Through the first several days of fall camp, there is one thing certain about the Kansas offensive line in 2013 versus what last season's unit. In 2013, the line is stronger and more physical, thanks in large part to an influx of new talent via junior college transfers.
Early on, it seems as if the newcomers to the Jayhawk program are making their presence felt, as the intensity has been turned up a notch all in the name of competition, which is the common theme among the unit.
"I think Ngalu (Fusimalohi) and Mike Smithburg have both come in here with an attitude," offensive line coach Tim Grunhard said. "They're used to winning, they come from winning programs, they come from places that have won a lot of football games and they have that attitude and they have that toughness."
Grunhard is also a fan of Zach Fondal, who along with Fusimalohi and Smithburg, have brought a certain toughness and nastiness to the line, as a whole and that has only made the others better.
It's all part of what head coach Charlie Weis intended when he signed the high amount of junior college transfers and he made no bones about it. He was seeking to upgrade the overall talent level of the team, while challenging everyone else to raise their own standing through competition.
The nice blend of new talent and the challenge from their coach, have only gone to make the entire group tighter as summer has given way to fall camp.
"I think we're just closer as a group," sophomore Damon Martin said. "We learned how to work a lot harder this summer through group conditioning. We spent so much time outside running as a team and because it was so much harder, we had to use each other to push through it, so I think that brought the entire team together, not just the o-line."
Up front, the growth of the mentality and character of the offensive line can be seen each day, whether a player is a returner or brand new to the program and as camp moves along, it's clear that this year's line will be an entirely different group that the one that's stepped onto the field in 2012. For as close as the group was a year ago, in 2013, it could be a closer one that will form and even tighter bond which could lead to good results on the field.
"The biggest thing about football, is going through this grind with each other, that's the biggest way to develop a bond and turn into a family and people underestimate that, but that's what really develops it," junior transfer Mike Smithburg said.
If the first few days of camp are any indication, this year's Kansas offensive line could surprise some, continuing the theme that the rest of the team has taken, as they know they are being given very little shot to do much this season, something that has helped to form a big chip on their shoulders in preparation for the season, which begins September 7 against South Dakota.