Big 12: Tony Sands

Crawford elects to transfer from KU program

July, 24, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Kansas tailback Jocques Crawford will leave the Jayhawk program to transfer to a lower division of college football.

"Jocques was looking for an opportunity to get more playing time," Kansas coach Mark Mangino said. "We support his decision and wish him well."

Crawford led all junior-college rushers in 2007 with 1,935 yards and 19 touchdowns while playing at Cisco (Texas) Junior College. He was named the National Junior College Athletic Association national offensive player of the year during that season.

Before beginning play for the Jayhawks last season, Crawford predicted he would rush for 2,000 yards. He fell far short of that total with 232 yards on 62 carries last season and four touchdowns. Jake Sharp eventually won the starting job as the 2008 season went on as Crawford accounted for only 11 carries in the Jayhawks' final five games.

Crawford was suspended for an undisclosed violation of team rules midway through spring practice. He was kept out of the Jayhawks' spring game on April 11 and was never reinstated during spring practice.

His loss could pose potential depth problems for Kansas. Sharp led the team with 186 carries, but accounted for only 42 percent of the Jayhawks' 440 total carries last season. Sharp averaged 14.3 carries per game.

Because of his size, it would be hard to expect Sharp to go much higher than 17-18 carries per game. That will provide players like Rell Lewis, Toben Opurum, Deshaun Sands and junior college transfer Daniel Porter.

Lewis, a converted wide receiver, was the most impressive running back for the Jayhawks in spring practice. Lewis rushed for a game-high 66 yards in the spring game.

And Opurum, freshman from Plano, Texas, has been one of the revelations of informal team preseason practices. He has been favorably compared to former Kansas running back Brandon McAnderson, a bullish back who rushed for 1,125 yards on the Kansas team that won the 2008 Orange Bowl.

And DeShaun Sands' family is well known to Kansas fans, considering his father, Tony, ranks second in the school's history in rushing yards.

As mentioned here earlier this week, the featured running back is vanishing across the Big 12. It means there will be ample chance for playing time for somebody in Kansas' backfield -- particularly after Crawford's departure.

Kansas' practices affected by brisk spring storm

March, 27, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- A blizzard that's supposed to dump up to 8 inches of snow in eastern Kansas hasn't hit -- yet.

But Kansas coach Mark Mangino is taking no chances as he's already canceled the team's scheduled practice for Saturday.

This is the first time that Mangino has ever postponed spring practice because of snow.

"I've moved inside a lot because of cold weather," Mangino said. "But we've been in contact with the Kansas City television stations and the weather service. They've told us this is the real deal."

The snow hasn't started yet, but it did force the Jayhawks inside for a practice that was supposed to be open to the general public. Several reporters did watch the proceedings. Here are some of my observations.

  • Mangino has said that he wants to play Kerry Meier full time at wide receiver, but still can't wean him from a few snaps at quarterback at each practice. Meier's move to receiver will depend on the development of redshirt freshman quarterback Kale Pick, who got a few snaps at Friday's practice. Mangino hopes to get Pick more work as the spring progresses.
  • The Jayhawks' defense should get a shot of enthusiasm from veteran linebackers coach/co-defensive coordinator Bill Miller, who made him presence known during some tackling drills that were a little too sloppy for his tastes.
  • One standout in the practice appears to be converted running back Angus Quigley, who showed promise with his raw athleticism.
  • Mangino has been intrigued by the quick start of redshirt freshman offensive tackle Tanner Hawkinson, who has been inserted at left tackle with Jeremiah Hatch moving to his natural position of center.
  • Starting quarterback Todd Reesing and Meier looked like they were in midseason form after connecting on several strikes.
  • I officially feel like an old man. Among the players getting work were freshman running back Deshaun Sands. I remember watching his father, Tony Sands, when he was breaking records for the Jayhawks not too many years ago.
  • Mangino singled out massive 338-pound freshman offensive lineman John Williams for his strong early play. "He's a powerful guy who is really quick," Mangino said. "He'll be a starter if he keeps up at this pace."
  • Roderick Harris Jr., a junior wide receiver, appeared to sprain his left ankle midway through practice. He hobbled to the sidelines and did not return.
  • As leading receiver Dezmon Briscoe's suspension continues, Johnathan Wilson had a strong practice. Wilson made several circus catches which prompted the biggest reaction of the day by his teammates.

If the blizzard lets me, I'll be off to Nebraska very early tomorrow morning to catch the Cornhuskers' workout. More reports will be coming then and maybe even my first Runza sandwich of my North Division swing.