two straight Big 12 North titles and consecutive bowl appearances.
Originally from Ocean City, N.J., Colman, who turns 38 Saturday, has heavy recruiting ties to the east coast. He’s also familiar with Gill, who was Nebraska’s quarterbacks coach while Colman was on NU’s roster.
• CLINT BOWEN
It’s likely that Bowen’s name was the first that came to mind for many KU fans when first hearing about this opening. And with good reason. Bowen played at KU from 1992-93 and was an assistant coach with the Jayhawks under both Terry Allen and Mark Mangino for 12 seasons.
When Gill was hired Bowen left for Western Kentucky, where he spent the 2010 season as the Hilltoppers’ defensive coordinator. This offseason, Bowen, 38, and his family moved again, this time to the University of North Texas, where Bowen was hired to serve as the defensive coordinator to head coach Dan McCarney.
Had things not gone so well for Bowen since leaving KU, it’s possible that he would entertain the idea of coming home. However, the Lawrence native is very happy with his current job and believes in what the Mean Green are doing. In addition, he often has expressed a desire to become a head coach someday, and most head coaches aren’t position coaches before they move up, they’re coordinators.
Bowen’s in a great spot at an up-and-coming program and would have to be considered a longshot to come back to KU at this point.
One of the Kansas University football program’s most visible philanthropists was at it again Wednesday in Lawrence.
Mike Rivera, a linebacker, who graduated from KU in 2009 and now plays for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, hosted an hour-long youth camp for the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence with a help from a handful of friends and former teammates.
Rivera, who recently gained national notoriety for conducting a crochet class at Hillcrest Elementary, helped 54 children, from first grade through sixth, learn the fundamentals of football while having a little fun at the same time.
With the help of a dozen volunteers, Rivera and company ran the young athletes through six different stations that taught the basics of seven different football positions. “We had a wide receiver station, quarterback, linebacker, D-Line. They basically got to learn the fundamentals of every position,” Rivera said.
At the end of the day, the campers were divided into relay teams — one student per grade on each squad — and asked to show off what they learne by battling in different skills competitions.
“It got pretty competitive at the end,” Rivera said. “Everybody had a lot of fun.”
That included Rivera and the 12 volunteers who participated.
“I definitely know it helped the kids,” Rivera said. “They were mentored by people who make it a priority to spend time with them and give back to the community. But we also got a lot out of it, too. It’s just a great feeling to get out there and work with kids.”
Rivera was joined by former Jayhawks Justin Springer, Angus Quigley, Marcus Henry, Jake Laptad, Alonso Rojas, Chris Harris and Raymond Brown. Springer’s twin brother, Jeremy, also helped out, as did former KU students Claire Penzler, Sami Faulk, Garen Stacey and KU associate athletic director Mike Harrity.
Because the players have been locked out by the NFL’s owners, Rivera has spent the past several months working out in Lawrence and spending time with friends and family. He said he was eager to see the lockout lifted but added that, as long as he had some free time he’d continue to find ways to give back to community. Rivera, who grew up in Shawnee, has a special place in his heart for northeast Kansas, but he already has made plans with the Boys and Girls Club of Miami to host similar camps in South Florida whenever he can get back down there.
“It may just be a small camp now,” Rivera said. “But hopefully it’s just the start of bigger and better things.”
With the 2011 NBA Draft less than two months away, we now know who’s staying and who’s leaving the Kansas University basketball program. So, too, do the NBA executives who will make the picks and the ever-increasing number of “experts” who crank out mock drafts faster than you can say Naadir Tharpe.
That makes this month’s edition of NBA Stock Watch by far the most accurate to date. But just because the current crop of mock drafts are dealing with more concrete information than any before them does not mean that things won’t change in the next six or seven weeks.
Still, at least now we’ve got something a little more solid to go on. We know the Morris twins are gone and that’s given the NBA scouts a chance to truly evaluate how their incredible college games will translate to the pro game.
We also know that Josh Selby’s outta here — like it or not. And even though the verdict remains split about whether he made the right decision or not, most mock drafts out there have Selby as a first-rounder. That’s not to say that coming back wouldn’t have helped his stock and, therefore, his bank account. But first round is first round and that’s where the guaranteed contracts are signed.
We’ll do at least a couple more of these before the June 23 Draft — at the Prudential Center in New Jersey this year instead of Madison Square Garden in NYC because of renovations — but here’s something to whet your appetite for draft season.
