With so much going on in other college sports, it’s easy to forget that spring workouts are starting to ramp up across the country. The Big 12 is no exception there, with multiple teams having already started practices.
As those teams commence their NCAA-sanctioned workouts, each Big 12 squad will try to find an answer to its respective question over the course of about a month.
Here, we’ll try to look into what positions will be up for grabs. Up next are the Kansas Jayhawks, who began practices a few days ago.
In December, the Jayhawks found a new head coach in the former head guy of the LSU Tigers, Les Miles. Miles has brought a new energy to Kansas football, which has long struggled to get out of the basement of the Big 12.
It’s uncertain what kind of impact Miles will have in terms of wins and losses, but his major challenge will be to remake the face of Kansas football. That project really cranks up this spring, where he’ll get a first hand look at the kinds of personnel he has on hand.
PRACTICE BEGINS: THU, March 7
SPRING GAME: SAT, April 13
LOCATION: David Booth Memorial Stadium (Lawrence, KS)
Miles’s staff will have enough to sort out on offense. The power football Miles’s teams ran while at LSU starkly contrasts Kansas’s Air Raid last season. Offensive coordinator Les Koenning has coached at stops around Texas and SEC country, so he’s well-positioned to conduct the transition.
Quarterback sticks out as a position that was somewhat of a bugaboo in the past for the Jayhawks. The most experienced player with starting experience is senior Carter Stanley, but he’ll likely have competition from Miles Kendrick, who saw action last season as a JUCO transfer.
The running back room has potential, but a few things are up in the air. Headed into 2019, the Jayhawks would have one of the best running back duos in the Big 12. That would include senior Khalil Herbert, who ran for 499 yards last season.
The status of Pooka Williams, last year’s breakout true freshman, remains up in the air after he was suspended following charges of domestic battery last December.
A new offensive staff will also have a few veterans to work with in the trenches. Three offensive line starters are back, including All-Big 12 tackle Hakeem Adeniji.
Wide receiver saw a lot of attrition from last season, with junior Stephon Robinson the lone returner. Tight end Jack Luavasa, a junior, is a returning starter as well. That could bode well for an offense that may look to run out of more tight formations than the previous regime.
Some less-than-good news for the new defensive coaches is that there were significant losses from a Jayhawk defense that carried the team last season. Only one player – lineman Azur Kamara – returns in the defensive front six.
Bryce Tornedon, Corionne Harris, and Mike Lee all return on the back end as well, so it wouldn’t’ be surprising for the secondary to be the strength of the Kansas defense in 2019. Only senior departs from last year’s unit, which will likely be reworked from the nickel base the Jayhawks employed in 2018.
With the kind of attrition facing the Jayhawks overall, though, now might be as good a time as any for a complete remake of Kansas football. The most important task for Miles might be finding new leaders to ensure buy-in from the rest of the team. It will certainly be interesting to find out who emerges to lead the 2019 Kansas squad as a new era of Jayhawk football begins.