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Entries from blogs tagged with “Tale of the Tait”

Going deep: My early stab at filling out KU football’s fall depth chart (for now)

Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist (10) gets set to run a play during the first day of spring practices on Tuesday, March 27, 2012.

Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist (10) gets set to run a play during the first day of spring practices on Tuesday, March 27, 2012. by Richard Gwin

We now are officially two full weeks removed from the end of spring football and that seems like as good a time as any for me to release my projected KU football depth chart for the fall.

A couple of quick things to remember before diving in:

  1. I only saw the first 20 minutes of about five practices and 90 minutes of another.

  2. These projections are based not only on what I saw and heard this spring but also what I didn’t see and include plenty of players who will arrive on campus in June. Those players have a bullet point after their names in the depth chart below.

  3. It’s possible — likely even — that not all of the players below are listed at the positions they’ll play this fall. Take wide receiver, for example. On the pre-spring depth chart that KU coach Charlie Weis handed out, seniors Daymond Patterson and D.J. Beshears were listed as the 1 and the 2 at the same WR spot. However, based on what I saw this spring, it seemed as if Beshears emerged as one of the team’s top three receivers, so I’ve got him as a first-team guy. I’ll tighten this up when August rolls around (thankfully, we should get some more help from Weis then) but, for now, I’m going with my method.

  4. This thing has changed about six times during the course of the past six weeks and could very easily be tweaked again next week. But, hey, I’m not the head coach and it’s not my job to set this thing in stone. So let the speculation begin and let’s see how different this version looks from the one we get in August.

Offense
WR Kale Pick (Sr.) — Josh Ford• (Jr.)
WR Daymond Patterson (Sr.) — JaCorey Shepherd (Soph.)
WR D.J. Beshears (Sr.) — Christian Matthews (Jr.)
LT Tanner Hawkinson (Sr.) — Chad Kolumber (Soph.)
LG Duane Zlatnik (Sr.) — Damon Martin (RSFr.)
C Trevor Marrongelli (Sr.) — Dylan Admire (RSFr.)
RG Aslam Sterling• (Jr.) — Gavin Howard (Jr.)
RT Riley Spencer (Jr.) — Bryan Peters (RSFr.)
TE Jimmay Mundine (Soph.) — Charles Brooks• (Jr.)
QB Dayne Crist (Sr.) — Turner Baty• (Soph.)
HB Tony Pierson (Soph.) — Brandon Bourbon (Soph.)

Defense
DE Josh Williams• (Sr.) — Keba Agostinho (Jr.)
DT Jordan Tavai• (Jr.) — Pat Lewandowski (Soph.)
NT Ty McKinney• (Jr.) — John Williams (Jr.)
DE Michael Reynolds (Soph.) — Keon Stowers• (Jr.)
SLB Toben Opurum (Sr.) — Tunde Bakare (Sr.)
MLB Schyler Miles• (Fr.) — Anthony McDonald• (Sr.)
WLB Huldon Tharp (Jr.) — Darius Willis (Jr.)
CB Greg Brown (Sr.) — Greg Allen• (Fr.)
CB Tyler Patmon (Jr.) — Nas Moore• (Jr.)
SS Lubbock Smith (Sr.) — Ray Mitchell (Soph.)
FS Bradley McDougald (Sr.) — Victor Simmons (Soph.)

Special Teams
K Ron Doherty (Jr.) — Alex Mueller (Soph.)
P Ron Doherty (Jr.) — Victor McBride (Soph.)
KR D.J. Beshears (Sr.) — Bradley McDougald (Sr.)
PR Daymond Patterson (Sr.) — D.J. Beshears (Sr.)

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Realignment Today: What’s the status with Conference Realignment Round 3 and how does it affect KU and the Big 12?

2:57 p.m. Update:

OK, so during today's KU football chat and, really, most of the day on Twitter, people were clamoring for a percentage wheel of some kind. I didn't really think I had a great one regarding this topic yet, but I can give you something. Here goes: Percentage chance predicting the time of realignment drama we'll have this summer...

  1. Steady Eddie. There will be some action, but it won't take over our souls - 60%
  2. Def-Con 5. Fast and furious, yet again - 21%
  3. Other. You never know, you know? - 13%
  4. None. Everything will remain calm and quiet - 6%

Stay tuned...

Original Post, 10:28 a.m.

Tomorrow marks the two-year anniversary of the first conference realignment blog I ever wrote for this web site. In some ways it seems like a decade ago and in others it seems like just yesterday.

The question on everyone’s mind today, though, is will future realignment blogs be a part of tomorrow?

Good question.

Since penning that first realignment blog — which wrapped with this: “I do know this; change is coming, and, although it might be tough to accept at first, it could be in KU’s best interest.” — I wrote more than 25 others and received well over a million page views on all of it combined. That’s just incredible and it speaks to the passion and devotion you all have for your KU sports.

During the past couple of weeks, as the Big 12 Conference replaced interim commissioner Chuck Neinas with new boss Bob Bowlsby and rumors of Realignment Round 3 began to surface, I found myself questioning whether we’d be going through something like that again this summer. My gut tells me no, but my mind tells me to stay on high alert. I will.

If any realignment type issues come up this summer, I don’t expect they will reach the levels we saw during the past two summers, when the country’s most powerful conferences made major moves and threatened to make more while bringing college athletics to the brink of complete chaos and restructuring.

The Big East, with its interim commissioner and a larger but less impressive membership roster, appears to be the most vulnerable conference to further poaching. The Big 12 once occupied that spot, but the conference now appears to be on stable ground with Bowlsby in the front office and new TV deals bringing the promise of bookoo bucks. The league is close to reaching an official extension with ESPN that would run for 13 years and be worth $1.3 billion.

Beyond that, I can’t see any of the 10 Big 12 schools wanting out. I suppose there’s a chance that the ever-wandering eyes of Texas and Oklahoma could stray once again, but those schools seem happy with the Big 12’s current direction and the league now has language in place that makes it much tougher to get out the way Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas A&M did during the past two years. Besides that, once the new TV deals become official, the granting of rights pledge will increase from its current mark of six years to 13 years, a strong sign of each school’s commitment to the league. After all, the granting of right locks the schools to the league because if any school were to leave it would not take with it complete control of its media rights.

If anything, the Big 12 may go on the offensive and look to expand its membership back to 12 teams or perhaps even more. That’s been the hottest rumor of late, with Clemson and Florida State taking the lead. If there’s any truth at all to those rumors, which I’m still trying to decipher, then it’s clear that the ACC is in a precarious position, as well.

Here are a couple of links that cover the topic of FSU and Clemson to the Big 12:

http://cemetery-hill.com/2012-articles/may/details-of-rumored-big-12-expansion-with-clemson-a-fsu-emerge.html

http://saturdayblitz.com/2012/05/05/clemson-florida-state-big-12-rumor-should-put-other-conferences-on-guard/

http://kansascity.sbnation.com/2012/5/10/3011549/florida-state-big-12-expansion-seminoles-rumors-clemson

One thing that continues to force me to scratch my head is how, or perhaps why, Louisville has fallen off the map? Remember, not long ago, Louisville was deemed by most as the next most likely candidate to join the Big 12 after TCU and West Virginia were added last fall. Heck, Louisville nearly jumped in line ahead of West Virginia.

I’m not saying it’s a sure thing that Louisville is going to join the Big 12. But I’d give the Cardinals as much of a shot as Clemson or Florida State. In fact, I think you could make as strong a case for Rutgers (think New York market) and Louisville to be the Big 12’s 11th and 12th teams as you could for Clemson and FSU.

For one, the Big East is in peril and even though it continues to point toward “a bright future,” some of the teams it’s adding simply are not that attractive. Two, with the BCS set to undergo major changes and the concept of automatic-qualifiers hanging in the balance, some of those schools that looked at joining the Big East for the easier road to BCS gold might elect to back out while there’s still time. The most obvious example of that would be Boise State.

I’ve been told all along and over and over that the Big 12 is content with 10 teams and does not see any reason to expand, therein spreading the television revenue thinner. So until I hear otherwise, I’m going to stick with that. Sources continue to say that the league is happy with its current membership, but there is the belief that if the right teams came along and were interested the Big 12 would consider expansion.

Either way, with new leadership in place and the league determined to never again go through what it went through these past two summers, it only makes sense that the Big 12 would look into being more proactive this time around — just in case.

Many out there, including the blog below, are convinced that the league will add at least two more teams sometime this summer. I can’t say that would surprise me. Then again, after what I’ve seen and heard during the past two years, nothing would surprise me when it comes to conference realignment.

http://jugofsnyder.com/2012/05/09/big-12-to-expand-back-to-12-by-summers-end/

Stay tuned...

And while you do, here are a couple of quick-hitters that I’ll continue to be tracking as we head into the summer.

• The Big 12 spring meetings will begin May 30 in Kansas City, Mo. These meetings were hot during the past two summers and it’s possible — extremely likely, even — that the topic of expansion will be kicked around quite a bit during the meetings. I’ll be over there.

• The contract of acting commissioner Chuck Neinas expires on June 30.

• TCU and West Virginia officially will be added to the conference in July. • Why would ACC schools Clemson and FSU be interested in joining the Big 12? As was the case in 2011, the ACC’s football schools are rumored to be tired of the conference catering to basketball powers North Carolina and Duke and adding hoops schools Syracuse and Pitt.

• BYU is not dead in all of this. Neither is Notre Dame. Yes, Notre Dame.

• As it stands today, Florida State is the key piece in all of this expansion talk and the Seminoles will have to be the ones who come calling. The Big 12 will not go to them. Similarly, Clemson will not even look west without knowing that Florida State is doing the same. I’ve heard that FSU wants in but wants the Big 12 to expand to 14 and would like the conference to consider adding Miami, Georgia Tech and possibly others instead of the Big East bunch.

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McCay’s out, so where does that leave KU’s receiving corps?

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/photos/2011/08/09/ku_fbc_media_receivers.jpg

OK, so we now know — whether we agree with the NCAA’s decision or not — that Kansas University sophomore wide receiver Justin McCay, a transfer from Oklahoma, will have to sit out the 2012 season and will not be eligible to play again until 2013, when he’ll be a junior.

It’s a tough break for McCay, for sure, but it does not cripple the KU offense. Not at all.

Based on what they did this spring, along with what they’ve done in the past, it looks as if seniors D.J. Beshears, Daymond Patterson and Kale Pick will be three of the guys who catch passes from Dayne Crist this fall.

The question now becomes — who will join them? I had thought all along that McCay would be that guy, but now that he’s out, let’s look at some other candidates, in no particular order.

• Christian Matthews, 6-1, 200, junior
Former quarterback still making the adjustment to wide receiver. Had a quiet spring, but his big springs of the past never carried over into the season. Could the opposite be true this fall for the bigger, more polished wideout?

• Chris Omigie, 6-4, 202, junior
Could this be the year that Omigie becomes a legit option in the passing game? If that question sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Omigie always has looked the part, but has had a hard time delivering at gametime. Weis’ offense has always treated tall targets well.

• Josh Ford, 6-4, 195, junior
Big, fast, athletic target who attacks the ball in the air. I think he gains the most from the McCay news and his is a name KU fans should learn quickly.

• Erick McGriff, 6-1, 214, junior
Familiar face, but I didn’t hear his name much this spring and he didn’t show up on the initial depth chart.

• JaCorey Shepherd, 5-11, 185, sophomore
Had a solid freshman season when KU needed someone to step up. Listed third at his position on the pre-spring depth chart, but has a ton of talent and confidence.

• Andrew Turzilli, 6-3, 185, sophomore
Could very well be on the verge of breaking through. So far, Turzilli pretty much has only played in mop-up time, but he’s caught darn near everything thrown his way when he’s been in there.