JOSH SELBY: FR., GUARD, 6-2, 183 pounds
Stock Assessment: Came to Kansas with the reputation as a player likely to be the second one-and-done player in KU history. Sat out the first nine games due to suspension and exploded onto the scene with a monster game against USC in his debut. From there, Selby went on one heck of a roller coaster ride, one typical of freshmen, but not the kind expected by top-ranked players. According to most, Selby underachieved this season. Part of that had to do with injuries and the rest, who knows?
Average Mock Draft Position: 28th.
Current High: 20th (DraftSite.com)
Current Low: 34th (NBADraft.net)
Overall Movement: • Holding Steady • Selby continues to be a major mystery as the 2011 Draft draws near. Some see his enormous potential and still are awed by his high school film. Others continue to measure him by what he did at Kansas during his freshman season. All of that added together has Selby as a fringe first-rounder, teetering between the late first round and early second. A strong showing at the pre-draft workouts could lead to Selby shooting up the draft boards. I think there’s a strong possibility of this happening as the guy is made for pick-up basketball and is at his best when able to showcase his abundant individual skills instead of attempting to show them off in team settings.
MARCUS MORRIS: JR., FORWARD, 6-9, 235 pounds
Stock Assessment: Entered the season as a likely first-round pick with the potential to creep his way into the lottery. The biggest question surrounding Marcus Morris’ pro prospects after his junior season was whether he’d be ready to leave KU if twin brother Markieff wasn’t. The twins answered that question a few weeks ago by declaring for the draft so now it’s the sky’s the limit for Morris. Loved by scouts for his ability to handle the ball, hit from the outside and play in the paint, Morris has improved by leaps and bounds during each of his seasons at KU.
Average Mock Draft Position: 12th.
Current High: 10 (NBADraft.net and HoopsHype.com)
Current Low: 16 (MyNBADraft.com)
Overall Movement: + On The Rise + Morris was a projected lottery pick in all but one of the five mock drafts used for this blog. That’s an improvement from the last edition in which Morris was out of the lottery as often as he was in it. The reason for this is simple — teams now know he’s eligible for the draft and therefore it’s a lot easier to project where he’ll go. Nothing’s changed about Morris’ game that has NBA scouts thinking any differently about him. He’s still an incredibly talented, all-around big man with good size, guard skills and the chance to play multiple positions. I’ll be shocked if Morris isn’t a lottery pick.
MARKIEFF MORRIS: JR., FORWARD, 6-10, 245 pounds
Stock Assessment: Entered his junior season as a question mark, at least for NBA scouts. Clearly had the size and strength to reach the NBA, but, because he was strictly a role player during his freshman and sophomore seasons, Markieff was one of the more unknown prospects in college basketball. Exceeded any expectations by leading the team (and the Big 12) in rebounding and having as many big nights as his twin brother. Behind his big junior year, Markieff showed he was a polished player and declared for the draft along with his brother.
Average Mock Draft Position: 15th.
Current High: 12th (NBADraft.net and HoopsHype.com)
Current Low: 19th (MyNBADraft.com)
Overall Movement: + On The Rise + While his average draft position is up five spots from our last edition, the bigger indicator of just how ready Markieff is for the NBA is the fact that he was listed no lower than 19th in the five mock drafts used for this blog. In our last edition, there was still one web site that had Markieff as a second-rounder. Not any longer. Like his brother, Markieff has good athleticism and great touch on his outside jump shot. Unlike his brother, however, Markieff possesses a little more legit NBA size, which, depending on team needs, make him every bit as attractive to the NBA talent evaluators as Marcus. Because of his solid junior season and his bulk, Markieff’s currently a fringe lottery pick. Don’t be surprised if you see the Morris twins drafted back-to-back in June.
- Note — The official order for the NBA Draft Lottery will be determined on May 17 during a TV broadcast of an NBA playoff game. At that point, projecting the top 15 picks will be even easier because the mock drafts will be able to slot players in based on team needs as much as player talents.
** Note No. 2 — For those who might be curious, a couple of Jayhawks who announced they were returning next season also showed during my scan of current mock drafts. Not all of the sites used for this feature had their 2012 mock drafts ready yet, but those that did had this to say about KU guard Tyshawn Taylor and forward Thomas Robinson: NBADraft.net had Thomas Robinson penciled in as the 23rd pick in the first round and did not have Taylor listed at all in either the first or the second round. DraftExpress.com had T-Rob as the 15th pick and listed Taylor at No. 36, the sixth pick of the second round.
