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August 10, 2010
Nobody has emerged at running back
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While most eyes are focused on the battle at quarterback there are several other positions in the same situation. One of them is running back.
So far through the early days of fall camp several players are getting reps and fighting to emerge at the top of the depth chart. Going into media day there was no depth chart released. That's okay because it probably wouldn't mean a lot right now.
On Sunday the Jayhawks went through their first scrimmage with helmets and pads. With camp about a week old the race is wide open.
"James Sims did some good things, Brandon Bourbon did some good things, and so far Rell Lewis and Toben Opurum have done some things," said running backs coach Reggie Mitchell. "That's probably been the hard part is everybody is just there. Nobody has jumped out to make you go 'wow'". Nobody has jumped out there and said this is my job."
The players return to the field on Tuesday after getting a break on Monday. Then they will get another chance this weekend to try and make their case. After each practice the coaching staff and players break down the film. Mitchell and the offensive staff are keeping their eyes open to see who may emerge as the top back.
"We are still trying to figure it out," Mitchell said. "You'd hope a guy would be able to emerge but so far that hasn't happened. We have to just keep going and we have a scrimmage this weekend and hopefully one of those guys will step out and take charge."
When it comes to pure numbers Opurum brings solid credentials with 550 yards from last season. Outside of that the other five have a combined career total of 89 carries. If someone can mold the position into a solid group it is Mitchell.
Looking back over his career he has coaches and developed several quality backs. In his first stop at Kansas he coached June Henley and L.T. Levine. At Minnesota Mitchell coached Thomas Hamner who is one of two backs in school history to lead the team in rushing four straight seasons. At Michigan State he recruited and coached T.J. Duckett. His last stop was Illinois where he had standouts like Pierre Thomas and Rashard Mendenhall.
"Coach Mitchell knows the running backs position as good as there is," said offensive coordinator Chuck Long. "He doesn't know just how to teach the fundamentals but where they need to be and what to do."
Kansas head coach Turner Gill announced that Lewis will miss between two and three weeks with an injury. That means the competition as the season draws near will shrink by one running back. It all starts this morning as two-a-days start back up.
"Hopefully the competition is making all of them go out there and get after it," Mitchell said. "You'd like to have an every down back but if not you will have to do it by committee. Not having a number one guy gets more players in the mix. There are some good players there they just have to do it on a consistent basis. They have to jump out and do something and do more than just be average."