Sims Wants More

James Sims burst onto the major college football scene last season as an impact freshman running back at Kansas.

He rushed for team highs of 742 yards and nine touchdowns (10 total TDs), the fourth-most yards by a Jayhawk freshman in school history and eighth among NCAA freshmen in 2010. Sims recorded three 100-yard rushing games (including his debut game against No. 15 Georgia Tech), tied for second-most by a freshman in KU annals.

And he also tied school records with four touchdowns and 24 points in KU's historic comeback victory over Colorado.

But now entering his sophomore season, James Sims wants more. Much more.

He's aiming to become just the 11th player in KU history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in a season.

"It's been my goal ever since last season ended," Sims said at KU Media Day on Aug. 9. "I'm pretty confident. The offensive line has gotten better. We've gotten better as an offensive unit just moving the ball and everything."

Sims, who started four games last season, should get plenty of opportunities to crack 1,000 yards as the team's top running back. But even though he'll be the starter, Sims isn't taken anything for granted as KU kicks off its season opener on Saturday at 6 p.m. (CT) against McNeese State at Memorial Stadium.

"It makes me work harder," Sims said. "Coach (Turner) Gill made it clear that you got to continue to earn it and work hard and push myself to get better."

The 6-foot, 206-pound Sims knows he'll get some help in the backfield with guys like freshman Darian Miller and redshirt freshman Brandon Bourbon, who are both listed second on the depth chart. Freshman burner Anthony Pierson should also be in the mix for playing time.

"We got a lot of talent at running back," Sims said. "We're all going to need a lot of running backs this season because we're going to run the ball heavily. I feel that's what you need is the running game to start well and then that opens up the passing game."

As Sims said, the running game should be bolstered by an improved offensive line, which includes a quicker and lighter Jeremiah Hatch (he's lost 35 pounds) and the return of Jeff Spikes, who sat out last season with a leg injury.

"Without them (O-line), we would be nothing," Sims said. "They're opening up some big holes this fall. I'm just hoping it carries over to the season."

Sims hopes to run through those holes as a faster running back who "worked on my burst and my cuts" during the offseason. And that hard work could pay big dividends for him and the Jayhawks this fall.

"He's focused," Gill said. "He has a good approach every day about coming to work, getting better, talking to (running backs) coach (Reggie) Mitchell, talking to myself and the things he needs to do to be the best running back, not only at the University of Kansas, but hopefully in the Big 12 Conference."

While he had a major impact last season and is the team's top running back again this year, Sims said he's still the same humble young man who arrived at Mount Oread in 2010 after a stellar career at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas.

Sims, who patterns his game after NFL stars Reggie Bush and Adrian Peterson, is also confident and optimistic about a big season ahead after having one of the best freshman seasons by a running back in school history.

"That was my goal coming from high school to play right way and it happened," Sims said. "It's a blessing. I'm just going to continue to build from it and work hard and just get better."

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