My, how time flies. It seems like only yesterday that I was thinking about posting an entire article on how Jocques Crawford would still be a major contributor to this team. Now, he may not be a Jayhawk at all.
In all honesty, it was actually two days ago, but what's important is that it doesn't seem he will be contributing to any team for a little while.
Crawford was an all-around athlete and a great special teams player. He never quite fit into our offensive system last season, but I feel that with added experience and a more mobile offensive line, he would've been a very capable backup to Jake Sharp this year. It's too bad, Jocques. I always enjoyed watching you.
He's not the only one who has worked his way to the sour side of the Coach Mark Mangino spectrum. As most of you know, Jamaal Greene and Dezmon Briscoe haven't been participating in many football-related activities recently, either.
I'm not sure what got these guys into the doghouse, but I really don't care. Greene is a redshirt sophomore and should be able to keep himself away from trouble by now, and Briscoe has far too bright a future to throw away for anything problematic.
In the meantime, Mangino has done a great job of dealing with player situations as he sees fit. This includes filling in the holes that these situations leave in his lineup. Fortunately, the Spring Game was the perfect opportunity for Mangino to explore some of the other weapons in his arsenal.
Rell Lewis, So. RB
Rell Lewis, last season's fourth-string wide-receiver-turned-running-back, was given his first big opportunity to show Mangino what he can do. In the wake of the Crawford news, Lewis' 100+ all-purpose yard performance in the spring game may have earned him a step up the depth chart ladder.
Most importantly, he has earned Mangino's trust, which is no easy task (Marcus Herford or Gary Green would certainly agree). He won't get much crunch time in his career, but he is a young guy that everyone will love by Senior Day 2011.
Jake Schermer, Sr. LB
I won't say much more than I already have about Schermer, other than that he is playing like a veteran on a mission. Operation: M.I.P.
Jordan Webb, Fr. QB
The true freshman (already on campus) is doing more than keeping Kale Pick on his toes, he's competing. In the long run, I still expect both Webb and fellow quarterback recruit Christian Matthews to take redshirts this year with Pick and Kerry Meier (and even Tyler Lawrence) capable of backing up Todd Reesing. However, Jordan Webb drew a lot of attention last Saturday with a really good performance for a kid just leaving high school.
We may be in for a big treat from a 6' 2", 230 lb. incoming monster known as Toben Opurum. Without Crawford, fellow freshman runningback Deshaun Sands may still get the redshirt, but Toben should play Thunder to Jake Sharp's Lightning right away, followed by the aforementioned Lewis.
Isaiah Barfield and Jonathon Wilson were the biggest benefactors of Briscoe's suspension. Wilson drew praise for his athleticism (and for being a Briscoe safety net), while former-cornerback Barfield was given a chance at the wide receiver position and responded with a few plays as well.
The young KU offensive linemen didn't struggle too much keeping the Greene-less defensive linemen at bay, and even managed a decent run game with two sub-six-foot-tall running backs. Jamaal, I hope you were watching.
A few other thoughts. Firstly, don't bother trying to find out the real stories behind the suspensions. Other sites may claim to know that Crawford is not coming back or how long Briscoe will be gone, but we will only hear the full truth when Mark Mangino decides to tell us. One thing I admire about him is that he keeps people out of his players' business.
Also, thank you, Mangino, for not giving your best players a free pass onto your field. This program doesn't have many troublemakers, and its all because you'll do what needs to be done when problems arise, a refreshing change from the norm. Just ask Aqib Talib, or, better yet, John Randle.