• Ricki Herod, 6-2, 190, sophomore
Third year in the program, but has yet to make a name for himself.

• Connor Embree, 5-10, 186, sophomore
The son of Colorado coach Jon Embree is more out of the mold of Patterson and Beshears, which will make playing time tough to come by until they’re gone.

• Tre Parmalee, 5-10, 160, freshman
With this much depth, the Bishop Miege High prospect known for sensational route-running is a likely red-shirt candidate unless the coaching staff believes he can help on special teams.

For those still with me, I’ll leave you with a little treat — a percentage wheel regarding which KU receiver on this list will make the biggest impact for the KU offense this season.

  1. Josh Ford -- 36%
  2. Christian Matthews -- 25%
  3. Chris Omigie -- 18%
  4. JaCorey Shepherd -- 14%
  5. Other -- 7%
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Looking back at the 2012 KU football spring game

The Jayhawks sing the Alma Mater before the band and the student section following the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field.

The Jayhawks sing the Alma Mater before the band and the student section following the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field. by Nick Krug

After weeks — perhaps months — of anticipation, the first spring football game under Kansas University coach Charlie Weis has come and gone and, judging by the general opinion of the dozens of people that I spoke with in the hours since Saturday’s game ended, most liked what they saw.

Toss me into that group, but understand that it’s always a dangerous thing to read too much into what happens or does not happen at a school’s spring football game.

Remember, Christian Matthews had been the star of the previous two spring games but never really did much during either season that followed. Matthews made next to no noise on Saturday so maybe that’s a good sign for the upcoming season. Then again, maybe it’s not.

Anyway, after taking some time to soak up what I saw, here’s a look back at a few quick-hitters that caught my eye from Saturday’s spring game.

Kansas receiver Kale Pick takes off with the ball after a catch during the second half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas receiver Kale Pick takes off with the ball after a catch during the second half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field. by Nick Krug

I really liked what I saw from senior wide receiver Kale Pick. We already knew about Pick’s blocking and how much pride he takes in that. Its effectiveness was on display again during D.J. Beshears’ 28-yard touchdown run on a reverse. But what we had not really seen in the past was what a weapon Pick can be catching the ball. We did Saturday. QBs Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps looked his way a lot and Pick caught everything thrown at him, including the 46-yard flea-flicker completion that wowed the crowd. Now that KU has a strong-armed reliable QB with experience in the pocket, I think Pick’s value and production both will sky-rocket this season.

Kansas receiver Daymond Patterson is pushed out of bounds for an incomplete pass by safety Victor Simmons during the first half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas receiver Daymond Patterson is pushed out of bounds for an incomplete pass by safety Victor Simmons during the first half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field. by Nick Krug

I’ll admit it. I’m guilty. After having him sit out nearly the entire 2011 season, I forgot just how talented senior wide receiver Daymond Patterson was. I was reminded Saturday. Often. Patterson brings a different dimension to the position, a wiggleness of sorts, that’s hard to coach and even harder to coach against. It was awesome seeing DP back out there again, and I’m sure Crist felt the same way.

Speaking of KU’s receivers, the big days from Pick, Patterson and Beshears made me believe that the KU offense will be OK no matter what the NCAA decides regarding sophomore transfer Justin McCay’s eligibility this week. Of course, it would be awesome for KU to have McCay out there — both for the offense and for the young man himself — but if he is not given his hardship waiver and therefore has to sit out a year, KU’s offense will be fine. I’ll feel for McCay, as I do think he deserves the waiver, but the Jayhawks have a lot of weapons in the passing game, with or without him.

Tight end Jimmay Mundine might very well be one of those weapons, and I thought Mundine showed some good things on Saturday. He did also fumble, though, which is pretty much in line with the inconsistency that the young, talented tight end has shown since arriving at KU. It looked like Crist liked Mundine and felt comfortable going to him over the middle, and that certainly will give Mundine a leg up in the race to become KU’s starting tight end. But he didn’t show me enough for me to feel that he’s the clear-cut No. 1. Mundine definitely will have to hold off newcomers Mike Ragone, Charles Brooks and Jordan Smith, and you know each one will be gunning for him. The good news here is, if KU wants to show a couple of two-tight-end sets (which they will, at times), they appear to have the personnel to do so.

Kansas running back James Sims tries to stiff arm defensive end Toben Opurum during the second half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas running back James Sims tries to stiff arm defensive end Toben Opurum during the second half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field. by Nick Krug

Props to junior tailback James Sims for running hard behind KU’s second-string offensive line all day, but the emergence of Marquis Jackson (10 carries, 76 yards and 3 TDs) might signify even more bad news for KU’s former starter, who lost his spot atop the depth chart after an off-the-field incident. Sims is not the kind of guy to sulk or quit, so I was not surprised to see him running hard, trying to prove himself again. But with Tony Pierson ready to explode, Jackson coming on and Brandon Bourbon, Taylor Cox and Tevin Shaw still in the fold, things are awfully crowded at running back for KU, and sitting out three games to serve a suspension to start the season won’t do Sims any good.

Tough to say too much about the play of KU’s defense on Saturday. Sure, they shut down the white squad, almost entirely, but had they not, that would have been bigger news. That said, plenty of people not named Michael Reynolds (3 sacks, 5 tackles) made some plays for the KU D. Junior cornerback Tyler Patmon made a couple of nice pass break-ups, breaking on the ball and timing it perfectly each time. And safeties Bradley McDougald and Lubbock Smith each made their presence known a time or two, as well. I don’t remember Crist or Heaps throwing at senior cornerback Greg Brown. Is that a sign of respect or just coincidence?

Kansas cornerback Tyler Patmon breaks up a pass to receiver Chris Omigie during the first half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas cornerback Tyler Patmon breaks up a pass to receiver Chris Omigie during the first half of the Spring Game on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at Kivisto Field. by Nick Krug

Finally, it was good to see junior place kicker Ron Doherty knock every kick he attempted through the uprights. Doherty was 1-for-1 on field goals and 6-for-6 on PATs. Although he has not had a fantastic spring, he appears to be the starting place kicker, and I doubt he gives up the job.

There’s still plenty to take away from the spring and even more to look ahead to this summer, so be sure to check back with KUsports.com often throughout the next few months as we continue to track and countdown the days to KU’s first season under Weis.

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KU football captains react to new roles

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/photos/2012/03/27/spring_practice_rg_02.jpg

Tuesday night, Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis announced the results of a team-wide vote for this year's captains.

Under normal circumstances, Weis' teams typically have two captains — one for offense and one for defense — but with this year's offensive vote being so close between quarterback Dayne Crist and offensive lineman Tanner Hawkinson, Weis chose to allow both seniors to become captains.

The timing of Weis' decision to select team captains coincides directly with a couple of recent off-the-field issues that led to suspensions or dismissals.

Following Tuesday's practice, all three captains spoke to the media. Here are a few more nuggets from those interviews that did not make today's main story:

Tanner Hawkinson on Dayne Crist:
“He’s worked himself into a position to be a leader of the team. Obviously, you always look at the quarterback position as being a leader and he did a really good job with that. He came in and worked his tail off and people kind of saw that and he slowly gained the respect of the guys.”

Crist on having 3 captains instead of 2:
“It’s great that you can get multiple voices saying the same message. I think that just kind of helps reach out to all the guys on the team, especially with off-the-field stuff.”

Hawkinson on the role of KU’s captains:
“I think we need to be those guys, not only for the young guys to let them know what’s expected, but also for the rest of the team to make sure they’re doing things right.”

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/photos/2011/09/03/ku_fbc_mcneese07.jpg

Toben Opurum on being named a captain:
“It’s really an honor that the guys are confident in me to lead this team, along with Dayne and Tanner.”

Hawkinson on experienced players such as Daymond Patterson, Kale Pick and Bradley McDougald:
“To me, they could easily have been chosen as captains, as well. Just with the experience they’ve had and how they’ve grown over the years.”

Crist on Opurum:
“He and I just very well, just naturally, even off the field. We’ve got a cool relationship and he’s a good guy so it’s nice being around guys like that. We bounce stuff off each other all the time. We bounce stuff off each other all the time and we’re always picking each other’s brains so it’s nice to have a guy on defense as a counterpart that you can kind of go at and talk kind of some upper-level thinking.”

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/photos/2012/04/19/ku_fbc_practice12.jpg

Hawkinson on Opurum:
“Toben’s been great on defense and he’s going to be a great leader for the defense. He’s a great player and a great competitor.”

Opurum on if being a captain for Charlie Weis brings more pressure:
“A bit, but that’s something that I’ve always done naturally. I haven’t had any off-the-field issues and if something’s about to happen I’m usually there to stop it, whether I’m a captain or not.”

Crist on Hawkinson:
“He’s a leader. He’s absolutely a leader on and off the field. A guy who has been here for a while and seen a lot. He’s been through multiple coaching changes and has been a team guy always and I have a ton of respect for him. Obviously, the team feels the same way.”

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/photos/2011/10/16/ku_fbc_ou_jy_002.jpg

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Another look back at Thursday’s early-morning KU football practice

The Jayhawks rush the field as they watch a field goal from kicker Ron Doherty to end practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

The Jayhawks rush the field as they watch a field goal from kicker Ron Doherty to end practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Yesterday, you were treated to an inside look at the way in which Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis conducts himself during a typical practice.

Weis was equal parts intense, funny and genuine and did not seem to hold anything back just because he let the media in for the entire on-the-field practice.

We spent a lot of time yesterday focusing on what Weis looked, sounded and acted like during Thursday’s early-morning practice, but we didn’t give you much of a look at the players themselves.

In order to fulfill the football fix aspect of our day at practice, here are a couple of things that stood out to me:

• Toben Opurum opened the practice working with the linebackers while Michael Reynolds began the practice working with the D-Line. This was no surprise, but it showed just how much of a hybrid the position that these two guys play is. Linebackers coach DeMontie Cross said earlier last week that he and defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt typically work out the plan ahead of time and then they end up splitting time working with Opurum and Reynolds.

Dayne Crist, front right, and the quarterbacks work on handoff drills with running backs during a morning practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Dayne Crist, front right, and the quarterbacks work on handoff drills with running backs during a morning practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

• Quarterbacks Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps might as well have been playing HORSE out there. It was just a small portion of Thursday’s practice and it was more of a showcase for the wide receivers and defensive backs, but still, Crist and Heaps stole at least some of the show. Both have such strong arms and such tall and powerful deliveries that it was a joy to watch them just flick the ball downfield for the receivers and DBs to make a play on it. Tom Keegan spent more time watching this than I did and he said that every deep ball that Crist threw was right on the money. That’s encouraging. What’s not is the number of those deep balls that were dropped. No need to worry too much there, though. For one thing, the wide receiver position is deep and there are plenty of guys who will be given a shot to step up. Two, there’s still plenty of time to practice and work on that stuff, including the entire summer, a time that’s known for helping QBs and pass catchers develop a connection.

• This coaching staff is not messing around with special teams. Clint Bowen is a great special teams coordinator — he had offers to coach that unit in the NFL but turned them down — and he takes a lot of pride in making sure all of the special teams are well drilled and mistake-free. You could see that in the way the entire coaching staff rode the players during special teams drills on Thursday. They expect this to be an area where KU has an advantage every game. What’s more, it looks like they’ll be more than comfortable using first-string guys from the offense and the defense to play key roles on special teams if needed.

• One other special teams note of little surprise: Daymond Patterson, D.J. Beshears, Bradley McDougald and Connor Embree handle most of the punt return reps.

