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July 26, 2011

Several new players stand out

One of the biggest questions Kansas football fans have during the summer is what newcomers have looked good during workouts. Since the coaches can't be there in the summer and there are few media interviews, it is a mystery to what players may be standing out.

There is nobody better to ask than the three seniors that represented Kansas during the Big 12 media days in Dallas.

Last season Steven Johnson led the team in tackles from his linebacker position and one player that quickly caught his attention is Tunde Bakare.

"Probably my roommate Tunde Bakare," Johnson said of promising new players. "He just came from Highland (Community College). He's a fast player. He's a good player. He's explosive and has a good work ethic. He doesn't talk much. He's had some family issues and it really serves as a motivator for him. He's always focused and ready to go out there. He's like, 'I'm here, I'm Division I. I came from a juco and I'm here.' That's kind of how I was. I can relate to him. It's time to play."

Shortly before Bakare left for Kansas he went through a difficult time dealing with the death of his older brother, Omoniyi Bakare. He was a high school standout before going on to Fairmount State in college. Bakare has made it clear that he uses his brother as inspiration and motivation to get better.

Bakare's efforts have been noticed by more than his current roommate. Kansas tight end Tim Biere threw out Bakare's name when asked about the new faces on the team.

"Tunde, a juco guy from Kansas, he looks like a physical specimen and he's freakishly fast," Biere said. "He'll make a good contribution."

Johnson is sticking with the linebackers when he continued to talk about what players have caught his attention. In a sense he has taken linebacker Colin Garrett under his wings.

"I like Collin Garrett, nobody knows about him," Johnson said. "But every day he's like, 'Hey, Steve, what do I have to do? What do I have to do to be like you?' I'm like, 'To be like me? Why do you want to be like me?' He says, 'because you're the man.' I tell him, 'Man, you're better than me when I was your age.' It's just kind of cool when people look up to you. There's a lot of hard work going on. I'm pretty sure this program is going to turn around pretty fast."

There were others that Biere mentioned and this time he went with players coming from the high school level. All three were signees from the Kansas City area.

"Darrian Miller is new but he's been here all spring, so we're all used to him," Biere said. "He had a good spring. Adonis Saunders and Victor Simmons have both been really good. They're track athletes."

Last week Daymond Patterson said via Twitter that this was the best recruiting class he has seen since arriving at Kansas. They have come in and pushed the older players during summer workouts. Jeremiah Hatch talked about the group overall before making his prediction.

"They're all good," Hatch said. "The competition, even when they're doing bad in a drill, you can see they're competing. They're going to scratch and claw to try and win. Those are the kinds of guys you want beside you. I'm going to make them mad at me if they see this but I'm going with Adonis Saunders on defense and Darrian Miller on offense."

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