Draft sites used for the player positioning portion of this blog include: NBADraft.net, DraftExpress.com, HoopsHype.com and DraftSite.com and MyNBADraft.com.
Because the spring game marked the end of spring drills and there won’t be much football activity for the next few months, I thought I’d stretch my reaction to the game throughout the rest of the week.
Yesterday, I wrote up a blog about a handful of things that caught my eye from the spring game, which was won by the Blue squad, 17-6, in front of 6,000 or so fans on a gorgeous day at Memorial Stadium.
In case you missed it, take a look.
After the blog went live, I found myself looking over it, making sure that I included everything. As I did that, a few other thoughts popped into my head. These were things we did not see at the spring game and just about all of them caught me by surprise — at least a little bit.
So here they are for you to see, in case you, too, missed them last Saturday.
Where Was Tim Biere? — I know he didn’t play a ton of snaps, but any time 11 different players catch a pass, you’d sure expect your No. 1 tight end and returning senior starter to be one of them. My guess here is that Biere’s absence from the stat sheet was the result of the coaching staff not feeling like it needed to see what Biere can do. They’ve seen that. Last year, the 6-foot-4, 260-pound tight end caught 19 passes for 228 yards and led the team with four TD receptions. A year earlier, he finished with 14 catches for 183 yards in five starts. That included at least one reception in eight of the 10 games he played in.
While those aren’t incredible stats, they’re good enough for the coaching staff to know what they’ve got. Biere will be a big part of the offense again in 2011. Last week’s spring game was more about seeing how big of a role Jimmay Mundine can/will have.
Mecham About the Same — The word from KU camp is that both returning quarterbacks with starting experience got a lot better in the offseason. I saw that from Jordan Webb, who had a nice spring game. I didn’t really see it from Quinn Mecham, though.
This is not a knock on Mecham. I’ve always been a fan of his game, appreciated his cerebral approach and, most of last season, I even championed him as the right choice for the Jayhawks QB job for the second half of the 2010 season. I’d be doing the same thing today if I thought Mecham had improved a lot, but I just didn’t see it on Saturday. Maybe that’s not fair. After all, that’s just one scrimmage, too small of a sample size to judge a guy’s entire offseason. But, to me, Mecham still looked to be lacking athleticism, slow with his decisions and a little bit stuck in the mud in the pocket.
Consider this, if not for a great play by Christian Matthews, Mecham’s final numbers would’ve read 5-of-11 for 49 yards, 4 sacks and 1 interception. Instead, he finished 6-of-11 for 102 yards, 4 sacks and 1 TD. If the Jayhawks need him to play, Mecham is capable of running the offense. But, again, if the Jayhawks need him to play, they’re probably not going to win very many games.
A Bummer About Bourbon — As I watched Ryan Burton rack up carry after carry during the game’s second half — the Colorado Springs, Colo., sophomore finished with 23 yards and a game-high 12 carries — I couldn’t help but lament the fact that we were all missing out on something. Had red-shirt freshman Brandon Bourbon not been injured earlier this spring, a lot of those carries would’ve been his and the player many of us have been waiting to watch for more than a year now finally would’ve had our chance. Instead, Bourbon was on crutches on the sideline while Burton and Deshaun Sands tallied 18 carries (and just 38 yards) between them.
The good news here is that Bourbon is expected to be back this summer and ready to go by the time the season rolls around. Guess he’ll have to remain a mystery for a little while longer.
No Wildcat — I know these spring games aren’t about running everything in the playbook, but with as much as we’d seen the Wildhawk and Jayhawk offenses during the 14 practices leading up to the spring game, I sure thought we’d see the Wildcat set run at least once during the spring game. If for no other reason than to give the crowd — which was much larger than I expected — something to ooh and ahh about. But again, these games aren’t really about the fans either.
Offensive coordinator Chuck Long and the Jayhawks did dial up a little trickery on the first play from scrimmage. A fake hand-off to Sims inside turned out to be a pitch to D.J. Beshears on the reverse and Beshears rumbled for nine yards. One interesting note: While the reverse was going down to the left side of the formation, QB-turned-WR, Kale Pick, was sprinting to across the grain and behind Beshears to the right. I know they didn’t show a ton of unusual stuff last Saturday, but expect these types of misdirection plays to be a staple of the KU offense this season.
By now, you've read all about Saturday's spring game at Kansas University.
You've heard who looked good, who needs work and how the second version of Turner Gill's Jayhawks looked compared to what we saw last year.
