Big 12: Jake Shermer

Kansas spring wrap

May, 14, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Kansas Jayhawks
2008 overall record: 8-5

2008 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters

Offense: 8, defense: 7, kicker/punter: 2

Top returners

QB Todd Reesing, RB Jake Sharp, WR Dezmon Briscoe, WR Kerry Meier, C Jeremiah Hatch, DE Jake Laptad, S Darrell Stuckey.

Key losses

C Ryan Cantrell, G Adrian Mayes, LB James Holt, LB Mike Rivera, LB Joe Mortensen.

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Jake Sharp* (860 yards)
Passing: Todd Reesing* (3,888 yards)
Receiving: Dezmon Briscoe* (1,407 yards)
Tackles: James Holt (105)
Sacks: James Holt (10)
Interceptions: Darrell Stuckey* (5)

2009 Schedule
Sept. 5 Northern Colorado
Sept. 12 at UTEP
Sept. 19 Duke
Sept. 26 Southern Mississippi
Oct. 10 Iowa State
Oct. 17 at Colorado
Oct. 24 Oklahoma
Oct. 31 at Texas Tech
Nov. 7 at Kansas State
Nov. 14 Nebraska
Nov. 21 at Texas
Nov. 28 Missouri (at Kansas City)

Spring answers

1. Todd Reesing: The most productive quarterback in Kansas history appears ready to have his team ready to challenge for the North title after a strong spring. The Jayhawks will have most of their offensive weapons back from last season. But the biggest reason for their title hopes emanates from the confidence of Reesing, who comes into the season as the North's best quarterback.

2. Jake Shermer: Fears about the lack of returning experience at linebacker were alleviated by Shermer's development over the spring in the Jayhawks' new 4-2-5 defense. The redshirt senior showed good instincts as he worked with senior Arist Wright at the starting positions.

3. Johnathan Wilson: This tall, athletic wide receiver took advantage of Dezmon Briscoe's suspension to have a big spring, finishing with seven catches for 133 yards and a touchdown in the spring game. With Briscoe's return and the full-time transfer of Kerry Meier to wide receiver, the Jayhawks arguably have the best collection of wide receivers in the conference, if not college football.

Fall questions

1. Linebackers: No matter who plays there, the Jayhawks will face a huge talent loss with the departure of James Holt, Mike Rivera and Joe Mortensen -- three of their four leading tacklers last season. The new alignment and new starters will remain the biggest defensive question throughout the summer.

2. Left tackle: Sophomore Jeremiah Hatch was moved from left tackle to center, where he played in high school. The vacancy created a starting job for converted defensive end Tanner Hawkinson, who arrived at college as a tight end. Considering he will be protecting Reesing's blind side, Hawkinson will be under a lot of scrutiny.

3. Unfamiliar role as title contenders: The Jayhawks are considered among the North Division favorites and start the season with higher expectations than any season in recent memory. But is the team mentally prepared for that? Already, Briscoe and running back Jocques Crawford have been suspended from the team for undisclosed violations of team rules. Is this a Kansas team that made back-to-back bowl trips for the first time in school history, or one that feels a sense of entitlement because of the high predictions? We'll see as the season plays out.