• It really is a thing of beauty to watch Tim Grunhard coach the offensive line. There’s just something about a guy that big who played that position at such a high level teaching these young guys how to do it. Very little of what I saw from Grunhard on Thursday was technical stuff — though we have seen some of that during the early portion of other practices we’ve been to — but it was still cool to watch him stalking the linemen he coaches like a predator waiting to pounce on them if they make a mistake. And, in this case, a mistake could be something as simple as not getting your knees up high enough while warming up. Look, if Ringo Starr came up to me and said I was hitting the snare drum a little too hard, I’d probably pull back. Same kind of deal here.

Offensive line coach Tim Grunhard works with his players during a morning practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Offensive line coach Tim Grunhard works with his players during a morning practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

• This coaching staff is not lacking for energy, but Dave Campo and DeMontie Cross might be the two most energized coaches out there. Clint Bowen and Rob Ianello are right behind them, but it’s tough to beat Campo’s pep and Cross’ bounce.

• The kicking game needs work. Both place kickers, Alex Mueller and Ron Doherty, struggled to make mid-range kicks with very little rush and next to no pressure. That’s not a huge surprise, as neither guy was able to prove he was the clear-cut man for the job last season, but you can bet that this will be an area Weis and company pay close attention to during the offseason. I don’t think they’re interested in giving points away.

• One other thing that stands out when watching this coaching staff in action? Brutal honesty. There were times, after guys did a drill wrong or missed an assignment, where the coaches just flat out said, “Hey, man, you won’t play if you do it like that.” And they’re not afraid to get after guys with some harsh language — as it should be; it’s football — but they don’t ever do it in a way that makes you feel like they’re trying to show anyone up. That’s a good thing in my opinion and can be the difference between guys wanting to bleed and sweat for you or wanting to tune you out. These coaches are hard on these guys but they’re hard on them because they want them to improve not because they enjoy being jerks.

We get one more look at this team on Tuesday (albeit a brief 20-minute look) and then it’s on to the spring game next Saturday.

In case you missed it, here’s the format for the spring game, which figures to be one of the most competitive — and most attended — spring games in years.

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Blow-by-blow account of Thursday’s KU football practice

The morning sky brightens over Memorial Stadium as the Jayhawks watch over special teams practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

The morning sky brightens over Memorial Stadium as the Jayhawks watch over special teams practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis pulled back the curtain on Thursday morning’s practice, allowing members of the media to observe an actual practice for a little more than an hour.

The session began promptly at 6 a.m. and when it wrapped just after 7:15, those in attendance walked away with a better understanding of what Weis’ coaching style is all about.

From the look of things, the first-year head coach who was hired in December did not hold anything back. From honest assessments of individual players’ efforts to an extremely organized practice schedule and eyes that did not miss a single thing in front of him or behind him, Weis ran his team through an hour-long session that started earlier than normal because of the Kansas Relays.

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis laughs with his son Charlie Weis Jr. during a morning practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis laughs with his son Charlie Weis Jr. during a morning practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Here’s a quick blow-by-blow report of how Weis works during KU’s practices:

5:52 a.m.
As a group of half a dozen reporters and photographers hang out by the Memorial Stadium gate waiting for the all clear, Weis approaches on a golf cart. He goes over the logistics of the day’s schedule and takes time to point out the portions that might be most interesting and fun to watch. According to him, that’s the 2-spot drill, in which wide receivers and defensive backs go one-on-one on one end of the field while the linebackers and offensive linemen do a variation on the old “Oklahoma drill” in which the lineman is asked to block the backer long enough for his running back to score. After the quick tips, Weis talks about how he had a sleepless night and kept looking at the clock every hour. He specifically points out that he was wide awake at 2:55 a.m. anticipating the early practice.

6:00 a.m.
Weis: “Go ‘head, Scott.”

The first horn sounds and KU strength coach Scott Holsopple starts screaming. His bark, at this point in time, is tame but plenty loud as he leads the Jayhawks through 12 minutes or warm-up running and stretches.

6:06 a.m.
One member of the media arrives at the southwest gate a little late. Explicit instructions were handed out weeks ago and on them it stated that anyone arriving after 6:00 would not be let in. As one KU media relations staff member decided to allow entry to the tardy party, Weis, from around midfield, throws his arms into the air and then looks down at his watch. The man sees everything.

6:12 a.m.
Three minutes of team warm-ups. It’s a shorter, faster version of the stretching and involves more stuff like sprinting over bags and around cones. As the action unfolds around him, Weis stands right in the thick of it, screaming, “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go,” and “Gooood morning. Wooooooo.”

6:16 a.m.
From the middle of the field, Weis keeps his head on a swivel and takes in all of the position drills. At one point, while watching the linebackers work on dropping into pass coverage, Weis gets on linebackers coach DeMontie Cross for the way he’s throwing the errant passes.

“Is this the bad ball drill,” Weis asks, not expecting an answer. “That’s what it looks like to me.”

Cross’ passes improve.

6:22 a.m.
Another horn marks the beginning of another drill, this one takes a little more time to set up and, although he’s not the one throwing the cones down onto the field, Weis is orchestrating the whole thing.

“The ball’s on the 25 so set the cones up there (points to the 20).”

When a little confusion sets in, a manager attempts to move the cones.

“No, the cones are right. Come on.”

Two minutes later, the drill begins. “We ready to roll,” asks Weis, a hint of displeasure over the wasted minutes leaking through.

6:25 a.m.
During the Oklahoma drill, Weis stands between the two groups and turns his body to watch each side go. Good comedy comes from this, as Weis has plenty of commentary for plenty of players, most of it brutally honest.

“That’s easy to do when you weigh 150 pounds more than him,” Weis tells senior offensive lineman Duane Zlatnik after a pancake block on linebacker Huldon Tharp.

“Come on, Marquis. Run with some power,” he tells wide-receiver-turned running back Marquis Jackson after Jackson’s first turn carrying the ball.

Later, to one of his staff members, he bluntly states, “Do me a favor with the match-ups so we don’t have to have him in there. It’s a waste of breath.”

Finally, after a less-than-impressive effort by an offensive lineman, Weis yells, “You’re probably the best towel-waver in the place. I’ve heard you’re really good at that.”

Most of the rest of what Weis says cannot be printed.

6:30 a.m.
Weis stops the Oklahoma drill to instruct. This takes all of 30 seconds but is critical in his eyes and it’s clear that he would’ve spent 3 minutes or 30 minutes if it were necessary. It wasn’t.

6:31 a.m.
Back into the drill.

6:33 a.m.
Another horn sounds and Weis shifts to special teams drills. The Jayhawks spend the rest of the practice working on special teams. This includes kickoff and punt return, kickoff and punt coverage and field goals.

The field goal kickers had a rough day, missing quite a few. Weis is not pleased. After one miss, the KU coach barks, “You’ve got one job to do. Put it through the uprights. Don’t gimme close.”

6:40 a.m.
Although practice is now in the hands of his assistant coaches — special teams coordinator Clint Bowen is running the drills but nearly every other assistant coach is very hands-on during the process — Weis still controls the show. As he walks slowly toward the action from the far sideline, his booming voice fills the empty stadium that now is partially lit by stadium lights and partially lit by the rising sun.

Dayne Crist, front right, and the quarterbacks work on handoff drills with running backs during a morning practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Dayne Crist, front right, and the quarterbacks work on handoff drills with running backs during a morning practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

6:45 a.m.
Punt return. Senior Daymond Patterson lets a punt get past him and hears about it. “I know it’s a knuckle ball, Daymond, but you still gotta get back,” Weis says.

6:45 a.m.
“Good coverage, McCay,” Weis shouts toward sophomore wide receiver Justin McCay, who stops in his tracks and is unsure of whether he should run over to his coach or run off to the other sideline to fall in line. Weis repeats himself, McCay nods and then sprints to the other sideline.

6:47 a.m.
“Let’s Gooooooo,” Weis bellows, clearly agitated by the fact that the next group is not ready in a timely manner.

7:09 a.m.
It’s time for the final drill, a field goal kick with no line and no rush. Kicker Ron Doherty, long snapper Justin Carnes and holder Blake Jablonski are called to the 34-yard line at the north end of the stadium. As Jablonski sets in his spot, Weis stands three feet away. Talk about pressure. It’s a 44-yard field goal with nothing on the line, but it means everything. As Doherty goes into his routine, Weis calls timeout to ice him. Doherty’s teammates laugh hysterically.

7:13 a.m.
A few minutes later, Doherty’s back out there. No timeout this time. Just a kick. And a miss. The KU players were ready to rush their kicker in celebration but the miss sends them back to the sideline. Doherty makes the next one and a mini-celebration ensues. Not good enough, Weis says.

“When you win a football game, there’s supposed to be a celebration that looks like a celebration,” he screams. “And that was a pile of crap. I believe in practicing everything, including winning. That’s what this is all about. This isn’t about you guys jacking around over here, this is about third game of the season, you’re sitting here 2-0, you’re playing TCU, you haven’t won a conference game in eight years and you hit a field goal to win the game. Act that way.”

7:15 a.m.
With Weis’ words fresh in their minds, the team watches Doherty’s next kick with a little extra interest. Doherty makes the kick and a full celebration follows. Doherty is dog piled near the spot where he kicked the ball, water bottles are emptied onto his head and the Jayhawks form a tight circle and jump up and down celebrating the mythical victory.

Next practice: Tuesday.

Kicker Ron Doherty gets a bath from Tyler Patmon (33) and others following a made field goal to end practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Kicker Ron Doherty gets a bath from Tyler Patmon (33) and others following a made field goal to end practice on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

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Shot put participants look back on last year’s event at the Kansas Relays

Journal-World sports editor Tom Keegan had a chance to catch up with several of the men competing in today's shot put event (6 p.m. on 8th Street between Mass and New Hampshire) in downtown Lawrence, which kicks off the 85th edition of the Kansas Relays.

Here are a few clips from Keegan's conversations with the men who will set downtown on fire in less than 90 minutes.

Cory Martin talks about the Lawrence nightlife after last year's shot-put event.
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Ryan Whiting talks about the possibility of college towns as hosts of downtown shot-put events.
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Former OU basketball and track and field standout Kevin Bookout discusses the difference between the 2 sports.
http://twitpic.com/9bdn3p

Shot putter Dan Taylor talks about the atmosphere at last year's downtown event.
http://twitpic.com/9bdknk

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Five reasons why KU WR Justin McCay should feel good about his chances of getting a hardship waiver from the NCAA

Receiver Justin McCay, a transfer from Oklahoma, listens as his teammates answer questions on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 at the Anderson Family Football Complex.

Receiver Justin McCay, a transfer from Oklahoma, listens as his teammates answer questions on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 at the Anderson Family Football Complex. by Nick Krug

The NCAA, as a whole, often is viewed a cold and cruel entity.

And while that may be true in terms of areas like exploiting student-athletes or chasing down the almighty dollar at any and every opportunity no matter how big or small, those are both topics for another blog.

For this blog, it seems more appropriate to view the most popular governing body in college athletics as a big, cuddly teddy bear. Because in recent cases like the one the NCAA will hear today for Kansas University wide receiver Justin McCay, the NCAA more often than not has shown great compassion in granting hardship waivers to transfers in need of getting closer to home.

McCay, you no doubt know by now, is the former Bishop Miege High standout who went to Oklahoma after high school but recently elected to leave OU to transfer to Kansas in an effort to get closer to his family and hometown.

There are reasons that McCay needed to do this, but they’re both private enough and important enough for KU coaches Charlie Weis and Tim Grunhard (who coached McCay in high school) to refrain from talking about them and OU coach Bob Stoops to happily grant McCay a release from the Sooners.

What the reasons are do not matter. That they exist is the only thing that’s important. And judging by what little Weis and Grunhard have said about McCay’s situation, it appears as if the 6-foot-2, 215-pound wideout has plenty of reason to believe that he will be next in line to be granted the waiver for immediate eligibility. A ruling could come as soon as today and should come down no later than Thursday.