In case you're dying to squeeze a little more juice out of the orange, here are a few final thoughts about Saturday's scrimmage from my vantage point.
It's Definitely Miller Time — Want another reason to get excited about freshman running back Darrian Miller? Look no further than the second possession of Saturday’s spring game. Miller, who came in to spell starting tailback James Sims, showed why he might be more than just a hot-shot freshman with serious wheels when he stepped up to cut down defensive end Julius Green on a 33-yard pass from Jordan Webb to Chris Omigie. Green, 6-7, 275 pounds, came across unblocked when tight end Ted McNulty went out on a route and right tackle Tanner Hawkinson engaged with the tackle. That tells me that leaving Green alone was designed, which says an awful lot about what the coaching staff thinks about Miller’s abilities. Not only can the kid carry the rock, but he’s smart enough to understand pass protection and man enough to stand in there and make it happen.
Webb 2.0 Clearly A Better Version — The more and more I thought about it (I’ll be honest, I watched a tape of the game again this weekend), the more I was impressed with the game Jordan Webb turned in on Saturday. Here’s the deal, you gotta take Webb’s performance with a grain of salt because most of it came against the Jayhawks’ second-string defense. But it wasn’t who Webb was facing that was important. It was how he played. He looked much more decisive and confident all afternoon, threw well on the run, tucked and ran when he needed to and made sure he stepped into most of his throws. That allowed him to put for zip on the ball and that led to him being more accurate with most of his passes. Beyond that, Webb looked pretty good on the zone read play, at least good enough to make defenses respect it this fall.
Mundine Is Money — Tight end Jimmay Mundine looked good during his unofficial first official game at Memorial Stadium. Although the 6-2, 226-pound red-shirt freshman is known to possess blazing speed for a man his size, Mundine showed on Saturday that he’s as much a reliable target as he is a big-time speedster. He caught three balls for 31 yards during the game and two of the three came in heavy traffic. He would’ve had a fourth completion had it not been for a sandwich smack laid on him by KU’s linebackers Darius Willis and Steven Johnson. The coaching staff loves Mundine and it won’t be long before you’re loving him, too. He’s already become a favorite of mine to interview.
Interesting Idea for Embree — No, Daymond Patterson did not play during Saturday’s spring game. Last year’s leading receiver sat out because of an injury. DP’s expected to be fine this fall, but one of the guys who looked just fine filling in for him on Saturday was freshman walk-on Connor Embree. Embree, the son of Colorado coach Jon Embree, caught three balls for 19 yards and nearly came up with another when Webb gave him a shot in the end zone, late in the second quarter. With Patterson and D.J. Beshears ahead of him on the depth chart, it’s not likely that Embree — he originally chose to play football at UNLV but later came to Kansas — will get much of a chance to play this fall. He’s a natural candidate to red-shirt, though, and, doing so, could put him in position to take the reins from Beshears after the 2012 season.
Pick A Weapon, Any Weapon — Less than a year into his transition from quarterback to wide receiver, it’s already easy to see that KU junior Kale Pick is going to help the offense. Such a naturally gifted athlete, Pick can get the ball in a variety of places and make something happen. That was on display Saturday, when Pick caught a team-high four passes for 38 yards. It wasn’t just Pick’s ability to catch the balls thrown to him that stood out, though. It was how the KU offense used him. Remember, what we saw on Saturday was probably less than 40 percent of what’s in the KU playbook. Even still, I saw the KU offense run Pick in motion, line him up wide, line him up in the slot and fake reverses to him. A guy with his skillset — not to mention experience at QB — is sure to attract a lot of attention from opposing defenses this fall and that’s a good thing for the KU offense as a whole.
Thursday’s first round of the 2011 NFL Draft might not have meant much to the current crop of Kansas University football players waiting to see if they’ll get a shot to play pro ball, but it did mean something to a handful of former Jayhawks who used to call Memorial Stadium home.
With Rounds 2 and 3 slated for tonight, it’s unlikely that Day 2 will be any more relevant for guys like Chris Harris, Brad Thorson, Jake Laptad and Johnathan Wilson. Their day is coming. And it’s Saturday. That’s the day those guys — along with a couple others — will find out if they’re late-round picks or free agent pick-ups.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a quick look at what Thursday’s action means for the few Jayhawks already in the NFL.
Up first, Cincinnati.
The Bengals addressed a huge need at wide receiver by taking Georgia stud A.J. Green with the No. 4 pick. Cincy is expected to lose two high-profile wideouts in Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco this offseason so Green was the no-brainer pick.
