KU coaches as confident as ever playing Locklin in multiple positions

photo by: Chance Parker/Journal-World photo

Kansas redshirt junior Torry Locklin runs through drills during the first day of Fall Camp on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023.

When Torry Locklin first committed to Kansas, he was a lefty dual threat quarterback, a two-star prospect as assessed by Rivals and the 18th addition to David Beaty’s class of 2018.

A grayshirt season, four years and two coaching changes later, Locklin is still in Lawrence as a running back, wide receiver, special teamer and whatever else offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki needs him to be in the madcap Jayhawks offense, capable of going, as Kotelnicki puts it, in “any spot, any place.”

Locklin waited out a three-season stretch in which KU went 5-28 to get to 2022, where he had two receiving touchdowns, three rushing scores and even a pair of fumble recoveries as the Swiss Army knife in the Jayhawks’ 6-7 campaign.

“Coach K has a real crazy mindset when it comes to play-calling,” Locklin said Wednesday at KU’s football media day. “And I like it. It keeps the defenses on their toes, and it’s just helping us tremendously as an offense being able to scheme up against people.”

In many ways Locklin embodies what players and coaches call the “multiplicity” of Kotelnicki’s scheme, in service of, as Kotelnicki said Wednesday, becoming “the most stressful team in the country to defend.”

“It’s so important as a coach to really understand what players’ capabilities are and what their limitations are,” he said. “And you can always morph around those things.”

And just like the offense as a whole, Locklin has ramped up his versatility even further this fall with an additional year of experience. The KU receiving corps has dealt with scattered minor injuries in recent weeks; asked which player had done the most with increased repetitions in camp, position coach Terry Samuel immediately cited Locklin as “the first guy that comes to mind in my room that’s done some good things.” Locklin himself said he thinks receiving skills have been his biggest area of improvement.

“Getting under T-Sam’s wing and learning his keys how to be a receiver,” he said. “I believe that’s really helped me a lot.”

Spending more time out wide — again — has been the latest turn in the saga, going on six years, of Locklin’s football career, one that has been filled with stops and starts since he graduated from Rockdale High in Texas and then spent a semester taking classes at a junior college. (He had in fact, even earlier, started high school in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where his father was an assistant coach at New Mexico State.)

Locklin impressed early on, as early as the spring game in 2019 ahead of his true freshman year. Les Miles’ staff initially saw his promise at quarterback, then started to mold him into what they described as a Taysom Hill type of player, but only enough for him to carry the ball three times and make one tackle across his first two seasons.

photo by: Nick Krug

White team nose tackle Sam Burt closes in on Blue Team quarterback Torry Locklin during Late Night Under the Lights on Saturday, April 13, 2019 at Memorial Stadium.

Lance Leipold and his staff continued along the lines of that process. Locklin’s first year under Leipold included an out-of-nowhere two-touchdown game — one rushing, one receiving — against Duke, after Locklin had previously not recorded a single catch during his career.

Kansas wide receiver Torry Locklin (12) runs against Duke during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

But it also included an injury that derailed his season for the second straight year.

Locklin then played all 13 games in 2022, after previously having played a combined 16.

When Leipold first arrived at KU, he said in 2021, finding a position for Locklin was “kind of like trying to find him a home.” As Leipold’s staff has spent more time with Locklin, they only seem to have become more confident that his home is best split between several different locations.

“He can do a lot of different things, whether that’s in the backfield, whether that’s out on the perimeter as a receiver, and we’re going to continue to train him that way,” running backs coach Jonathan Wallace said after a recent practice. “He’s shown that he can do that, he’s capable of doing those things, so we’re going to continue to do that.”

photo by: Henry Greenstein/Journal-World photo

Kansas’ Torry Locklin tosses a ball back during practice on Aug. 16, 2023, following a play on which he took a shotgun snap.

photo by: Chance Parker/Journal-World photo

Kansas redshirt junior Torry Locklin runs through drills during the first day of Fall Camp on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023.


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