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August 8, 2011Young players fill the roster
When you sign 26 new players, and most are from the high school ranks, it can quickly change the look of your roster. Last year the Jayhawks lost a lot of seniors and the addition of some many young players has given them a youthful look.
Kansas offensive line coach J.B. Grimes said this is the youngest team he has been involved with in his 35 years of coaching. About 70 percent of the players on scholarship are On paper that would make the Jayhawks one of the youngest teams in the country.
Grimes has been in the business longer than offensive coordinator Chuck Long who agrees with him.
"If you look at our team I think we have about 60 guys that are sophomores or younger out of 85 scholarships," Long said. "So we are still young. This is one of the youngest if not the youngest I have been around. But it felt older because of last year."
The Kansas coaches aren't making excuses, they are simply just stating the facts.
Summer workouts pay off
Maybe you can credit the break in the weather. A couple days before the Jayhawks started practice the thermometer hit 108 degrees. The 18 degree drop still doesn't mean it is easy work. The players credit the work they did in the off-season.
"This summer they ran us like there was no tomorrow," said defensive lineman Pat Dorsey. "But it was a good thing and it made us more in shape. We ran, ran, and ran some more. We are used to the heat and in good shape."
Defensive end Toben Opurum lines up right next to Dorsey and claims the off-season workouts helped him prepare for the start of Fall camp.
"I feel like we are a better conditioned team than we were last year," Opurum said. "This summer we spent a lot more time running and holding each other accountable. "For me, I am in the best shape I've been in since I've been at KU. It's a lot easier for me now since I'm fully healthy."
Interior of defense hopes to step up
Experience and depth hurt the defensive line last season. This year there are more bodies on the line and many of the players have gained valuable experience in the program.
Dorsey said the team is last year's performance as a stepping stone to improving.
"We just want to get better every day," Dorsey said. "Last year we weren't the most productive defensive line and mentally that affected all of us. This summer we worked hard and got better. Now we are just ready to show it. As far as defensive tackles we don't have a lot so we have to step up. Everyone is going to have to play. Even the young guys have come in and stepping up. It was a challenge we issued to each other in the d-line to get better in the summer."
Webb takes leadership role
Both Turner Gill and Chuck Long have said Jordan Webb has the early lead to win the starting job.
Daymond Patterson said he noticed Webb take on a leadership role over the summer.
More news and notes
- Pat Lewandowski, who was expected to help on the defensive line, will miss to 2-3 with an injury. That will force him to miss much of the August camp.
- The Jayhawks went to full pads this afternoon and practiced in Memorial Stadium.
"I was very pleased with the physicality I saw out there today," Turner Gill said. "Players on both sides of the ball were out there being extremely physical and that was encouraging."