Friday, April 1, 2011
Opening spring camp: Kansas
By ESPN.com staff
Schedule: Kansas opens spring practice today with the first of 15 workouts, concluding with the annual spring game set for April 30.
What’s new: Kansas' staff is mostly intact and ready to start Year 2 of the Turner Gill Era in Lawrence. Receivers coach Darrell Wyatt left to coach the same position at Texas, but the Jayhawks brought back David Beaty as receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator after a year away coaching at Rice. He helped coach former Jayhawks stars Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier.
On the mend: Linebacker Huldon Tharp returns after missing all of last season with a leg injury just before the season. He'll be just a sophomore, but likely one of the leaders for a linebacking corps that should be pretty strong.
On the move: Former receiver Bradley McDougald played some safety last year, but he'll focus on safety alongside Keeston Terry, who did the same. Former running back and former linebacker Toben Opurum looks like he'll stick at defensive end this spring after playing well down the stretch last season for the Jayhawks defense.
New faces: Offensive lineman Dylan Admire and running back Darrian Miller were two of the top recruits in Kansas' 2011 class, and both are on campus early. Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, the No. 1 player most fans wanted to see suit up this spring won't be there. Quarterback Brock Berglund graduated early and enrolled in classes at the beginning of the semester, but returned home to Colorado last month because of what the school called "personal circumstances." He'll be with the team beginning this fall.
Breaking out: Receiver D.J. Beshears. Turner Gill wants more speed on the field, and Beshears offers that. He's one of the best home-run threats the Jayhawks have, and look for Kansas to find ways to get the ball in his hand and let him make plays. He already got some time in the Wildcat last year, and unless the quarterback play improves quickly, he's likely to see some more.
Don’t forget about: Tight end Tim Biere. He caught four of Kansas' 11 touchdown passes last year, and the burly, 6-foot-4, 260-pounder will be looking for a big senior year after finishing with 19 catches for 228 yards last year, tied for the third-most catches on the team.
All eyes on: The new/young guys. Kansas' current crop of players should improve some this year and help the team get competitive, but if the Jayhawks are going to get back to winning games like they did under Mark Mangino, Gill will have to infuse more talent into the program via recruiting. If young players, not even necessarily freshmen, can show some flashes of potential, there will be a lot more optimism within the program after a long 3-9 season last year that featured five losses by at least 20 points.