KU football adds key piece to O-line in Division II transfer Bumgardner

After losing Mike Novitsky and Dominick Puni to graduation, then Ar’maj Reed-Adams and Spencer Lovell to the transfer portal rather unexpectedly, the Kansas football team made a critical move to supplement its offensive line.

KU secured the services of Shane Bumgardner, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound center who spent four years at Division II Tiffin University in Tiffin, Ohio, and announced his commitment on social media Tuesday morning.

Bumgardner earned the Division II edition of the Rimington Award, given to the nation’s top center. He was also an AP Division II All-American.

He will make a substantial leap up in competition level to play at KU for his final year of collegiate eligibility. Indeed, the remainder of the scholarship offers he announced on X after entering the portal on Dec. 16 came from schools in Division II, the Division I Football Championship Subdivision or, most recently, the Group of Five conferences (the likes of Bowling Green, Buffalo, Coastal Carolina and Old Dominion).

He committed to KU two days after receiving an offer during his visit Sunday.

“It was only Sunday, and it was pretty quick,” he told Jon Kirby of JayhawkSlant.com. “I got a quick overview of everything. But obviously I come from a (D-II) school, so the facilities are insane. I’m not used to any of that. And then really for me it was the coaches like talking to Coach (Scott) Fuchs and Coach (Jeff) Grimes. I really like what they had to say and think it’ll be a great opportunity for me.”

Thanks to Puni’s recent success — joining the Jayhawks as a relatively unheralded Division II transfer from Central Missouri and leaving as a likely mid-round 2024 NFL Draft pick — Bumgardner has a model to follow. He told Kirby that Fuchs, the offensive line coach, mentioned Puni’s accomplishments and also cited his own experience as a Division II player, noting his appreciation for that level of play.

“(Division II guys) play like we haven’t had the best facilities,” Bumgardner told JayhawkSlant. “We haven’t had the best treatment. So, you kind of play at that level you’re playing because you love football and everything about it.”

He should be in for considerable playing time right away as the replacement for Novitsky, with Dre Doiron continuing to serve as backup center. That would allow Michael Ford Jr. to remain at his guard spot, with Kobe Baynes also starting on the interior after Reed-Adams’ departure. (Reed-Adams has transferred to Texas A&M.)

Bryce Cabeldue and local product Calvin Clements, who played a Free State, project as the starting tackles, though Logan Brown could make a push after missing most of 2023 due to injury.


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