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LJWorld.com weblogs Tale of the Tait

Six KU football players with breakout potential

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With the Kansas University football team in the middle of its bye week, we’ve spent the past few days looking back at what we learned from the first four weeks of the 2012 season.

From strengths and good moments to weaknesses and disappointments, I’ve tried to look at just about every angle that’s relevant with this year’s team.

At 1-3, the results on the field have been disappointing for most people, but it seems clear that several Jayhawk fans have been able to see the progress this team has made. They’ve been more competitive, played harder, played longer and taken obvious steps forward.

Of course, the fact that the Jayhawks are making progress does not mean that they have made it. And no such analysis about that progress should be mistaken for any of us saying that we believe this team is where it needs to be.

There’s still plenty of work to be done, and, it’s my belief, that we’ll see even more progress by the end of the season, even as the competition gets tougher week in and week out.

With that in mind, here’s a quick look at six KU players who I think will help make the next eight games even better for the Jayhawks, with breakout performances the rest of the way.

Kansas receiver Andrew Turzilli pulls in a deep pass as TCU cornerback Jason Verrett dives in for the tackle during the third quarter, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas receiver Andrew Turzilli pulls in a deep pass as TCU cornerback Jason Verrett dives in for the tackle during the third quarter, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

1. Andrew Turzilli — The sophomore wide receiver already has made some noise this season, but the No. 1 receiver job on this team remains open and Turzilli has the perfect blend of size, speed and drive to grab it. He’s as good a deep threat as the team has and has shown improvement with some of the intermediate routes. The next step is to become the reliable, tough-as-nails, over-the-middle option.

2. James Sims — Tough to call Sims a breakout candidate since he’s led the team in rushing during each of the past two seasons. But, since he missed the first three games because of suspension, Sims qualifies. And if his performance against Northern Illinois is any indication of what’s to come, Sims is in store for a big final eight games. He’s faster, more explosive and looks more motivated than ever.

3. Michael Reynolds — Reynolds was anointed as the next defensive star after the spring game, but hasn’t done much since then. He’s had some good moments in a couple games, but has not been on the field enough to function as the dominant pass rusher he has the potential to be. The KU defense needs his speed on the field and I’m guessing he knows that and will find a way to earn more trust from his coaches so he can stay out there more often.

4. Jimmay Mundine — Through four games, the sophomore tight end has just four catches, 44 yards and a touchdown. There’s much more to be had there, and KU’s tight ends have consistently gotten open throughout the first four games. If Crist can get a little more comfortable, he should be able to work the middle of the field regularly and Mundine, who has great size, speed, power and athleticism, should benefit tremendously.

Kansas tight end Jimmay Mundine (41) makes a grab near the goal line during Kansas' game against TCU Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas tight end Jimmay Mundine (41) makes a grab near the goal line during Kansas' game against TCU Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 at Memorial Stadium. by John Young

5. Tre’ Parmalee — KU’s receivers have been pretty disappointing through the first four weeks of the season. Part of that has been the inconsistency of QB Dayne Crist and the other part has been their inability to get good separation and make plays. The longer that goes on, the more likely Weis will be to give other guys a shot. One of those could be Parmalee, who already has worked his way onto the field on special teams and could be a huge asset in the passing game. His one-cut-and-go style could be just what this offense needs.

6. Jordan Tavai — The junior-college transfer who arrived later than expected has impressed during the first four games. He’s been active in rushing the passer and done a decent job stuffing the run, as well. The one thing he has lacked has been consistency, as he’s been great at times and disappeared at others. I’m expecting that to change as Tavai continues to get into better game shape, with the good moments becoming more consistent and the bad moments showing up less often.

Kansas defensive lineman Jordan Tavai pressures TCU quarterback Casey Pachall during the second quarter, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas defensive lineman Jordan Tavai pressures TCU quarterback Casey Pachall during the second quarter, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

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