Transfer receiver Justin McCay breaks through a line of defenders to catch a pass during practice on Tuesday, April 10, 2012.

Transfer receiver Justin McCay breaks through a line of defenders to catch a pass during practice on Tuesday, April 10, 2012. by Nick Krug

While we wait, here’s a quick look at five cases similar to McCay’s in which a student-athlete was granted the hardship waiver and allowed to play immediately upon transferring to his new school, which, in every case, was closer to his hometown.

• DB, JOSH SHAW, USC
Five days ago, Shaw’s waiver was granted by the NCAA after a long and drawn-out waiting process much like the one McCay has endured since transferring to KU in January.

Shaw, the USC defensive back who transferred from Florida, was granted a hardship waiver after the NCAA reviewed his case, which involved his ailing father and grandfather and the need to be closer to their Palmdale, Calif., home to help run the family business.

"We were optimistic the whole time, but it took so long," Shaw told ESPN.com. "So we were like, 'Man, why is it taking so long?'”

• QB, BARRY BRUNETTI, OLE MISS
Last April, the former West Virginia quarterback, with a little help from WVU coach Bill Stewart, received an eligibility waiver from the NCAA that made him eligible at Ole Miss for the fall of 2011.

Despite being in good shape to compete for the starting job at WVU, Brunetti, who is from Memphis, elected to join the crowded QB mess at Ole Miss and, therefore, appealed to the NCAA to waive the transfer rule because he wanted to be closer to his mother, who was still recovering from injuries related to a car accident. Memphis is about 90 miles from Oxford, Miss.

Brunetti received the waiver and completed 19 of 35 passes for 144 yards during the 2011 season.

• C, DASHONTE RILEY, EASTERN MICHIGAN
One minute, DaShonte Riley was walking off the floor in a Syracuse uniform after the Orange had fallen to Butler in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The next, he was suiting up for Eastern Michigan and former Syracuse assistant Rob Murphy at Eastern Michigan in his home state.

Riley was granted a hardship waiver because of his concerns about health issues that plagued both of his grandparents. He initially wanted to transfer in January of 2011, but waited until June at the request of his mother, who wanted to make sure they took all of the proper steps. By December, his waiver was approved and the 7-foot center was suiting up for EMU.

"We are thankful to the NCAA for granting Da'Shonte the waiver for him to become eligible for competition right away," Murphy said in a statement. "Da'Shonte transferred to EMU so he could be closer to his family in a difficult situation. I'm happy that he is able to give his family the support they need."

• WR, JAMEEL OWENS, TULSA
This one may represent the best reason McCay should have high hopes.

During the summer of 2010, Tulsa wide receiver Jameel Owens learned that his waiver request had been granted by the NCAA despite the fact that he was asking to transfer from Oklahoma University, in nearby Norman, Okla., to Tulsa, just down the highway.

Owens requested the waiver so he could be closer to his mother, who was dealing with serious health issues.

Here’s a statement from then-TU football coach Todd Graham, shortly after Owens’ request was approved.

"We're excited for Jameel and his family. He's been through a tough time this past year and it's good to see this happen for the young man," TU coach Todd Graham said in a statement. "Jameel has done a great job since he's been here at the University of Tulsa."

• G, JAKE KELLY, INDIANA STATE
The following is part of a press release from Indiana State in October 2009, following the news that Kelly’s request for a hardship waiver had been granted.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced today that the year-in residence requirement for junior transfer Jake Kelly has been waived due to his extraordinary personal circumstances.

Kelly is eligible to play immediately for Indiana State after transferring from Iowa after the 2008-09 academic year.

“I am really happy for Jake and his family that the NCAA is going to allow him to play this year,” Indiana State head basketball coach Kevin McKenna said. “This decision will mean a lot to his close friends and family. I think that this is really going to help him and his family with the healing process. The ability to have his mind on school, basketball and our team while playing will be the best thing for him.”

In making this decision, the NCAA released the following statement:

The NCAA staff has granted Indiana State University’s request to waive the year-in-residence requirement for its men’s basketball student-athlete Jake Kelly. Mr. Kelly’s previous institution, University of Iowa, was supportive of this waiver request. The waiver, which will allow Mr. Kelly to compete immediately, was granted based on his extraordinary personal circumstances. The chronology of events supported his transfer to a university that will allow him to be closer to his family.

The NCAA has established a waiver process and criteria to address unique situations and extenuating circumstances that are not outlined in our rules. Each situation is reviewed carefully on a case-by-case basis with the interest and well-being of all student-athletes in mind.

“This process was very professional and handled well by the NCAA,” McKenna said. “We also owe a lot to our compliance department for the way that they took care of this waiver request and handled it in an extremely efficient manner. The NCAA had enough information that they were able to take into account Jake’s personal well being and make the correct, informed decision.”

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What the James Sims suspension means for KU football

Kansas running back James Sims rushes against Northern Illinois on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back James Sims rushes against Northern Illinois on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 at Memorial Stadium. by Richard Gwin

I’ve never been accused of being a doom-and-gloom kind of guy. More often than not, people say I’m a little too sunshine and rainbows.

And while that might not have much relevance for you in terms of everyday life, I think it’s important to share that before I give you my thoughts on what the James Sims suspension means for Kansas University football.

First off, I don’t think Sims' suspension will be crippling for the program. Sure, the Jayhawks for three games will be losing their top rusher from the past two seasons and the one guy on the roster who has proven to be reliable both in terms of moving the pile and hanging on to the football. But depth is plentiful at running back for Kansas, and there are four guys behind Sims who can, and likely will, use this as a chance to shine and move into a more prominent role in the Jayhawks’ offense.

For Sims, the outlook is not as sunny. And that stinks. In just about every way possible, Sims is a great young man. He’s polite, well spoken, respectful and genuine in every sense of the word. He made a mistake. People do it. But few people pay for their mistakes the way Sims will for his.

Three games might not seem like that many, especially for a junior who still will have at least 21 games to play after his suspension is lifted following the TCU game in Lawrence this fall. But this is not about sitting out of three games. This is about trust and a new coaching staff and missed opportunities. And it starts today.

With KU coach Charlie Weis — remember, he’s also the offensive coordinator — now operating with the knowledge that Sims will not be available for the first three games of the 2012 season, it’s entirely likely that Weis’ practice routine will reflect that. Maybe not so much during the final nine spring practices, when Sims and sophomore Tony Pierson will be the only healthy backs in camp, but definitely when August rolls around and Brandon Bourbon is full strength and reinforcements Taylor Cox and Tevin Shaw are on campus.

You can’t blame Weis for this. What coach in his right mind would give practice reps to a guy he can’t even use for the first three games of the season? The answer is no one, and it becomes NO ONE — all caps — when you’re talking about a coach at KU, which simply cannot mess around with must-win, non-conference games.

So that puts Sims at the bottom of a big hole looking up and without much of an opportunity to climb his way out. I have no doubt that the young man will be a model student-athlete from this point on. I’m sure he’ll do everything in his power — and then some — to prove to his coaches and teammates how sorry he is for the mistake he made. That’s admirable. It will help. And it says a lot about who James Sims is as a person. As for who James Sims is as a college football player? Sadly, we may already know the answer to that. He may go down as one of just a few bright spots during two terrible seasons of Kansas football.

There are, of course, alternative outcomes to this story. Some of them even feature Sims returning to his spot in the KU backfield and continuing to use his size, strength and vision to carve out yardage. But based on one bad decision, whether we get to that point or not no longer is up to Sims. He’ll play again if the other backs ahead of him fumble too often or can’t stay healthy. If not? He might be done.

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In This Corner: A quick look at the starters for tonight’s NCAA championship game

With tip time now less than six hours away, it's time to start highlighting tonight's national championship game between Kansas and Kentucky and looking at how these teams match up on paper.

Here's a quick look at each team's five starters...

The Kansas starting five relax on a golf cart while waiting to be shuttled to breakout interviews on Sunday, April 1, 2012 at the Superdome.

The Kansas starting five relax on a golf cart while waiting to be shuttled to breakout interviews on Sunday, April 1, 2012 at the Superdome. by Nick Krug

KANSAS JAYHAWKS (32-6)
No. 2 seed Midwest Region

• Tyshawn Taylor, 6-3, guard
Bio: The man who makes KU's offense go one of the best guards to come through Kansas during the Bill Self era. Taylor's lightning quick first step and ability to create good looks for teammates all over the floor makes KU a tough team to defend. Most nights, he'll give you as much good as bad but he always gives everything he has. 

Season stats: 16.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 48% FG, 68% FT

NCAA tournament: 12.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 40% FG, 55% FT

• Elijah Johnson, 6-4, guard
Bio: Has developed "Mr. Big Shot" reputation during the past handful games and has played the most aggressive and confident basketball of his KU career when it has mattered most. Mixes great athleticism and ability to get to the rim with a good three-point stroke, making him a tough matchup for opposing defenses.

Season stats: 10.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 43% FG, 70% FT

NCAA tournament: 13.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 51% FG, 43% FT

• Travis Releford, 6-6, forward
Bio: Quiet, smooth an a tough defender, Releford has the kind of all-around game that makes him a candidate to impact the game in any area on any night. Typically draws the defensive assignment on the opponent's best offensive wing player and has enough size and quickness to be effective down low or on the perimeter.

Season stats: 8.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 50% FG, 64% FT

NCAA tournament: 8.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 44% FG, 64% FT

• Thomas Robinson , 6-10, forward
Bio: KU's emotional leader and most dangerous offensive player. A beast on the block and fueled by power, Robinson also has enough range and quickness to hurt opposing defenses away from the paint. As a likely lottery pick in the June's NBA Draft, Robinson appears to be playing his final game as a Jayhawk.

Season stats: 17.7 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 51% FG, 68% FT

NCAA tournament: 15.8 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 38% FG, 67% FT

• Jeff Withey, 7-0, center
Bio: The protector of the paint, Withey makes life difficult for opponents by blocking shots and altering several others. Withey has played some of his best basketball of the season during the tournament and his presence inside has taken a lot of the pressure off of Robinson.

Season stats: 9.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 55% FG, 79% FT

NCAA tournament: 8.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 56% FG, 74% FT

Kentucky head coach John Calipari responds to a question about his thougts on meeting Bill Self and the Jayhawks again in the national title game during a press conference on Sunday, April 1, 2012 at the Superdome.

Kentucky head coach John Calipari responds to a question about his thougts on meeting Bill Self and the Jayhawks again in the national title game during a press conference on Sunday, April 1, 2012 at the Superdome. by Nick Krug

KENTUCKY WILDCATS (37-2)
No. 1 seed East Region

• Marquis Teague, 6-2, guard
Bio: Ranked as Rivals.com’s No. 5 player in the class of 2011, Teague has been Kentucky’s least-efficient option offensively. He makes just 44 percent of his twos and 31 percent of his threes, though he does average a team-high 4.8 assists per contest. The freshman also is a bit turnover-prone, leading UK with 107 giveaways.

Season stats: 9.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 41% FG, 72% FT

NCAA tournament: 13.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 49% FG, 78% FT

• Doron Lamb, 6-4, guard
Bio: Great shooter who doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. Lamb especially excels from the outside, where he’s made 47 percent of his long-range shots. A good free-throw shooter who has just 43 turnovers in UK’s 39 games.

Season stats: 13.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 47% FG, 83% FT

NCAA tournament: 15.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 54% FG, 72% FT

• Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 6-7, forward
Bio: The No. 3-ranked player in Rivals.com’s class of 2011, Kidd-Gilchrist is an athletic small forward who does a bit of everything for the Wildcats. He’s dangerous on the offensive glass and also draws a lot of opponent fouls, ranking second on Kentucky with 188 free-throw attempts. Was named South region most outstanding player.

