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James Sims' last stand: KU senior has one final shot at eclipsing school record
With just one game remaining in his college career — 11 a.m. Saturday vs. Kansas State at Memorial Stadium — senior running back James Sims needs 332 yards rushing to pass June Henley and take over first place on KU's all-time rushing list.
It's a long shot. At best. But given the way Sims has played throughout his incredible KU career, I'm not going to count the guy out until he's played his final snap.
There is precedent for a magical final day by a guy at the top of KU's all-time rushing list. It came in 1991, when senior Tony Sands ran all over Missouri in the season finale and set KU's single game rushing record with 396 yards on a whopping 58 carries.
Sands' monster day established an NCAA record that stood until LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 406 yards for TCU in 1999.
At the time, Sands already had claimed the top spot on KU's rushing list — earlier that season he passed Laverne Smith, who had held the top spot with 3,074 career yards — so while his big day did not vault him into the top spot, it did make it harder for Henley to track down a handful of years later. Sands finished his career with 3,788 rushing yards. Henley passed him in 1996 with 3,841.
Think about it. Back then, who in their wildest dreams would have given Sands a chance to run for nearly 400 yards against a hated rival?
Sims is no Sands in terms of running style, but he's every bit as prolific and he, too, will be facing a hated rival in his swan song.
Don't mistake this blog for me predicting that Sims is going to get the yards he needs. I wouldn't bet a dollar on it. But I thought the way his career is ending juxtaposed against the way Sands' career did 22 years ago was at least interesting enough to say Sims has a chance.
James Sims, though quiet and never flashy, has been one of my favorite athletes to cover at all levels and in any sport. He's one of those rock steady running backs who has simply shown up every day ready to get the most out of his body and give the most to his team.
If we've learned anything throughout his impressive four-year KU career, it seems that the most likely scenario is that Sims will not reach the 332 yards he needs, KU will not beat K-State and one of the greatest running backs the program has ever produced will slip away quietly and live on only in a name in tiny black print on a rushing list that, one day, someone else will try to climb.
For me, though, Sims will be a guy I'll never forget. I wish him nothing but the best in the future and hope he gets the chance he deserves in the NFL, be it with the Denver Broncos or any other team.
Heck, I'm such a big fan of James Sims the person, I'd probably still root for him if he wound up playing for the Raiders, Chargers or Chiefs.
Here's to a heck of a career. And one more for the road.