- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
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For the next two weeks, we'll be examining the strongest and weakest positions for each team in the Big 12 going into the fall.
We keep the series going Wednesday with the Kansas Jayhawks:
Strongest position: Defensive end
Kansas is in good shape on the edge with senior Ben Goodman, who’ll likely be a three-year starter. He’s going to be more comfortable with another year at end after playing Buck linebacker in 2013 and should easily provide more than the two TFLs and one sack he logged in 2014.
Goodman will team with Damani Mosby, who looked ready to contribute in a big way this spring after redshirting as a juco transfer in 2014. Anthony Olobia sat out his first year at KU, too, but is another former juco guy with intriguing potential as a pass rusher. T.J. Semke – the Big 12's best part-time bounty hunter – earned a scholarship and six starts last season. That experience ought to prove valuable.
And I’m a fan of Dorance Armstrong, the incoming freshman who hails from a Texas high school powerhouse (Galena Park North Shore) and has a big frame (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) and bigger ceiling. He’s the kind of underrecruited stud David Beaty needs to continue finding and signing to get this program back on track.
Weakest position: Wide receiver
Well, you could go in a few directions on this topic. Kansas has question marks at quarterback, running back and in the secondary exiting spring ball. Its offensive line will be better, but it doesn’t have much to lean on in the way of experienced depth.
But let’s turn our attention to the wide receivers. Nick Harwell, Tony Pierson, Nigel King and Justin McCay are all gone, which created vacancies across the board entering the spring. And then the Jayhawks’ likely No. 1 receiver, Rodriguez Coleman, put his playing career at KU in jeopardy by earning an indefinite suspension.
Coleman caught three passes last season, so it’s not as if he was a reliable go-to guy anyway. The only scholarship senior left, Tre' Parmalee, has dealt with injuries the last two years and caught four balls in 2014.
Receivers coach Klint Kubiak inherits quite a challenge in year one. He needs to get the most out of Parmalee and find a few impactful players from the young group of Derrick Neal, Bobby Hartzog, Tyler Patrick and Darious Crawley. Maybe senior walk-on Shakiem Barbel builds off a solid spring game performance and a true freshman or two (KU signed four) proves he belongs on the field.
New coach David Beaty can feel comfortable at defensive end, but there are several holes that need to be filled on the offensive side.