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All-Big 12 preseason picks due Friday; will any Jayhawks make the list?

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A colleague and I had a little discussion the other day about which Jayhawks we could include on our Big 12 Preseason Football Media Ballots without making a mockery of the process.

It was a pretty long discussion for such a short list.

There have to be a few all-conference-type players on KU’s roster. There’s no doubt in my mind. Each year during the past decade or so, KU has had at least a couple of guys who you could have made a case for on this team. The problem with those players was the overwhelming competition they faced from players at the 11 other schools.

The problem with this year’s group is that they’re largely a bunch of unknowns. Is it possible to envision a postseason all-Big 12 team that has two or three Jayhawks on it? Absolutely. Is it easy to pinpoint who those players are or might be and, furthermore, is it even conceivable to put them on the preseason squad? Not exactly.

Take Chris Harris for example. Harris has three things going for him entering the 2010 season. He’s a senior, he’s experienced and he’s had plenty of big games in the past while wearing a KU uniform. Isn’t it possible, then, to see how Harris, should he have the best year of his career, could wind up on the all-Big 12 squad when December rolls around? Sure. Think 80+ tackles, six or seven picks and a surprise season from the Jayhawks, say 7-5 or 8-4. If Harris has those type of stats on that type of team, he could be an all-conference pick. But I just can’t justify putting him on there until he does it. And I can’t imagine many other media members will be able to either.

As for the Jayhawks I could see putting on the preseason team — and just might before Friday’s deadline — here’s the list of the guys we came up with. Feel free to add to the list if you’ve got a compelling case for someone we left out.

Tanner Hawkinson, left tackle: Hawkinson may very well be the player voted most-likely-to-make-an-NFL-roster on this year’s team. He’s got great size and physical tools, is a superb athlete with good feet and has yet to fully realize his potential as an offensive lineman. But he did a great job of protecting Todd Reesing’s blind side and will be counted on to take even better care of the new KU QB, whoever it is. This league — in particular OU and Texas — has some serious talent at the offensive line position, so cracking the Top 5 is tough, but Hawkinson’s in the conversation.

Jake Laptad, defensive end: Honorable mention all-Big 12 during the last two seasons, Laptad has the potential to be a disruptive force on KU’s defensive line. He won’t be able to do it without some help, though. Unless the Jayhawks find at least a couple of other defensive linemen capable of putting pressure on opposing QBs, Laptad will face a lot of double teams this year and that will neutralize the player who recorded 6.5 sacks and 6 QB hurries in 2009 and has 13.5 sacks in the past two seasons combined.

Tim Biere, tight end: After a productive spring, Biere appears to be poised for a breakout season, especially when considering that he’ll be playing in a brand-new, tight-end-friendly offense. Biere’s a good pick here because he’s got good skills, is reliable and fearless and benefits from a lack of talent at the position throughout the rest of the league.

Daymond Patterson, punt returner: DP has the skills to be among the best in the league. The problem with putting him on the team is, (a) we don’t know for sure if he’ll get a shot to return punts and (b) he may become too valuable at wide receiver for the Jayhawks to allow him to.

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