The Bengals have been known for their explosive offense lately and even though it’s uncertain who will be under center for the Bengals in 2011, the fact that they continue to emphasize offense should be taken as a good sign for offensive tackle Anthony Collins, the Bengals’ former Jayhawk who is packed with potential but has yet to make a serious splash in the NFL.
Bottom line: If the Bengals want to get Green the ball, they have to protect their quarterback. Collins’ value remains in tact.
Next up, was Atlanta, two picks later.
The Falcons traded with Cleveland to slide into the sixth spot in the draft, where they took Julio Jones, the dynamic play-making wide receiver from Alabama. My first thought here was that the Falcons moving up to take a receiver was not good news for former Jayhawk Kerry Meier, whom Atlanta drafted in the fifth round last year.
After thinking about it for a while, though, the opposite is actually true. This is great news for Meier. Let’s face it, he was never going to be the Falcons’ No. 2 receiver. He’s a slot guy, a possession receiver, a No. 3 at best. If he can come back healthy and continue to progress at the rate he was before the injury, Meier could slide into that No. 3 or No. 4 role. When he does, the field will be littered with dangerous weapons in Roddy White, Jones and Tony Gonzalez. That should give the sure-handed Meier plenty of room to work.
Bottom line: Atlanta’s offense got a whole lot more dangerous with this move and it did so without hurting Meier’s place with the team.
Next came San Francisco in the No. 7 spot. The Golden Gate area is the current home to 11-year pro Moran Norris, a fullback with the 49ers, who carried the ball plenty during his days at Kansas.
The 49ers went defense here in the form of Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith. There’s talk that the pick was made as part of an upcoming trade that would send Smith to Philly for Eagles QB Kevin Kolb.
Bottom line: Norris won’t be affected much by this pick. If the Niners keep Smith, then Norris will have to get used to the idea of playing with a Tiger on his team. If they don’t, and Kolb comes in to take over under center, that can only help the San Francisco offense.
Miami came in at No. 15 and the Dolphins’ pick of offensive lineman Mike Pouncey shouldn’t have any impact of former KU linebacker Mike Rivera’s quest to make the Dolphins’ active roster.
Bottom line: Rivera’s in exactly the same boat today that he was in when he woke up on Thursday.
The Chargers, which feature two former Jayhawks on their roster in safety Darrrell Stuckey and linebacker James Holt picked 18th and they added Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget.
Adding a presence up front should only help Stuckey and Holt’s performance. In Holt’s case, Liuget’s ability to occupy blockers should allow him more free runs at the quarterback. In Stuckey’s case, a better pass rush always means a better pass defense. Think more balls thrown quicker than QBs would like and more chances for the second-year safety to make plays.
Bottom line: With the offense in good shape, the Chargers continue to retool their defense, without touching the secondary or linebacker position. Good news for Holt and Stuckey.
The last pick in the first round that was of interest to former Jayhawks came from Tampa Bay at No. 20. The Bucs added Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn and Clayborn’s size, strength and nasty streak should make him a starter from Day 1.
That’s good news for former KU cornerback Aqib Talib, provided Talib remains with Tampa next season. Talib’s recent run-in with the law has him in serious trouble and there are rumors out there that the Bucs are ready to release him. Time will tell on that one, but if Talib’s back patrolling the Tampa secondary next season, he and Clayborn will be friends.
Tampa Bay also has former KU receiver Dezmon Briscoe on its roster, but I think it goes without saying that adding a DE does nothing to hurt or help the stock of one of Tampa’s wide receivers.
Bottom line: Clayborn makes this team better, which is something both former Jayhawks can get behind.
That’s it for our review of Round 1 and how it affects the former Jayhawks in the NFL.
In case you missed it, here’s a look at our draft preview that spells out which Jayhawks from the 2010 season are hoping to land with an NFL team by the end of the weekend.
It’s time. Time to give you some sort of gauge at what the Kansas University football team’s two-deep depth chart might look like 12 practices into the spring.
Remember, this is merely my attempt at constructing something close based on what I’ve seen, who I’ve talked to and what we’ve reported. The Jayhawks have not yet released an updated depth chart. The only one the program has made public was a pre-spring depth chart which had a few “Or” entries, did not include all of the newcomers and was missing second-stringers in some cases. I wouldn’t expect to see them release another one until the end of spring practices.
But I can’t wait that long. And I’m guessing many of you can’t either.
So here goes nothing...