Season stats: 11.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 49% FG, 75% FT

NCAA tournament: 12.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 54% FG, 76% FT

• Terrence Jones, 6-8, forward Bio: The highly touted forward has quietly improved his game after being named SEC freshman of the year a season ago. Jones is a good defender, as he’s second on the team in both blocks and steals. Like Kidd-Gilchrist, he attacks the offensive glass and has a habit of drawing fouls and getting to the line.

Season stats: 12.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 50% FG, 63% FT

NCAA tournament: 12.0 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 50% FG, 50% FT

• Anthony Davis, 6-10, center Bio: Named by numerous publications as national player of the year, Davis is most known as an intimidating defensive presence. He leads the nation with 180 blocks and rejects 14 percent of opponents’ two-pointers while he’s in. Offensively, the ultra-athletic Davis is best in transition where he can use his long wingspan and leaping ability. He’s made 67 percent of his twos this year, which illustrates the fact that most of his shots are high-percentage ones.

Season stats: 14.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 64% FG, 71% FT

NCAA tournament: 15.2 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 62% FG, 76% FT

Confetti flies as members of the basketball band perform during a parade around the French Quarter on Sunday, April 1, 2012 in New Orleans.

Confetti flies as members of the basketball band perform during a parade around the French Quarter on Sunday, April 1, 2012 in New Orleans. by Nick Krug

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Weis releases Spring Depth Chart for KU football

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Here’s a quick look at the pre-spring Kansas University football depth chart released today by new KU coach Charlie Weis.

Weis said the depth charts are very fluid and made it clear that this first edition was made without seeing a single practice. It’s clear by looking at it that past experience and seniority played a role in putting this one together.

With the first of 15 spring practices getting under way today, effort and ability will begin to factor in.

OFFENSE:

LT Tanner Hawkinson, 6-5, 295, Sr.
Chad Kolumber, 6-6, 318, Soph.

LG Duane Zlatnik, 6-4, 311, Sr.
Damon Martin, 6-3, 295, RS-Fr.

C Trevor Marrongelli, 6-3, 300, Sr.
Dylan Admire 6-3, 277, RS-Fr.

RG Gavin Howard, 6-4, 292, Jr.
Luke Luhrsen, 6-3, 305, RS-Fr.

RT Riley Spencer, 6-6, 305, Jr.
Bryan Peters, 6-3, 302, RS-Fr.

TE (Y) Jimmay Mundine, 6-2, 240, Soph.
Trent Smiley, 6-4, 248, Soph.

WR (X) Kale Pick, 6-1, 205, Sr.
Justin McCay, 6-2, 215, Soph.
Chris Omigie, 6-4, 202, Jr.

WR (Z) Daymond Patterson, 5-8, 178, Sr.
D.J. Beshears 5-9, 185, Sr.
JaCorey Shepherd 5-11, 185, Soph.

F (21) Nick Sizemore 6-0, 238, Jr.
Ed Fink 6-2, 237, Soph.

HB James Sims, 6-0, 202, Jr.
Tony Pierson, 5-10, 170, Soph.
Brandon Bourbon, 6-1, 220, Soph.

QB Dayne Crist, 6-4, 235, Sr.
Jake Heaps, 6-1, 208, Jr.

F (11) Beshears
Marquis Jackson, 6-0, 218, Soph.

F (12) Smiley

Y (10) Pick
Christian Matthews, 6-1, 200, Jr.

DEFENSE:

DE Keba Agostinho, 6-3, 275, Jr.
Ben Goodman, 6-3, 248, RS-Fr.

NT Shane Smith, 6-5, 292, Jr.
Randall Dent, 6-4, 305, Jr.
John Williams, 6-3, 298, Jr.

DT Pat Lewandowski, 6-6, 248, Soph.
Julius Green, 6-5, 265, RS-Fr.
Kevin Young, 6-3, 277, Jr.

DE Toben Opurum, 6-1, 245, Sr.
Josh Richardson, 6-4, 235, Sr.

SAM Tunde Bakare, 5-10, 205, Sr.
Michael Reynolds, 6-1, 220, Soph.

MIKE Darius Willis, 6-3, 243, Jr.
Tyler Hunt, 6-2, 226, Sr.

WILL Huldon Tharp, 6-0, 220, Jr.
Collin Garrett, 6-0, 210, Soph.

CB Tyler Patmon, 5-11, 180, Jr.
Dexter Linton, 5-10, 201, Jr.

SS Lubbock Smith, 5-10, 197, Sr.
Ray Mitchell 6-1, 185, Soph.

FS Bradley McDougald, 6-1, 210, Sr.
Victor Simmons 6-1, 201, Soph.

CB Greg Brown, 5-10, 185, Sr.
Chris Robinson, 5-9, 170, RS-Fr.
Corrigan Powell, 5-10, 174, Sr.

SPECIALISTS:

PK Alex Mueller 5-8, 162, Soph.
Ron Doherty 5-11, 215, Jr.

P Doherty
Victor McBride 6-1, 204, Jr.

LS Tanner Gibas 6-1, 196, Soph.
Justin Carnes 6-1, 241, Jr.

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5 things to focus on while waiting for spring football

Fans watch the Kansas football spring game from a trial version of the renovated Touchdown Club in the south end zone at Memorial Stadium.

Fans watch the Kansas football spring game from a trial version of the renovated Touchdown Club in the south end zone at Memorial Stadium.

It might be dangerous to say, but it looks as if we’ve reached the point where fans and followers of Kansas University football finally can exhale.

It’s been a whirlwind couple of months, and there’s little doubt that everyone certainly can use a moment to recharge.

From the firing of Turner Gill in late November to the hiring of Charlie Weis in mid-December and the filling of Weis’ coaching staff and first recruiting class that followed, news has been flying out of the Anderson Family Football Complex at an unprecedented pace.

With all of that behind us and national signing day now a distant memory, it’s time to catch your breath and get ready for the next chapter — spring practice.

We’re still several days away from the start of spring drills — opening day is March 27 — and we’ve got most of March Madness to get to before we get to that point. But with the news slowing down and things getting relatively quiet around the football complex, here’s a quick look at the program’s most interesting offseason attractions.

Kansas football coach Charlie Weis talked to the media on Wednesday about his first recruiting class at KU.

Kansas football coach Charlie Weis talked to the media on Wednesday about his first recruiting class at KU. by Richard Gwin

Conditioning. There’s no question that this is the area fans will want to know most about during the next few weeks. Early returns suggest the Jayhawks have been treated to an entirely new way of thinking in the weight room this winter. Led by new strength coach Scott Holsopple, the players have been pushed like never before and most of them, at least most of the time, seem to have loved the results. Twitter is abuzz with posts about being worn out, bigger than ever and flat-out frightened for the next workout session. All are signs of an offseason gone right.

Defense. What type of defense are the Jayhawks going to play? 4-3? 3-4? Some type of hybrid? We’re probably a little closer to knowing the answer now that defensive coordinator Dave Campo has had a chance to look at film and spend some time with his new players. But we probably won’t have a true answer until the spring, when Campo and company can get these guys on the field and see them move. Don’t bother peeking into Campo’s past for a hint. He’s played plenty of both and is comfortable with either.

Offense. Weis knows what he wants to run and, to some extent, he has the players in place to do it. Might as well get to it. While a good chunk of Turner Gill’s first spring in Lawrence was spent becoming familiar with new terminology, you can bet Weis will have a lot of that done in meeting rooms and mandatory homework assignments prior to stepping onto the turf.

Tracking the transfers. We know nothing will be official until these guys graduate in May. Heck, Weis told us that much. But that doesn’t mean we are going to stop trying to crack the code of who these future fifth-year transfers could be. “Multiple,” which Weis referenced during a recent news conference, seems to indicate a lot. The guess here is that the number will be around five and will include a defensive lineman, a linebacker, a wide receiver and a tight end.

Recruiting the next class. There’s been a lot of excitement and hype around the Class of 2012, and rightfully so. But in college football, recruiting never stops and if Weis and Co. were able to put a respectable class together in a little more than a month, it should be fun to see what they can do with an entire year.

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KU’s Steven Johnson shows well at NFL Combine

Kansas linebacker Steven Johnson runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, Feb. 27, 2012.

Kansas linebacker Steven Johnson runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, Feb. 27, 2012. by Associated Press

After waiting all morning for his time to take the turf, Kansas University linebacker Steven Johnson, a senior from Media, Pa., who is participating in this year's NFL Combine in Indianapolis, finally got the chance to show his skills to the scouts early this afternoon.

Although Johnson underwhelmed in a couple of areas, he turned in solid performances in all of the agility tests and ran a respectable 40-yard dash time.

There seems to be some discrepancy (there always is) about the actual time. NFL.com earlier reported it at 4.65 but has since changed that number to a 4.78. A couple of other sites continue to list the faster time as Johnson's best.

None of the times are official, we usually don't get those until a day or two later when they're released by a scout.

Here's a quick look at Johnson's day:

- 40-YARD DASH -
Johnson ran a solid 4.65-second 40-yard dash time on his first attempt. Good start, smooth run, strong finish.

In his second run, Johnson's time dipped to 4.73 seconds, which is not that far from the 4.65 but a far cry from the 4.5 he was hoping to run.

Still, Johnson's 4.65 went down as the 12th fastest 40 time among all linebackers in Indianapolis. Solid showing.

- VERTICAL JUMP -
Johnson, 6-foot-2, 239 pounds, was what NFL.com calls a "top performer" in the vertical jump, as well, as he turned in a leap of 36 inches, good for ninth best among all linebackers at the Combine.

- BENCH PRESS -
Johnson had hoped to finish with 20 reps or higher in the bench press, which measures how many consecutive times the athletes can lift 225 pounds. He finished just shy of that mark, with a total of 16 reps. Not bad, but not great.

- BROAD JUMP -
Johnson did not test real well in the broad jump, finishing with a top leap of 113 inches or 9 feet, 4+ inches.

The broad jump, for those who don't know, is basically a standing long jump, where the participant starts with two feet planted and jumps out as far as he can. He has to stick the landing for it to count.

- THREE-CONE DRILL -
Johnson's time of 7.32 seconds was the second fastest of all linebackers in attendance according to NFL.com's official combine site.

This is not a surprise, as Johnson never was the biggest, fastest or strongest player but always found a way to use his natural instincts and ability to get to the ball. While some of the other numbers may have hurt him a little, this should help him tremendously.

- 20-YARD SHUTTLE DRILL -
Johnson continued to perform well in the agility tests with a 4.38-second time in the 20-yard shuttle drill. This was the third fastest time among all linebackers at this year's combine and continued to show that Johnson is good on his feet and uses his body control to his advantage.

- 60-YARD SHUTTLE DRILL -
Pretty much the same news here, as Johnson's time of 11.93 was the third fastest reported time among linebackers at this year's combine.

It should be noted that not all of the linebackers in attendance participated in all of the drills. Johnson did, though, and likely will do the same when he returns to Lawrence to participate in KU's pro day on March 14.

Look for his focus between now and then to be on dropping that 40 time and improving his bench press number. All of his other results most likely helped him in the eyes of the NFL scouts.

Kansas linebacker Steven Johnson runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis on Monday, Feb. 27, 2012.

Kansas linebacker Steven Johnson runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis on Monday, Feb. 27, 2012. by Associated Press

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Big 12 releases football schedules for 2012; KU home for 4 and away for 5

http://www2.kusports.com/photos/2006/nov/18/111370/

With West Virginia's divorce from the Big East becoming official this morning, the Big 12 Conference was free to release its much anticipated football schedules for the 2012 college football season.

