Weis sees impact potential in Ragone

Finding film of Mike Ragone in action at Cherry Hill (NJ) Camden Catholic isn't easy. He was in the Class of 2007 after all, and the business of covering recruiting has changed a lot since then. Search hard enough, however, and it's out there - and it's fun to watch. After a hard-luck battle with injuries at Notre Dame, he's hoping ot fulfill that potential with Kansas.

Finding high school film of Mike Ragone in action isn't easy.

He was in the Class of 2007 after all, and the business of covering recruiting has come a long way since then. Even players ranked among the top 100 in their class at that time could usually only hope for a minute or so of grainy, VHS transfer footage to make its way online.

Search hard enough, however, and it's out there. And it's fun to watch.

Amid the tracking lines and questionable focus are glimpses of a 6-foot-4, 220-pound tight end catching passes and simply outrunning everyone on the defense to the end zone. It actually looks a little unnatural, someone that big moving that much more quickly than his competition. When he committed to Notre Dame, his future as an impact player seemed all but certain.

But the problem with unexpected injuries is that they're…well…unexpected. And they usually have little regard for things like "potential" and "planned success."

During the past six years, dating back to his final year at Cherry Hill (NJ) Camden Catholic, Ragone has suffered three season-ending knee injuries - the most recent coming just two games into the 2011 season.

That type of bad luck is the sort of thing that could eventually keep a player down and out, but not Ragone, who kept picking himself up off the mat and working himself back into the mix. It's an attitude that eventually led him to Kansas for the 2012 season - his last - after graduating from Notre Dame in May.

And it's probably a big reason why Weis spoke of him with such obvious affection during Wednesday's first press conference of the fall.

"Mike is a legend in his own mind," he said, laughing. "He'll be a great interview. You guys will love Mike."

Unsurprisingly, Ragone is listed as the starting tight end on the first depth chart. As one of a handful senior transfers into the program - players able to participate immediately in their final year of eligibility as they have graduated from their previous institutions - he didn't choose Kansas to sit the bench. He came to Mount Oread to play.

But what are the Jayhawks getting in him? After all, this is a player who caught 11 total passes during four seasons, though he was on the field and in the action a great deal when he was healthy.

Now 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, he's assuredly a different player than he was five years ago. A different athlete. But to Weis, that makes him no less valuable to what Kansas is trying to achieve right now.

Because he's motivated. He's hungry. He knows this is his last shot to prove what he can do, and potentially find a home at the next level.

"He has had a very unfortunate career, because every time he's gotten in position to be in contention he's gotten an injury," Weis said. "So knock on wood that that's not the case. I think that Mike could be one of the people who helps us as much as anyone on offense, as long as we stay healthy."

"And right now," he added. "He's as healthy as he's been in a long time."


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