— OFFENSE —
QB: Jordan Webb; Quinn Mecham
RB: James Sims; Darrian Miller
FB: Nick Sizemore; Josh Smith
X-WR: Christian Matthews; Erick McGriff
H-WR: Daymond Patterson; D.J. Beshears
Z-WR: Chris Omigie; Kale Pick
RT: Tanner Hawkinson; Michael Martinovich
RG: Duane Zlatnik; Randall Dent
C: Jeremiah Hatch; Dylan Admire
LG: Trevor Marrongelli; Tom Mabry
LT: Jeff Spikes; Gavin Howard
TE: Tim Biere; Ted McNulty
HB-U: Jimmay Mundine; A.J. Steward
— DEFENSE —
DT: John Williams; Patrick Dorsey
DT: Pat Lewandowski; Richard Johnson
DE: Toben Opurum; Tyrone Sellers
DE: Keba Agostinho; Julius Green
SLB: Huldon Tharp; Malcolm Walker
MLB: Darius Willis; Steve Mestan
WLB: Steven Johnson; Prinz Kande
BC: Greg Brown; Dexter Linton
FC: Tyler Patmon; Anthony Davis
SS: Bradley McDougald; Lubbock Smith
FS: Keeston Terry; Ray Mitchell
— SPECIALISTS —
PK: Ron Doherty; Victor McBride
P: Ron Doherty; Victor McBride
KR: D.J. Beshears; Bradley McDougald
PR: Daymond Patterson; D.J. Beshears
LS: Justin Carnes; Michael Martinovich
With just two practices and Saturday’s spring game remaining on the schedule before the Kansas University football team hangs up the equipment until August, things are starting to become a little clearer in terms of who fits in where on the Jayhawks’ two-deep depth chart.
Of course, with more than 20 incoming freshmen set to arrive for preaseason camp, things could change quite a bit in the months leading up to the start of the regular season.
For now, here’s what we know based on the small portion of the handful of practices we’ve been able to observe this spring:
• Patterson Back in Pads — After sitting out the last several practices, Daymond Patterson was back on the field Monday, participating at less than full speed. Patterson wore a helmet and pads but was in shorts instead of pants. After taking the field with a little extra adrenaline, Patterson quickly received treatment from the trainers and then joined his teammates. He seemed to be in good spirits and, clearly, was thrilled to be back out there. But he’s still not at 100 percent and I don’t expect to see too much from him Saturday. The important thing here is that Patterson’s leg injury heels in time for the start of the season. Right now, he’s the only proven wide receiver on the roster and there’s no way the coaches are going to jeopardize his season by asking him to do too much during spring ball.
• New Name at Nickel — Sophomore cornerback Dexter Linton was running with the first team defense as the nickel back on Monday. Linton, 5-foot-11, 200 pounds from Arlington, Texas, brings the kind of size and corner skills to the position that former KU defensive back Chris Harris (5-10, 190) did in 2010.
• Bourbon Out 6-8 Weeks — KU running back Brandon Bourbon, a red-shirt freshman from Potosi, Mo., suffered a lower leg injury last week and will be out the next couple of months. Gill said on Monday that he was encouraged by the nature of Bourbon’s injury and that he expected the 6-foot-1, 210-pound back to be ready to go by the time preseason camp opens in August. “He’ll definitely be ready to go in the fall,” Gill said. “It’s an unfortunate situation, but he will be fine and ready to go (this) summer, and, no doubt, he’ll be ready to go in the fall.”
• D-Line Still A Question Mark — The defensive line appears to have undergone another overhaul, as only defensive end Toben Opurum remained in his first-string position from what we saw the last time we were out at practice. Joining Opurum on the D-Line on Monday were tackles Pat Lewandowski and John Williams along with the outside-then-inside-then-back-out defensive end Keba Agostinho. Patrick Dorsey, Richard Johnson and Julius Green all ran with the second unit on Monday.
• Safeties Seem Set — No position is more concrete in terms of first-string talent than safety. Junior Bradley McDougald and sophomore Keeston Terry are your starters there and nobody is even remotely close to pushing them out of those spots.
• O-Line Looking Fine — KU coach Turner Gill has talked a lot about wanting to find seven or eight offensive linemen he feels good about in a rotation. I believe he’s close. The first team is set with Jeremiah Hatch at center, Duane Zlatnik and Trevor Marrongelli at the guards and Jeff Spikes and Tanner Hawkinson at tackle. Beyond them, freshman Dylan Admire has looked good as the second-string center and Randall Dent, Michael Martinovich, Gavin Howard and Tom Mabry have solidified themselves as second-stringers. Those last five were working with the second unit throughout practice Monday. Add to them, the expected return of Riley Spencer and the addition of four or five freshmen and this group has a chance to be deep and talented.
