Sims improving steadily in rookie campaign

It would have been hard to dream up a bigger entrance for a freshman running back than the one James Sims made for himself at the University of Kansas.

After not playing in the Jayhawks' season opener versus North Dakota State, Sims stole the show in Week Two against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets – then the #15 team in the country. Rushing 17 times for 101 yards and a touchdown in the upset victory, such a strong performance in his collegiate debut seemed to herald the arrival of some stability to a Kansas ground game in a state of flux.

From that game forward, however, the season has been a bit of a roller-coaster for Sims, which is hardly unexpected from a freshman dealing with the rigors of the Big 12 for the first time. There have been some serious highs – like three 100-yard performances – as well as some pretty steep lows – a 10 carry, 23 yard effort in the Jayhawks' blowout loss to rival Kansas State.

But if last week is any indication, Sims' stock appears to be trending up. As one of the key cogs in the Jayhawks' stunning come-from-behind victory over the Colorado Buffaloes last Saturday, the talented freshman rushed 20 times for 123 yards and four touchdowns – including both the game-tying and game-winning scores.

Head Coach Turner Gill said this week he's been pleased by the progress Sims has made during the course of the season.

"I think there's been improvement," he said. "There was a little bit of a lull there maybe in a game or two. I think the more time he's playing, he seems like a guy that the more carries he gets maybe he gets a little stronger, and that's a good thing."

Not that there still isn't plenty of room to grow, however, In making the transition to Division One football, many talented running backs struggle with the ins and outs of protecting the quarterback, and Sims has been no different.

"That's very, very important," Gill said. "It's part of our game plan and one of the things that we need him to do. But I see him continuing to improve, understanding when he needs to make a cut, and when he needs to get to the line of scrimmage."

"He's improving every single game."


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