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What caught my eye at Day 12 of KU football's fall camp


KU's defensive backs work on a fumble recovery drill with DBs coaches Scott Vestal and Dave Campo at Monday morning's practice.

KU's defensive backs work on a fumble recovery drill with DBs coaches Scott Vestal and Dave Campo at Monday morning's practice. by Matt Tait

*Note: Day 11 of fall camp was Sunday but it was not open to the media, that's why this blog skips from Day 10 to Day 12.*

It looked like Medicine Ball Monday out at the KU practice fields this morning, as three different position groups used different sizes of medicine balls during pre-practice drills.

The offensive linemen used them to practiced what appeared to be cut blocks; the defensive backs used them to simulate getting off blockers and scooping up fumbles; and the linebackers used them for what looked like some kind of footwork drill.

This morning marked the start of Day 4 of five scheduled two-a-day practices and it was another incredibly pleasant morning weather-wise. With temperatures expected to climb back into the 90s throughout the week, these guys are going to have their hands full in terms of dealing with the heat. Some years 90s would sound good in August but this year that's going to seem like the 100s since we've been working with 70s and 80s throughout the month.

Today also begins the final week of fall camp, with the Jayhawks scheduled to finish up camp on Friday and then move into heavier preparation for the upcoming season, which is now less than three weeks away. As most of you surely know, the Jayhawks have one of their two byes on the opening weekend of college football, so while many teams are preparing for Aug. 31 openers, Kansas is getting an extra week.

Hard to believe how soon that will be here.

Enough about that, though, here's a quick look at a couple of things that caught my eye this morning. Coach Charlie Weis has his final fall camp press conference at 11:45 a.m. today so check back throughout the day for all kinds of updates and information. I'm not sure and I'm certainly not holding my breath but it's possible that we'll get an updated version of the depth chart today.

• There was no music at this morning's practice. Instead, Coach Weis got on the players about bringing the energy themselves. It sounded like there was some kind of reason for keeping the hip-hop/rap lyrics out of the air waves this morning but I didn't quite catch it. Either way, the guys responded to their coach's instructions with some chanting, screaming and singing of their own. Offensive lineman Gavin Howard broke into “Hakuna Matata” (and this isn't the first time I've heard him do that) and O-Line coach Tim Grunhard fired up the group with his version of “Do-Wa-Ditty.” The linebackers even did a little barking back and forth between the players and their coaches. It wasn't quite the same as Jay Z or 2 Chainz but it seemed like they made it work.

• Offensive lineman Pearce Slater was not out there while I was in attendance. Slater missed this weekend's scrimmage because he had to return to California for a family emergency of some sort. There have been all kinds of rumors and concerns about his departure, but all I can tell you is we'll ask Coach Weis what's up today and I'm sure he'll answer as best he can.

• No Kevin Short sighting today either. Short's missed a lot of fall camp already and there's no doubt that his absence will make it tough for him to get up to speed on the KU defense. But this is where the extra week off at the start of the season could really pay off. The guy's crazy talented and if he reports in good shape, they should be able to crank around the clock to get him to the point where he can go out there and play using some pretty basic understandings and concepts. As has been the case all along, he could arrive any day.

• I continue to be intrigued by the tight end position, mostly because I think KU will play as many as three or four of these guys this season. If work in practice has anything to do with it, freshman Ben Johnson will definitely be one. The guy is relentless in every drill and he's incredibly physical with good hands, too.

• Finally, we keep talking about the Buck position and every time I take a look over there I notice that Darius Willis looks bigger than before. Willis, you'll remember, started as a middle linebacker and then moved to D-End before being moved back to MLB in the spring. It looks like he's added a little bit of bulk — but not too much — and he could really used those skills he picked up while working on the D-Line to help him in the hybrid position. Should be interesting to see how he does this season.

That's it for now, but, as I mentioned, we'll have all kinds of updates throughout the day, including the expected announcement of KU's captains. I believe the team voted for them this weekend. I can't imagine any scenario that has anyone other than Ben Heeney and Jake Heaps getting the nod, but you never know. If those two guys aren't eligible for the prediction game, I think James Sims and Keon Stowers would be two good picks, too. But I'll be shocked if it's not Heeney and Heaps.

Stay tuned...


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