• Thank You, Ms. Lonergan — Lastly, a note of thanks from our staff to KU sports information director Katy Lonergan, who saved KUsports.com online editor Jesse Newell from a total meltdown when she showed him how to reboot his iPhone at the start of Monday's practice. With his phone — which brings you the great videos from practice you've seen this spring — looking dead, Newell had tried everything. He tried to turn it off and then on again, tried to charge it, even searched for a battery to take out and put back in. Nothing worked. But then Katy told him to hold down the button on the top and the "home" button at the same time and within seconds the phone kicked back on and order was restored. Newell quickly went to work on a video of KU's tight ends in action, which should be up shortly. Thanks, Katy!
It may have just been the prelims, but Olathe North High senior and Kansas University football signee Adonis Saunders clearly was fired up by standing inside the venue he'll be playing in for the next four seasons on Friday.
Running in a light mist in the boys 100-meter dash, Saunders ripped off the fastest time in the state by a prep sprinter this year by finishing in 10.63 seconds and advancing to Saturday's finals.
After the race, Saunders (#2 in red and white in above photo) admitted to being pumped up by Memorial Stadium.
"I can't wait to come up here and play football right out there on that field," he said.
Saunders, a defensive back who stands 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, said he didn't expect such a blazing fast time so early in the meet, but that he was pleased to add another line to his impressive athletic resume.
As a sophomore, Saunders won state titles in the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay en route to being named the Kansas Gatorade Track Athlete of the Year.
This season, he earned all-state honors from the Wichita Eagle and Topeka Capital Journal on the gridiron, where he rushed for 1,554 yards and recorded 70 tackles to go along with three interceptions.
He said Friday that he's a football player first and foremost and that, while he's looking forward to finishing the track season in style, he can't wait to get up to KU this summer to start working out with the team.
In addition to the 100, Saunders plans to run the 200, 400, 4x100 and 4x400 this weekend.
We'll have more from Saunders' run at the Relays when the weekend's over so be sure to check back with KUsports.com.
We’re getting close now. The Kansas University football team is down to four practices remaining before the annual spring game — 1 p.m. April 30 — closes the book on head coach Turner Gill’s second spring with the Jayhawks.
Monday, after running through their second intra-squad scrimmage of the spring, the Jayhawks ran through practice No. 10 and it was clear from the few minutes I watched at the beginning that the team has shifted gears from simply working on skills and conditioning to beginning to prepare for the season.
A good chunk of the beginning of Monday’s practice was spent working on formations on both the offensive and defensive sides of the practice fields. At the offensive end, offensive coordinator Chuck Long barked out packages and watched his offense quickly line up in front of him. Once the alignment was set, the KU offense snapped the ball and ran, half-speed, through the beginning of a play. On passing plays, the ball never left the quarterback’s hands. On running plays, the backs rarely advanced beyond the line of scrimmage before the whistle blew and another number was called out.
“Twenty,” Long would yell as the team would line up accordingly.
After running that set — successfully — the call would change to “Eleven,” “Twenty-One,” or “Twelve.”
It’s hard to tell exactly what these formations were, outside of the obvious things like some were run with three wideouts, others with a fullback and still more with two tight ends. But making plays was not the point of this session. Lining up properly was. And when someone messed that up, the coaches let ’em have it.
On the defensive end of the field, defensive coordinator Carl Torbush ran his front seven through a similar workout. The KU defense showed all kinds of different looks, a 3-4, a 4-3, an all-out blitz, a fake blitz, etc., and all of it was run at half speed, with the point being only on making sure guys knew what they were doing and lined up in the right spots.
That was different from what we normally see during the first 20-30 minutes of practice we’re invited to watch. Usually, the time is spent on position drills and pre-practice type of warm-ups. Today, it was much more about alignments and assignments, which only made me more ready for some real football.
Here’s a quick look at a few other things that stood out Monday:
Wide Receivers Update — Senior wide receiver Daymond Patterson, who has missed the last handful of practices because of a leg injury, again sat out of Monday’s practice in sweats. Though Patterson participated in some of the warm-ups and stretches, he was held out of the live action. Gill said recently that keeping Patterson out was merely precautionary, and, from the looks of things, it appears as if Patterson is fine, just giving the injury proper time to heal. Though he’s been out of the action, Patterson has been involved in a vocal way, helping the younger guys understand the routes and the sets and doing his best to motivate his teammates. With DP sidelined, Chris Omigie, D.J. Beshears and Christian Matthews looked to be running with the first team offense for most of Monday’s practice.
