Pick shows flashes of bright KU future
Upperclassmen at Kansas University who like to take in sporting events are no strangers to late-game, garbage-time novelty acts producing freakishly phenomenal statistics as the parking lots begin to jam up.
Early in KU’s 2007-2008 national-championship basketball season, freshman walk-on Conner Teahan made them screech with an uncanny three-point shooting touch. In his first eight games, Teahan made 10 of 13 three-pointers and became something of a cult hero. He has made four of 24 since then, fading back into the background.
The outlandish stat compiler entertaining those who stay seated late in blowouts now is backup quarterback Kale Pick, a red-shirt freshman who has looked like a guy trying to get the heck out of Dodge every time he had tucked the ball and run.
The difference between Teahan and Pick, of course, is that the future of the Kansas football program hinges on Pick having more staying power and becoming much more than a novelty act.
Pick ran the ball once in Saturday’s 44-16 victory against Duke and didn’t stop running until he gained 18 yards, the key play in a drive that ended with freshman Toben Opurum crashing in from the three-yard line.
For that one run, Pick made himself the object of playful jabbing from his mentor, senior quarterback Todd Reesing.
“Todd was giving me crap after the game,” Pick said. “He said, ‘You brought your average down today. What’s up with that?’ ”
Reesing, who would have had outrageous Heisman-worthy numbers Saturday if not for drops from Johnathan Wilson and Dezmon Briscoe, knows his stuff. Pick’s yards-per-carry dropped from 26.8 to 25.3. He has gained 152 yards on six runs. He sees openings and has the speed to take advantage of them.
Can he pass well enough to keep the Kansas program from falling back into the past once Reesing is gone and Pick takes over? Based on game action, there is no way to answer that. He is 3-for-3 for 16 yards, but when he enters the game the object is more to take seconds off the clock than it is to put points on the board.
“He can throw the ball very well,” Kansas coach Mark Mangino assured. “In fact, he’s thrown the ball better in the last two weeks than he ever has here, and I’ve been really excited with the way he’s been sitting in the pocket and getting his reads and throwing the ball. It’s good to know you have a guy who can run with it, but he can throw it. He’s not a one-dimensional player.”
Pick stands 6-foot-2, weighs 200 pounds and is from Dodge City. And he’s fast.
“I didn’t run much in high school,” he said. “I always knew my speed and quickness, but where I really improved my running game was these last two-a-days during training camp. My running game has improved a lot since high school.”
A broken thumb in the first game of his senior year limited him to two games of action and denied him a chance to play in a game against Wichita East on ESPNU the second week of the season.
The spotlight will come calling again next fall. What he does under its glow will go far in determining the program’s near future.