The Kansas University program will open and close 2012 with the two Big 12 newcomers, as the Jayhawks are scheduled to face TCU on Sept. 15 in Lawrence in the season's first conference game and West Virginia in Morgantown, W.Va., on Dec. 1 in the regular season finale.

Kansas' schedule also includes home Big 12 games against Oklahoma State (Oct. 13), Texas (Oct. 27) and Iowa State (Nov. 17).

In addition to traveling to WVU, the Jayhawks will go on the road to face Kansas State (Oct. 6), Oklahoma (Oct. 20), Baylor (Nov. 3) and Texas Tech (Nov. 10).

KU's schedule, which oddly features two bye weeks (Sept. 29 and Nov. 24), also includes non-conference foes South Dakota State (Sept. 1) and Rice (Sept. 8) at home, as well as a trip to Northern Illinois on Sept. 22, one week after the TCU match-up and one week before the first bye.

Here's a look at the complete schedule. No kickoff times have been set as of today.

Date Opponent

Sept. 1 - SOUTH DAKOTA STATE

Sept. 8 - RICE

Sept. 15 - TCU

Sept. 22 - at Northern Illinois

Sept. 29 - Bye

Oct. 6 - at Kansas State

Oct. 13 - OKLAHOMA STATE

Oct. 20 - at Oklahoma

Oct. 27 - TEXAS (Homecoming)

Nov. 3 - at Baylor

Nov. 10 - at Texas Tech

Nov. 17 - IOWA STATE

Nov. 24 - Bye

Dec. 1 - at West Virginia

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Report: West Virginia, Big East reach settlement, clear the way for WVU to join Big 12 in 2012

According to a report from the Charleston Daily Mail, West Virginia University and the Big East Conference have reached a settlement in their ongoing dispute over the Mountaineers' desire to leave the Big East and join the Big 12 Conference.

If you've been following along at all, you know that the dispute has not been over WVU's desire to leave but instead over its desire to leave before the 27-month waiting period required by the Big East. The same rules may keep Syracuse and Pitt in the conference for longer than those schools would like, as they have reached an agreement to join the ACC.

Here's a link to the article, which has lots of good information and cites a couple of anonymous sources.

http://www.dailymail.com/News/breakingnews/201202090205

The gist of the news is that the Big East will receive a $20 million departure penalty from West Virginia on its way out the door. According to the article, WVU will pay $11 million of that and the Big 12 Conference, which will receive similar settlement money from SEC-bound schools Texas A&M and Missouri, would pay the remaining $9 million to complete the deal.

One report, from Orangebloods.com, cited a source saying that the Big 12's portion of the $20 million WVU would pay to the Big East would be a loan that WVU would pay back in full over time.

Why would the Big 12 be willing to cover nearly half of WVU's penalty? Simple. The sooner the league can get West Virginia into the fold, the sooner the league can move forward with plans for 2012-13, which includes nailing down the football schedule for the upcoming season, one of the most critical issues the conference currently is dealing with because of the importance of having a stable and complete league in place for the Big 12's television contracts.

Sources have said that even though nothing has been released to the media or the public, the Big 12 already has provided its TV partners with a tentative schedule that includes West Virginia and the schedule could be released as soon as today.

Here's the breakdown of how the Big East reached the $11 million dollar figure it will get from WVU:

• $5 million for the Big East exit fee
• $5 million to cover Boise State's buyout from the Mountain West Conference (the Broncos have agreed to join the Big East in 2013 but may be swayed to join sooner)
• $1 million as part of its obligation as a future Big 12 school

Although the Big 12 is paying the remainder of the buyout (for now) as a league, the total was reached by the Big East and Big 12 agreeing on roughly $1 million per school in additional exit fee money. Evidently, that money will come from the buyouts that the Big 12 will receive from A&M and Missouri.

There has been no official word on what Texas A&M and MU will pay the Big 12 as their exit penalties, but past reports indicated the amount could be as high as $20-$30 million.

With Step 1 now out of the way and WVU free to leave the Big East, the next step is waiting for the release of the 2012 football schedules.

Stay tuned...

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Rise and Sign: KU football inks 15 players expected plus a couple more, including Tampa linebacker Schyler Miles

4:53 p.m. Update:

And here's a link to the full audio, if you want to listen...

http://www2.kusports.com/podcasts/press_conferences_postgame_interviews/2012/feb/01/ku-coach-charlie-weis/

4:27 p.m. Update:

Here's a solid player-by-player mini recap from KU head coach Charlie Weis at today's news conference.

Weis talked about the 2012 recruiting class — among other things — for more than an hour on Wednesday afternoon. We'll have much more from what he said in the next few days.

One other quick note worth pointing out — Earlier today I mentioned that KU ranked last in the Big 12 according to Rivals.com's rankings of this year's recruiting classes. A readjusted ranking now has KU one spot higher, as the Jayhawks vaulted ahead of Iowa State. Obviously that's not Earth-shattering news, but it's interesting to note.

Here's this for now... Enjoy!

Kansas football coach Charlie Weis talked to the media on Wednesday about his first recruiting class at KU.

Kansas football coach Charlie Weis talked to the media on Wednesday about his first recruiting class at KU. by Richard Gwin

12:16 p.m. Update:

Couple of quick notes before I sign off for a bit to get some food and get ready for Coach Weis' 2 p.m. press conference. It's definitely going to be fun to hear him talk about all of these kids who signed today.

• I got solid confirmation that all 17 guys on our list have, in fact, sent in their letters today. That brings KU's Class of 2012 to 20 (counting Crist, Heaps and McCay) and they're probably in line to add at least one or two more.

• Just saw somewhere that Carlos Lozano, offensive lineman from East Los Angeles College, has committed to Utah. Not a huge surprise... Seemed like KU had fallen out of the mix.

• Finally, I'll leave you with a quick look at the Rivals.com rankings for the Class of 2012. In terms of national rankings, KU does not crack the Top 50, according to Rivals. And when clicking on the Big 12 rankings, KU comes in ninth out of nine (West Virginia not included).

A couple of things to note about the ninth-place standing in the league. For starters, KU is one of just two schools in the Big 12 (Iowa State) without a four- or five-star recruit. That'll hurt the ranking. Second, KU has the smallest class of the bunch, which also hurts the ranking.

If you look at the average "stars" column in the rankings, though, you'll see that KU's average of 2.87 is actually ahead of K-State (2.84) and Iowa State (2.76) and isn't that far behind any of the others except for Oklahoma (3.52) and Texas (3.63).

In addition, the rankings do not include the late additions of Schyler Miles and Nas Moore, so it's possible KU could move up a spot, but even that is not likely.

Here's the link so you can scan it for yourself...

http://rivals.yahoo.com/footballrecruiting/football/recruiting/teamrank/2012/BIG12/all

Stay tuned...

11:17 a.m. Update:

Jayhawks land Tampa, Fla., linebacker Schyler Miles — 6-2, 220-pound, three-star linebacker from Berkeley Prep in Tampa.

Miles chose KU over Florida and West Virginia and will go down as one of the biggest recruiting gets in quite some time for the Jayhawks. It's not every year that the KU program could even think about beating out the Gators or even the Mountaineers for a marquee player, particularly when that player resides in one of those states.

Credit Weis, his relationship with Miles and the addition of defensive coordinator Dave Campo for the decision.

More to come, but, clearly, this is HUGE news for the KU football program and particularly the defense.

Updated List of NLI's Sent In Today:
• Greg Allen, CB
• Courtney Arnick, LB
• Turner Baty, QB
• Brian Beckmann, OL
• Charles Brooks, TE
• Sean Connolly, OL
• Taylor Cox, RB
• Josh Ford, WR
• Tyler Holmes, DL
• Ty McKinney, DL
• Schyler Miles, LB
• Nas Moore, CB
• Tre Parmalee, WR
• Jordan Smith, TE
• Keon Stowers, DL
• Jordan Tavai, DL
• Tyree Williams, CB

Already Signed and On Campus:
• Dayne Crist, QB
• Jake Heaps, QB
• Justin McCay, WR

Still waiting for news on East Los Angeles College offensive lineman Carlos Lozano, but sources are saying that the 6-8, 360-pound monster of a man is down to Washington State and Utah and will not come to Kansas. Nothing official yet, though.

Stay tuned...

10:39 a.m. Update:

Here's a Baty pic from signing day and I just saw a report that said juco All-American running back Taylor Cox was headed to the fax machine to send in his letter.

Stay tuned...

10:27 a.m. Update:

With Ford and Brooks officially in, might as well have someone throw them the ball.

City College of San Francisco quarterback Turner Baty just Tweeted that he had signed and faxed his letter of intent to Kansas.

In case you missed it, here's my story from yesterday on Baty committing to KU.

We're now down to Taylor Cox, RB, and Nas Moore, CB, both California guys. After that, everything KU gets today — if anything — will be a surprise and new.

Stay tuned...

10:16 a.m. Update:

Scottsdale (Ariz.) tight end Charles Brooks and Arizona Western WR Josh Ford become the first KU commitments from out west to make it official. Both letters have been signed and faxed to KU.

Brooks, the basketball-player-turned-tight-end, said he weighs 238 pounds right now, but he's hoping to get into that 245-250 range before he arrives on campus in June.

Ford, known for his great speed (4.4, 40-yard dash) and length, 6-4, 190, has the chance to impact KU's unproven receiving corps right away.

Here's film on both guys along with an updated list, as we're now up to 13 official and are still waiting on Turner Baty, Taylor Cox and Nas Moore, along with whoever else might decide to join the Jayhawks today.

Charles Brooks film, No. 85:

Josh Ford film, No. 8:

Updated List:
• Greg Allen, CB
• Courtney Arnick, LB
• Brian Beckmann, OL
• Charles Brooks, TE
• Sean Connolly, OL
• Josh Ford, WR
• Tyler Holmes, DL
• Ty McKinney, DL
• Tre Parmalee, WR
• Jordan Smith, TE
• Keon Stowers, DL
• Jordan Tavai, DL
• Tyree Williams, CB

Still waiting on:
• Turner Baty, QB
• Taylor Cox, RB
• Nas Moore, CB

Stay tuned...

9:56 a.m. Update:

As those West Coast guys make their way to the fax machines, I thought I'd update you on the progress of Tampa, Fla., LB Schyler Miles. If I wrote this in an earlier update, my apologies.

Reports have indicated that Miles will announce his decision at Noon, eastern time, today. Obviously, that's 11 a.m. Kansas time, so we're just about an hour away from hearing where the three-star prospect might end up.

Before you get your hopes up, Florida remains the most likely destination for Miles, but there's been real talk that he likes Kansas and has been seriously considering the Jayhawks.

Adding Miles would be a huge get for KU in this class, partially because the kid can flat-out play and partially because KU has just one other linebacker committed in the Class of 2012 (Dallas, Carter High LB Courtney Arnick).

If the Jayhawks don't land Miles, that's not a sign that the sky is falling. Obviously the coaching staff evaluated things and didn't see linebacker as a major area of need for this class... plus, there's always the possibility that some of those future transfers that Weis talked about adding in this class could play linebacker as well.

Bottom line, you should be hoping for Miles and there's a realistic shot. But it's not the end of the world if he picks Florida instead of Kansas.

Stay tuned...

9:26 a.m. Update:

We're up to 11 officially signed now and waiting on at least 5 more, with East Los Angeles College cornerback Nas Moore now in the fold.

Updated List:
• Greg Allen, CB
• Courtney Arnick, LB
• Brian Beckmann, OL
• Sean Connolly, OL
• Tyler Holmes, DL
• Ty McKinney, DL
• Tre Parmalee, WR
• Jordan Smith, TE
• Keon Stowers, DL
• Jordan Tavai, DL
• Tyree Williams, CB

Still waiting on:
• Turner Baty, QB
• Charles Brooks, TE
• Taylor Cox, RB
• Josh Ford, WR
• Nas Moore, CB

Most of those, if not all, should be no problem. All of them are West Coast guys so that could explain the "delay," if you can even call it that. It's still only 9:26 a.m. here, which makes it 7:26 a.m. out west.