Knee Brace U? — For the second straight season, the Jayhawks have outfitted their quarterbacks with knee braces on their left legs. KU did this same thing last year and all three quarterbacks who practiced Monday wore the bulky braces as a precautionary measure. As senior QB Quinn Mecham explained, the braces are in place only as a safety measure. “It’s for protection of the ACL during practice,” Mecham said. “We’re not hurt, it’s just a protection think and it’s a great idea, I think.”
Wildcat Update — It appears that there’s more to KU’s “Wildcat” package than originally known. The Jayhawks have not one but two different direct-snap sets in the playbook this year. One of them, “Jayhawk,” is a direct snap to a wide receiver. It could be Kale Pick, D.J. Beshears or Christian Matthews (who got a lot of the reps on Monday). The other, “Wildhawk,” is a direct snap to a running back, most often James Sims, Brandon Bourbon or Darrian Miller.
New Position for Pat — Gill said after practice Monday that red-shirt freshman Pat Lewandowski has been moved from defensive end to defensive tackle. In addition, Gill said Lewandowski, a 6-6, 248-pound lineman from Blue Valley West High, was the one player among all those who switched positions this spring who had stood out the most. Once thought to be a weak and thin position, the DT spot now has as many as six legitimate options. That bodes well for KU to have a productive rotation at the position, but the question about which guys will emerge as starters still remains. Patrick Dorsey and Richard Johnson have logged the most snaps at D-Tackle, while Lewandowski, Kevin Young, Keba Agostinho, and John Williams also figure to get a shot, as well.
For the third time this spring, the media was invited to the practice fields at Kansas University to check out 15-20 minutes of the KU football team’s practice.
Today’s practice was the first after last Saturday’s scrimmage, in which newcomers Darrian Miller (4 TDs) and Julius Green (several tackles for loss) were said to have stood out.
Instead of relying on the word of those who saw the scrimmage, I was allowed to make my own observations at today’s practice. Here’s a quick look at what I came up with:
Wildcat offense looks to be in the KU arsenal: After wondering in vain throughout 2010 if the Jayhawks would install the ‘Wildcat’ offense that incorporates a direct snap to a running back or wide receiver, it looks as if that will be part of the package this year. Monday, the Jayhawks called out “Jayhawk” several times — a play-call that’s done both verbally and by flapping one’s “wings” — and the team lined up quickly and without confusion each time it was called. The first few times they ran “Jayhawk” it was sophomore wide receiver Christian Matthews who took the snaps. Later, junior wideout Kale Pick took his turn. It should be fun to watch how that one unfolds this season.
Linebackers look bigger, faster: Thanks to the return of sophomore Huldon Tharp and the presence of transfer Darrius Willis, the KU linebacking corps, which includes returning starter Steven Johnson playing on the outside with Tharp, looks a lot faster, a lot more explosive and even a little bigger. Johnson (95 tackles and 2 sacks in 2010) seems to have added a little bulk this year and Tharp and Willis both look fast. While those three made up the first team, they were backed up by sophomore Steve Mestan (MLB), junior transfer Malcolm Walker (OLB) and sophomore Prinz Kande (OLB), a former safety who moved to linebacker during the offseason.
Brown bulks up: He played his best football of the season down the stretch last year and it looks as if that success continued into the offseason, as junior cornerback Greg Brown looks to have added around 10 pounds of muscle during the offseason. Brown, who played in all 12 games a season ago, appears to be a likely candidate to start at one cornerback position when the season kicks off in September.
Not all sunshine and rainbows: Maybe it was just a case of the Mondays, but even during drills run at half-speed, several members of both the first-team offense and the scout-team defense jumped offsides or took an early step during the Jayhawks’ pre-practice routine on Monday. The intensity seemed to be up a dozen notches by the end of practice, so, again, maybe it was just a slow start.
Injury update: Senior wide receiver Daymond Patterson (foot) was held out of practice again, sophomore defensive tackle Kevin Young received attention on-and-off during Monday’s practice, though he did participate, and junior running back Rell Lewis, who is attempting to come back from an ACL injury that kept him out all of last season, was seen wearing a brace on his injured knee and limping slightly.