New Kansas linebacker Lorenzo McCaskill participates in first practice after transfer

photo by: Chance Parker/Journal-World

Kansas coach Lance Leipold and defensive coordinator Brian Borland share a laugh during the first day of practice on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.

Kansas defensive coordinator Brian Borland said Thursday that linebacker Lorenzo McCaskill’s transfer from Louisiana will provide the Jayhawks with an accomplished player at a position that could have benefited from the addition of someone with considerable experience.

McCaskill, who participated in practice for the first time on Thursday morning, is a 6-foot, 220-pound sixth-year senior from Detroit who was named to the All-Sun Belt second team last season.

He played inside linebacker in Louisiana’s 3-3-5 scheme, which is slightly different than the 4-3 base defense the Jayhawks use, but Borland isn’t worried about how he’d adjust to his new team.

“He’s an inside linebacker, probably more of that middle linebacker spot for us, so I’m sure that’s something similar to what he did (at Louisiana),” Borland said. “Kids are adaptable. He’ll learn our scheme. He’ll adapt, and there’s things — even though it’s a different alignment and things like that, a lot of it’s still the same. Football is football, so I don’t have any problem or any worry that he won’t catch on or he won’t fit in.”

McCaskill’s transfer was delayed as he finished his undergraduate coursework. He spent his first season at Holmes Community College in Goodman, Mississippi, before transferring to Louisiana in 2018, and he started all 23 games over the past two seasons for the Ragin’ Cajuns, who won the Sun Belt both years.

He decided to leave Louisiana in January, after coach Billy Napier was hired at Florida, and initially received interest from schools such USC and Tennessee. He waited, however, in order to find somewhere he could play more frequently.

A childhood neighbor of redshirt junior cornerback Kalon Gervin, who transferred to Kansas from Michigan State in January, McCaskill was recruited by the Jayhawks’ coaches while they were at Buffalo. He is the latest and final addition to a position group that has undergone significant change since last season ended.

Seniors Rich Miller and Gavin Potter and junior Taiwan Berryhill all started at least four games last season and are still on the team, but redshirt senior Eriq Gilyard (UCF), redshirt junior Craig Young (Ohio State) and sophomore Tristian Fletcher (Trinity Valley CC) all transferred to Kansas.

Borland said the coaching staff’s goal in recent months has been to add “more competitive Division I football players” and was able to do so with the quartet’s additions.

“I think the increased competition, I think it makes everybody better,” Borland said. “Now it’s just a matter of really trying to figure it all out. You kind of let it sort itself out a little bit. Eventually, I think the cream’s going to rise to the top. There’s no doubt we’ll get the right guys on the field.”

Logan motivated by honors

Senior safety Kenny Logan Jr. appreciated being named to the watch lists for several of college football’s top awards.

In the past two weeks, he has been touted as a candidate for the Bednarik Award as the best defensive player, the Hornung Award as the most versatile player and the Thorpe Award as the best defensive back.

Logan, who plans to continue returning kickoffs for the Jayhawks, was also named to the All-Big 12 preseason team.

“It definitely motivates me,” Logan said. “I’m definitely thankful for it, but I’m always trying to get better. That wasn’t enough for me. I’m always trying to make sure I’m improving and make sure this team is improving in the right direction.”

High expectations for Grant

Borland said he expects Marvin Grant, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound redshirt junior who transferred from Purdue, to play a lot of snaps this season but still has to see how he fits best in the defense.

It seems likely Grant, who started last season for the Boilermakers, will resume that role alongside Logan, but the two have each taken snaps as the boundary safety during the first three days of camp.

“Marvin is pretty good, a natural football player,” Borland said. “I think he likes to be physical, so those are some things if you just look at his stature — he’s tall, he’s long — he kind of gives us a different look back there.”


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