Coach Turner Gill released his first depth chart, and though it's early, he's made good on his promise to give players a head start. Here's a few thoughts:
Toben Opurum? Nowhere to be found. He was banged up this spring and wasn't full available, but thinking back on my trip this spring, I can't say I'm shocked to see senior Angus Quigley and freshman DeShaun Sands above him. I went to Lawrence with every intention of writing about Opurum, but I asked Gill about how Opurum would fit into the new offense, and if he felt comfortable relying on him as a power runner for carries to help break in a new quarterback. His answer on April 12: "He’s in the hunt. He’s in there at this point. He’s definitely in the hunt. He’s gotten a little banged up, but it's good to see we have some competition at the position. There is no clear-cut guy, but there’s nothing clear cut at any position at this point in time, at running back or wherever. We’re going to keep this thing competitive. We do have some competitiveness at the running back spot and a lot of different areas." Opurum was the team's leading rusher from a season ago and even with senior Jake Sharp on the team, he's still my bet to lead the team in rushing again, but look for plenty of Jayhawks running backs to get touches this season, including incoming freshman Brandon Bourbon.
Kale Pick and Jordan Webb are listed as co-No.1 quarterbacks with, for what it's worth, Pick's name is listed first. That might be alphabetical or it might be that Pick has a slight edge, but they're the only two players sharing a position on the chart. That's a little surprising, but my guess is Gill is spurning the "Embrace Leader Position" button over the summer in favor of the "Spur Improvement Via Competition" button. Both good options, but Gill talked about competition at positions a lot all spring. It doesn't look like that's changing.
The team's leading tackler from 2009, linebacker Drew Dudley, is listed as a second-teamer, but he was playing through a shoulder injury throughout the entire spring. He was able to participate in pass skeleton drills and other team work, but was held out of contact. My guess is he'll be right back at starter once he's healthy next fall. Junior Steven Johnson is starting at strongside linebacker, senior Justin Springer is starting at middle linebacker and sophomore Huldon Tharp is starting at weakside linebacker. Defensive coordinator Carl Torbush sees linebacker as one of his more surprising positions in terms of depth, so look for at least a couple more guys to slide into the rotation like junior Chea Peterman, who isn't listed on the depth chart.
Freshman Christian Matthews began the spring as a quarterback, but moved to receiver late in the 15 workouts. His performance was good enough to earn him a second-team receiver nod. That's pretty impressive, but he did make a nice game-winning catch in the spring game.
Junior fullback Steven Foster is behind Justin Puthoff on the chart. Foster came to Kansas as the nation's No. 4 fullback. Puthoff is a walk-on still lacking a headshot. Not exactly an endorsement of Foster's skills, but Gill isn't kidding around when he says everyone got a fresh start. We'll find out in the fall if Puthoff was that impressive, or if Gill just wanted Foster to have to stare at that all summer.