Should be hearing from those guys very soon.

Stay tuned...

9:13 a.m. Update:

El Camino CC defensive tackle Jordan Tavai makes it official and signs with Kansas.

This is huge news for the Jayhawks, as many analysts believe Tavai, 6-3, 280, has the skills and motor to step in and play right away.

Although he committed to KU last Sunday night, I've heard that several coaches from other schools tried hard to get him to change his mind.

Officially, Tavai chose Kansas over Texas Tech, Washington State and Hawaii.

We're up to 11 officially in now. Stay tuned...

9:00 a.m. Update:

Two more officially committed now: Trinity Valley CC DL Ty McKinney and Carter High (Dallas) LB Courtney Arnick.

Waiting to hear on the official fax from Nas Moore. Here's the updated list, followed by some more video. We're up to 10 officially signed, sealed and delivered.

Updated List:
• Greg Allen, CB
• Courtney Arnick, LB
• Brian Beckmann, OL
• Sean Connolly, OL
• Tyler Holmes, DL
• Ty McKinney, DL
• Tre Parmalee, WR
• Jordan Smith, TE
• Keon Stowers, DL
• Tyree Williams, CB

Courtney Arnick video, No. 85:

Stay tuned...

8:54 a.m. Update:

JayhawkSlant.com just reported that Nas Moore, a 6-0, 190-pound cornerback with no rating from East Los Angeles College, has said he will sign with KU today.

Moore, a teammate of ELAC offensive lineman Carlos Lozano, who KU also is targeting, brings needed depth and experience to KU's secondary. This definitely qualifies as one of those big surprises people were hoping for.

Looking for more... videos, photos, info, etc.

Stay tuned...

8:41 a.m. Update:

One of the funniest things about signing day is how people forget about time zones in the heat of the moment.

For instance, I've been up and at it since 6 a.m. and I feel like I've played out a whole day already. Meanwhile, on the West Coast, it's just now 6:30 and guys are getting up and prepping to send their letters off around 7 a.m. (their time), which is obviously around 9 a.m. our time.

Just got this note from El Camino CC defensive tackle Jordan Tavai from California: "I'm so excited!! And I'll just announce the winning school that has the grand prize of Jordan Tavai, around 7:20 this morning."

That, of course, means 9:20, Kansas time, so expect something in the next 40 minutes or so.

Tavai committed to KU last Sunday night, but has taken the process hard and has continued to say he has a lot on his mind. I'd be surprised if it's not KU since he went ahead and committed, but this one is definitely not a slam dunk. And if he does in fact sign with Kansas at 9:20, that could be the biggest news of the day so far.

Stay tuned...

8:26 a.m. Update:

Waco, Texas, tight end Jordan Smith just confirmed that he has sent his letter to KU and that he officially is a Jayhawk.

I asked him what the first thought was that went through his mind after seeing that the fax machine had verified his transaction and he summed it up in a few simple words.

“Amazing. I can’t believe it really happened,” he said.

Smith, 6-3, 240, is another one of KU’s newest players who committed to the Jayhawks with the old staff and decided to stick it out after meeting Charlie Weis and Co.

“I love it up there, the people are great,” Smith said of Lawrence and the KU campus. “It’s kind of like an extension of Waco to me. It’s not too big, and, from what I’m hearing, everything revolves around Kansas, whether it’s football or basketball, and that’s really important to me.”

Although the firing of Turner Gill made Smith a little uneasy about his commitment, he kept an open mind throughout the process and was determined to wait and see who KU hired to replace Gill before he made any decisions.

As things went on and Smith followed the coaching search from afar, he found himself hoping against this guy or that guy for one reason or another. When he finally found out who KU had hired, he was blown away.

“I don’t think I could’ve gotten any luckier,” he said.

Stay tuned...

Updated List:
• Greg Allen, CB
• Brian Beckmann, OL
• Sean Connolly, OL
• Tyler Holmes, DL
• Tre Parmalee, WR
• Jordan Smith, TE
• Keon Stowers, DL
• Tyree Williams, CB

Jordan Smith video, No. 13:

8:14 a.m. Update:

Updated list of the letters that have arrived:

Greg Allen, CB
Brian Beckmann, OL
Sean Connolly, OL
Tyler Holmes, DL
Tre Parmalee, WR
Keon Stowers, DL
Tyree Williams, CB

We're about halfway there. Much more to come!

Stay tuned...

8:11 a.m. Update:

Georgia Military College defensive lineman, Keon Stowers, has signed and faxed his letter to the KU campus. He just sent me this photo of the big moment. Lookin' sharp with that suit and the KU cap.

Stay tuned for more on Stowers...

For now, here's a quick look at some of his film.

Keon Stowers video, No. 99

8:05 a.m. Update:

Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College tight end Charles Brooks is about to enter new territory — big time college football.

Despite being listed as one of the top five juco TEs available in this year’s class, the game itself is still pretty new to Brooks, who is the latest out of the Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates mold to give up his first love of basketball to try to make it on the football field.

So far, it seems to be working, and Brooks, who said today’s signing would not be accompanied by any fan fare because he’s still out in Arizona, said he was very excited about the idea of playing for Weis.

“The offense that coach Weis runs, he throws the ball around a lot and he’s got three or four tight ends who are in the NFL right now,” Brooks said. “He does a good job with the tight end position and allows them a lot in the offense.”

Gifted with good size, good speed and great athleticism, Brooks calls himself a receiving tight end who likes to stretch the field.

One of his favorite pro players to watch is Jacksonville TE Marcedes Lewis, but the Scottsdale prospect admitted that he almost exclusively watches the tight end position every time he’s watching a game.

Charles Brooks video, No. 8 (during prep days near St. Louis):

Brooks is expected to sign and fax his letter over around 8 a.m. Waco, Texas TE, Jordan Smith, also is expected to sign around that time. Big hour for tight ends!

Stay tuned...

7:58 a.m. Update:

Tyler Holmes, defensive end from Sachse High near Garland, Texas becomes the fifth new Jayhawk to get his letter to Lawrence.

7:47 a.m. Update:

Add another one to the list.... Blue Valley West offensive lineman Brian Beckmann, who committed to KU last summer, has made it official.

Beckmann video, No. 74:

List of those LOI's in as of this update:
Greg Allen, CB
Brian Beckmann, OL
Sean Connolly, OL
Tre Parmalee, WR

Stay tuned...

7:39 a.m. Update:

JayhawkSlant.com is reporting that Greg Allen, a cornerback from Houston's Alief Taylor High, has faxed his letter in to KU's coaching staff.

Allen told me earlier this week that he would have a signing ceremony at his school at 10 a.m., but, like most do, it seems that he made sure to get the official letter in as early as possible so that he could let out that big sigh of relief.

Allen, as you know, switched his commitment from Utah to KU. I've been told that the 5-11, 190-pound corner has the skill set to get on the field early.

Here's an interesting look at some of Allen's speed stats: http://speedrank.net/user/239

Stay tuned...

7:19 a.m. Update:

Word is Tre Parmalee's letter of intent has reached campus. That makes two official commitments, as the Bishop Miege wide receiver joins Ohio offensive lineman, Sean Connolly, as the first to get their letters to KU.

Parmalee video, No. 5:

Tyler Holmes expected to sign at 7:45 a.m. and Ty McKinney sometime between 7 and 8.

Stay tuned...

6:44 a.m. Update:

The next known group of KU prospects expected to sign includes a pair of defensive linemen and a local wide receiver.

Ty McKinney, of Trinity Valley CC and Tyler Holmes of Sachse High in Garland, Texas, both bring depth and talent to a position of great need and Bishop Miege High wide receiver Tre Parmalee brings speed.

McKinney’s signing day story is the best of the three. When I asked him the other night why guys like to sign and fax their letters so early, his answer was priceless:

“So you can be in the media, so coach can talk about you in his press conference,” he said.

Gotta love that answer. And, indeed, once KU and head coach Charlie Weis receive the letters, Weis is able to talk about these guys as much as he wants. He has a news conference scheduled for 2 p.m. this afternoon when he will do just that.

As for this trio of signees, McKinney, 6-3, 310, decided to join the Jayhawks during the transition from former coach Turner Gill to Weis. The biggest reason for that was the relationship he formed with Buddy Wyatt.

“That was exactly why,” McKinney said. “No ifs, ands or buts about it. “I like how, right now, he’s always checking in with me. He already wants the best out of me and I’m not even there yet.”

McKinney video, No. 57:

As for Holmes, he comes with a ton of talent and confidence. He is expected to sign at an all-school ceremony that will be attended by his mother and sister. He said he was the only football player at his school who would sign with a Div. I program today. And he could not be more ready.

“It’s been hard waiting,” he said. “And I’m ready for it to happen. I’m ready to get signed and get up there and take somebody’s job, man.”

An expected graphic design major who compares himself to Pittsburgh Steelers manchild James Harrison (without the illegal hits), Holmes said he could play inside or outside on the D-Line but would prefer to stay inside.

At either spot, he says power and not necessarily speed is what helps him be successful.

“It’s mainly strength,” he said. “Once I get my body turned into them, it’s a downhill pass rush.”

Holmes, who also does track in the spring, said he plans to get up to the 295-300-pound range before arriving at KU in June.

Holmes video, No. 94:

As for Parmalee, the son of former NFL player Bernie Parmalee, he’s expected to sign this morning to make it official and then will participate in Miege’s celebration in the school gymnasium.

“I’m looking forward to joining the Jayhawk family, connecting with the coaches and players, and can’t wait to get on the field and help my team win games,” he said.

Next up: The 8 a.m. group of juco tight end Charles Brooks and prep tight end Jordan Smith, from Waco, Texas.

Stay tuned...

6:13 a.m. Update:

Connolly is now official. He just sent me a text that said he had signed and was faxing the letter of intent to KU.

Next up: Tre Parmalee, Ty McKinney and Tyler Holmes, all expected to sign around 7 a.m.

Stay tuned...

6:06 a.m. Update:

It’s not official, but Ohio offensive lineman Sean Connolly may have the distinction of being the first member of the Class of 2012 to get his letter faxed into the Kansas University coaching staff.

Chalk that up to his home sitting in the Eastern Time Zone.

Connolloy, a 6-foot-7, 290-pound offensive tackle from St. Edward High in Lakewood, Ohio, is expected to fax his letter to the KU football office by 6:10 a.m. CST.

It’s time to rise and sign.

Welcome to the 2012 edition of the KU football signing day blog. Throughout the morning, we’ll do our best to keep you abreast of the signings as they roll in, and we’ll also bring you little tidbits of information about KU’s recruits as well as whatever breaking news may occur during the course of the day.

During the past few days, I’ve reached out to all 15 members of the Class of 2012 who are expected to sign at some point today. I heard back from most of them and those I did talk to were more than happy to share their stories and excitement about signing with the Jayhawks.

Take Connolly, for instance. The two-star prospect comes from what can only be described as an offensive lineman factory. His junior year, when Connolly stood 6-7 and weighed 260 pounds, four members of his team’s offensive line went on to sign with Div. I schools. Connolly didn’t mind watching and learning from them.

“I was in no shape or way ready to play major Ohio football yet,” he said. “So this offseason I just dedicated myself and I wanted to be the left tackle for this team.”

It worked. Thirty pounds and several reps later, Connolly became the starter, opposite five-star right tackle Kyle Kalis, who is headed to Michigan.

Connolly has been called a late bloomer by many. He has a theory as to why.

