You can't rebuild a football team with one player. It's got to happen piece by piece and position by position. Kansas has a long way to go and one of the Big 12's most difficult rebuilding jobs, but one thing is sure after today: One position group is assured as one of the Big 12's best for the foreseeable future.
Darrian Miller was arguably Kansas' most talented back in 2011, rushing for almost 600 yards in limited duty behind James Sims. But when Charlie Weis arrived at the end of the season, he made Miller one of 29 players told to continue their careers elsewhere.
The Jayhawks announced Miller's return on Tuesday morning, which gives Kansas the Big 12's deepest backfield for sure. He joins Sims, who logged his first 1,000-yard season last year, but he'll have to compete for time with a whole group of talented backs, too.
Tony Pierson found a niche in the passing game and was one of Kansas' most explosive players in an offense badly in need of a big-play threat last season. Taylor Cox and Brandon Bourbon should provide further depth for a Jayhawks backfield with five players who could be very productive carrying the ball in Big 12 play.
For me, only Baylor and Texas have better running backs than Kansas. TCU's right there battling for that third spot, too. But this is the only position right now where you can guarantee Kansas has the personnel and production to be in the top half of the Big 12.
Weis would like his junior college haul to make the defensive line crack that list, and it may happen, but for now, the Jayhawks have added a huge talent in Miller and added further depth to a position Kansas knows it can count in in 2013, 2014 and perhaps beyond.
That's a place to start building and should loosen up defenses for Jake Heaps to make an impact in the passing game.
There's the matter of Miller's discipline issue, but it's amazing what a year away from the game players' love will do for their decision-making off the field.
"When I left Kansas after the 2011 season, I was in good academic standing. I was dismissed for off-the-field issues that I take full accountability for," Miller said in a statement. "I made mistakes as a freshman that not only led to my dismissal, but hurt the Kansas football team. I regret this happened, but I have learned a great life lesson during this ordeal."
It sounds like Miller's focus has narrowed, and for Kansas, so has their list of problems, even if it's just one position for now.
"My only goal now is to help Coach Weis return Kansas football to respectability,” Miller said.