Far too often, players enter the season with a profile that doesn't quite match his worth to the team.
In other words, they're coming in under the radar. We'll start a new series today looking at those guys who should get more respect and attention than they have this offseason.
Next up: Kansas.
Under the radar: LB Jake Love
The influx of juco talent on both sides of the ball has attracted so much talk around Kansas, and even linebacker Ben Heeney (112 tackles, 12 tackles for loss in 2012) has overshadowed Love's efforts last season. But while newcomers like Marquel Combs and Cassius Sendish attract attention in ink and on tape, don't overlook the Jayhawks' big talent from the high school ranks.
Love came from the small school, 2A ranks in Tonkawa, Okla., but earned a starting role as a redshirt freshman late in 2012. It wasn't hard to see why. By the end of the season, he was second on the team with eight tackles for loss on just 36 stops. He broke up a pass and had a sack, and 7.5 of his eight tackles for loss came in three near-wins for the Jayhawks: Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech. He returned in the spring and earned great reviews from coach Charlie Weis. He knew he needed talent upgrades all over the field on offense and defense, but linebacker is one of the few spots where the top of the depth chart won't be budging. The 6-foot, 221-pounder is the prototypical new-age linebacker to help stop wide-open Big 12 offenses, and unlike the juco players coming to Kansas, Love's still got three years to make an impact on Kansas' defense.
He's got almost no name recognition around the league for now, but don't be surprised if Love changes that with a big breakout game in conference play to help the Jayhawks end their frustrating losing streak.