“The reason they probably want to call me a late bloomer is I really haven’t had that much experience in football,” he said. “I didn’t play my seventh and eighth-grade years because I wanted to focus on basketball.”

Connolly initially was looking at Akron, when new KU assistant coaches Rob Ianello and Ron Powlus were still working there. Things changed quickly, once Weis was hired.

“I know coach Powlus and coach Ianello from Akron and I really liked Akron,” Connolly said. “When they went to Kansas, I’m sitting there going, ‘Wow. That would be cool.’ And it all just worked out.”

Connolly’s father went to Notre Dame, so when Sean was younger and they rooted for the Fighting Irish together, Notre Dame was coached by Weis. Now, once that letter arrives, Connolly will be the one who’s coached by Weis.

The next wave of letters is supposed to roll in starting around 7:00 a.m.

Stay tuned...

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Realignment heats up once again, as Big 12 expansion committee schedules teleconference to talk Louisville and BYU

1:21 p.m. Update:

Talked to a couple of Big 12 administrators in the past couple of hours and found out a few things to follow up on all of this supposed hot talk regarding realignment.

For starters, today's teleconference is nothing out of the ordinary. It's been scheduled for a while now and is merely an indication that the Big 12 is doing everything possible to stay out in front of things this time.

As one source put it, "That committee is going to stay in tact for at least the next decade... It’s going to think and talk and think and talk, but it doesn't necessarily mean anything's happening."

Another source told me flat out: “We’re not in expansion mode.”

Meanwhile, a couple of folks I talked with at KU said the committee is constantly in contact with representatives from all members of the Big 12 and the committee is well aware of how KU and the rest of the institutions feel about expansion.

Couldn't find out for sure who was on the Big 12's expansion committee but I know it's a list of around 5 people and it includes Texas AD DeLoss Dodds, Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione and a couple of university presidents or chancellors from schools other than OU and Texas. I want to say Iowa State and Baylor may also be involved.

As for the West Virginia news, still trying to track down more on that, but I'd say if the Big 12 seriously is going to have its 2012 football schedules released by next week, that would be a good sign that WVU is going to be in the Big 12 next year.

I'll make a few more calls and see what else is out there, but, at least for now, it seems like the expansion news may have been a little overblown. Shocking, isn't it?

Stay tuned...

11:08 a.m. Update:

Serious conference realignment talk regarding the Big 12 Conference appears to be back on the table, although it’s unclear at this point to what extent the expansion talk may or may not be reaching.

Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News Tweeted this morning that he had confirmed that a Big 12 teleconference of the league’s expansion committee would take place sometime today. That call will be the first since league officials last met to finalize plans to admit West Virginia into the league.

The general consensus now — as it was then — is that Louisville and BYU remain at the top of the Big 12’s wish list. While that may be true, it doesn’t change the fact that many of the concerns that prevented the Big 12 from moving forward on this months ago still exist.

Louisville appears to be a sitting duck in all of this, and it’s possible that it’s just a matter of time before the Cardinals join the league. As many of you probably know, many Louisville coaches recently were telling recruits that they would be in the Big 12 very soon. That’s a bold statement and it certainly makes sense. The biggest problem for Louisville continues to be finding a suitable partner to join the league to prevent the Big 12 from having to move forward with an odd number. Although 11 worked for the Big Ten for years, sources have said that many in the Big 12 would prefer to avoid having 11 teams and would ideally like to move back to 12 or be content staying put at 10.

Here’s a link that discusses the idea of adding Louisville:
http://chronicle.com/blogs/players/big-12-conference-reopens-expansion-talk/29477

One possible reason the Big 12 could consider moving ahead with a serious look at Louisville would be the ramifications such a move would have in the Big East. With the battle still raging to set West Virginia free, another blow to the Big East’s current lineup certainly would make a move for WVU more feasible.

As for BYU, certain issues remain here, as well — travel, play on Sundays and the ability to move seamlessly into a new league without penalty chief among them — but it has been believed all along that BYU would be a solid pick up for the Big 12 because of its national brand and impressive standing in the major revenue sports.

While the latest buzz surrounding Big 12 expansion has centered around Louisville and BYU, another report — actually, a blog — surfaced recently regarding possible interest between the Big 12 and a handful of unhappy ACC schools.

Here’s a link to that blog, for your perusal:
http://www.eerinsider.com/2012-articles/january/big-12-to-target-acc.html

You should know that KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger told me yesterday that he had not heard a thing about the ACC talk.

In addition, it should be noted that many of those same ACC schools included in the blog above have been linked to expansion rumors in the SEC.

That’s a quick view of what’s happening now. We’ll have more as this story develops.... if it develops.

Stay tuned...

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Former KU quarterback Brock Berglund issues statement saying KU won’t grant release

Update from KU:

A KU spokesperson said university officials had no comment because the matter is pending an appeal. A decision is expected in the next week or so.

Original Post:

The following is the press release drawn up by the attorney for former Kansas University quarterback Brock Berglund, who was dismissed from the team by KU coach Charlie Weis on Monday for missing a mandatory team meeting.

Berglund, a freshman from Highlands Ranch, Colo., emailed the release to about a dozen media members.

Brock Berglund Seeks Official Release from University of Kansas Football Program After Initial Denial

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Colorado Springs, CO. January 19, 2012 — The University of Kansas (KU) football program has a new coach, Charlie Weis, and several high-profile transfers from other programs. Fortunately for KU, schools such as Notre Dame, BYU and Oklahoma have released incoming KU transfers, quarterback Dayne Crist, quarterback Jake Heaps and receiver Justin McCay, from their respective commitments to those programs.

Unfortunately for Brock Berglund, KU, however, has refused to extend the same courtesy.

Berglund, a freshman, was heavily recruited out of high school, and accepted a scholarship to KU in 2010, primarily because of the bond formed between him and then-coach Turner Gill during the recruiting process. Gill assured Berglund that his quarterbacking skill set was a perfect fit for the KU offense, and that he expected Berglund to compete for the starter's role right away. However, KU terminated Gill and his staff at the end of the season, and hired Charlie Weis as its head coach.

Shortly thereafter, Weis successfully landed his high-profile transfers -- all of whom he had previously recruited out of high school when he was head coach at Notre Dame. In December, 2011, Berglund was informed during a short conversation with new quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus that Crist, the Irish's former starting quarterback, would start for the KU football team in 2012, and that Berglund was only competing for the backup quarterback position. Given the change in coaching staffs and offensive philosophies, and the abrupt demotion, in December 2011, Berglund requested permission from KU to enable him to speak with other Division I-A football programs about a possible transfer.

Without KU's permission, NCAA rules prohibit any contact between Berglund and other Division I-A programs, effectively precluding the player's ability to explore any other potential opportunities prior to considering a transfer.

Despite the information communicated by Coach Weis, Berglund’s written request to KU made clear that it was “simply a request to communicate with other coaches and [was] not intended to alter [his] status as a University of Kansas student athlete in any way.”

What ensued was a six-sentence response letter from Theresa Becker, Associate Athletics Director at KU, which not only denied Berglund’s request to communicate with other coaches but made clear that, while he had not even asked, Berglund would not be released from his commitment to the KU football program. Specifically, Becker stated that:

“[i]n consultation with Dr. Sheahon Zenger, Director of Athletics for the University of Kansas, we are denying your request for permission to have contact with another university regarding your decision to transfer. Additionally, your request to be released from the University of Kansas is also denied.”

The balance of Becker’s letter informed Berglund that he had three business days to appeal KU’s decision to the KU Student-Athlete Appeals Board (SAAB). No reason for the denial or other information was contained in Becker’s response letter.

Berglund has consulted with an attorney, Vince Linden, regarding KU’s decision and has informed KU that he intends to appeal the denial of his request. Linden confirmed that KU has scheduled an appeals hearing before the SAAB, but stated “beyond that, we have no information regarding the basis for KU's decision. Neither the coaching staff nor the administration have provided any information or criteria upon which they based their decision."

Due to the scheduled appeal hearing, and because his attendance may have subjected him, pursuant to strict NCAA requirements, to complete an additional academic semester at KU, Berglund did not attend a mandatory team meeting last Sunday, but informed KU in advance of the meeting that he would not be in attendance. However, Berglund was dismissed from the team by KU and Weis on Monday, reportedly for failing to attend the Sunday meeting. Berglund learned about his dismissal, not from Weis or anyone else at KU, but via Twitter and internet media outlets, which reported that during Weis' press conference he personally introduced his new high-profile quarterback transfers and announced certain "dismissals" from the team -- including Berglund.

KU scheduled Berglund's SAAB appeal hearing after Weis' press conference, signaling that the athletic administration still intends to defend its denial of Berglund's request.

No further explanation or justification of KU's decision has been offered since its initial written denial.

Berglund plans to follow the required appeal procedure and hopes that KU will reconsider its decision and allow him the same opportunity which the KU football program accepted from the athletic administrations at Notre Dame, BYU, and Oklahoma -- the opportunity for a fresh start.

His attorney, Linden, is cautiously optimistic and wrote:

"The SAAB's inquiry will focus on whether the decision was fair and just given the circumstances. Any objective observer, shown all the facts, will know that the decision was not only unfair, but was arbitrary and capricious, and should be overturned. It will be very interesting to hear KU's explanation, particularly in light of the fact that it so gleefully courted players who were granted releases from their own respective programs, and wished the best of luck by their former coaches."

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Charlie Weis Era officially under way

Kansas head football coach Charlie Weis talks with media members on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 at the Anderson Family Football Complex. Weis introduced new members of his football team and also announced players that have left the program.

Kansas head football coach Charlie Weis talks with media members on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 at the Anderson Family Football Complex. Weis introduced new members of his football team and also announced players that have left the program. by Nick Krug

Today marked the first day of workouts for the Kansas University football team under the new coaching regime, and, by all accounts, it started bright and early and was as intense as anything the players had seen in quite some time.

New KU strength and conditioning coach Scott Holsopple — not new coach Charlie Weis — was the man in charge of today’s events, and, according to many of the players, Holsopple and his staff turned up the intensity a notch or two compared to what the Jayhawks were used to.

As Weis mentioned during his news conference on Monday, Holsopple will be one of the most important men in the KU program during the next few weeks. He’ll be the one coach who has direct contact with the players, and, if that contact is anything like Weis has promised it will be, the next few weeks are going to be brutal.

Early morning runs, intense workouts, weight-lifting marathons — all with a no excuses mentality.

It’s still early in the process, but a quick scan of Twitter this morning revealed just how Day 1 of the Charlie Weis era went.

Here’s a look:

Sophomore DE, Keba Agostinho - 8:27 a.m.
Done with 1st day of workouts n all I can say is it's bout to get REAL around here!!

Junior DE, Toben Opurum - 8:59 a.m.
Can't wait to get back in my bed lol

Freshman DE, Ben Goodman - 8:24 a.m.
Our workout was long... Damn near 2hrs #timetogethuge

Junior WR, D.J. Beshears - Mid-day
Today was a wake up call ,,, back to reality !

Senior WR, Daymond Patterson - Pre-workout
I'm ready to workout time needs to speed up

Sophomore WR, Chris Omigie - Mid-day
New semester rules for C.O..... class > sleep

Freshman LB, Ben Heeney - Early evening
First workout with the new coaches went good sore as a mug #teamswoll

Sophomore WR, Andrew Turzilli - Early evening
First workout with the new staff #complete

Sophomore WR, Erick McGriff - Mid Evening
u ever been so tired u fell aslp sending a txt #bodybag #kufball

I know that's a small sample size, but in everything from realization and dedication to a change in attitude, it appears as if the Charlie Weis Era is off to a solid start.

I'm sure today was only the beginning.

Stay tuned...

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