Pick ready for new life at receiver

As soon as the words "Kale Pick" and "wide receiver" were uttered publicly last season, they were almost immediately joined by two more - "Kerry Meier."

The comparisons were, one supposes, inevitable. Both were highly-touted dual-threat quarterback talents out of high school, noted for their speed and agility as well as their throwing arms.

Meier, who was famously supplanted by Todd Reesing after just one season under center. He transitioned to wide receiver, and proceeded to stamp his name all over the Kansas record books, parlaying a professional career with the Atlanta Falcons out of his 2-and-a-half years at the position.

Pick's own career under center followed a similar - if abbreviated - path. Viewed as Reesing's heir apparent, the Dodge City, Kan. native won the starting job out of fall camp, but his grip on it never seemed exceedingly secure. One season-opening loss to a 1-AA foe later, and the reigns were handed to sophomore Jordan Webb, who now appears close to establishing an iron grip on the spot despite battling injury and some inconsistency of his own in 2010.

But are the comparisons entirely fair to Pick? Expectations to perform at the level of Meier are quite the weight to place on the young man's shoulders, no matter how talented he may be.

According to wide receivers coach David Beaty - who helped Meier reach his full potential - they may not be too far off the mark.

"Kale Pick, unbelievable player for me right now at the inside receiver position," Beaty said during a June interview. "He's a smart guy, very savvy. He reminds me a lot of Kerry Meier, a whole lot of Kerry Meier, in his ability to make that transition. Very good hands, a lot of savvy and he just understands how to get open."

For Pick's part, he welcomes the comparisons with open arms, and not just because Meier was an outstanding wide receiver on the field.

"What I really liked about Kerry was his work ethic," the junior explained. "I mean, obviously he had talent, but what really showed out was his work ethic and I think that's the reason why he's in the NFL today, succeeding right now, is that he was the hardest worker on our team when he was here."

During the off-season, those who followed Kansas football players via social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter assuredly saw frequent references to how difficult the summer workouts had become. The results were apparent Tuesday at the football program's annual Media Day event, where virtually every player to engage reporters appeared noticeably more muscular and fit than the year before.

That goes for Pick as well, but does he believe he successfully took up Meier's torch in the weight room and on the turf of Memorial Stadium, running 100-yard sprints under the blazing summer sun?

"I think so," he said. "I think I'm one of the hardest workers on this team. I remember back when kerry was here, I remember I was always trying to compete with Kerry in sprints and shuttles and runs and stuff. We always competed together, so looking back that's kind of funny now."

The summer of 2011 was a new experience for Pick, as some of the nuances of training to be a wide receiver as opposed to a quarterback made themselves apparent.

Basically, he explained, he's had to be in a lot better shape - the better to run routes for an entire game - and stronger physically - the better to block defensive backs and make an impact in the running game.

Aside from the physical challenges, there's the mental aspect to consider as well. Many players enter college with their hearts set on playing a specific position - quarterbacks, it seems, more than most.

But at this point, Pick is all in as a wideout, and looking forward to seeing what the position can do in 2011 with its upgraded depth and talent.

"I just want to show up every day, work hard, get in good positions for our team to win and go out there and try my best," he said. "I just want to be a contributor to our team."

"I'm having a lot of fun," he added. "And I'm just ready for the season to get kicked off and ready to go."

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