Among returners, juniors Travis Watkins (tackle) and David McMillan (end) are the returners to watch up front. Watkins, who has played both end and tackle in his KU career, started all 12 games last season and finished the year with 37 tackles, two tackles for loss, four pass breakups and five quarterback hurries. McMillan was the Jayhawks' fifth-leading tackler last season with 55 total stops, nine tackles for loss and a team-best 12 quarterback hurries.
But unquestionably, the defensive side of the ball is where Mangino figures his newcomers may immediately contribute--particularly the junior college transfers. One name to keep on the tip of your tongue may be transfer Chuck Jones, a big, physical specimen--he was trimming down from 280 in summer--who Mangino wants to use at defensive end.
"The junior college players that are coming in here in the summer, we think all of them are very good players, and we're hoping many of them will contribute in a hurry," Mangino said. "But you just don't know that (if they will contribute) until they get here and get into our program and into our routine.
"I feel good about the kids that we put on the field in the spring on defense that made some tremendous strides. I'd be lying to you if I told you we aren't anticipating some help from the junior college guys that are coming in here for the fall semester."
The graduations of Greg Cole and Leo Etienne, who combined for 202 tackles, 27 tackles for loss and six sacks last fall, leave this a young unit.
But thankfully for Kansas, outside backer Banks Floodman is healthy again and ready to rumble. Floodman, who sat out last season after suffering a season-ending injury in the opener at Iowa State, made 41 tackles as a true freshman in 2001 while appearing in all 11 games and starting the final two contests. He's now a good 20 pounds stronger than as a true frosh, at an impressive 6-3, 230 pounds.
Joining Floodman are sophomores Kevin Kane, Brandon Perkins and Darren Rus. Kane, 6-1, 220, had the middle spot at the end of spring, while Perkins (6-1, 220) had the other outside spot. Backups were Rus and juniors Greg Tyree and Gabe Toomey.
Three of four starters, including cornerbacks Remuise Johnson and Donnie Amadi and strong safety Zach Dyer--permanently switched from quarterback--return, but that doesn't mean they'll be starting this fall. For instance, juco transfer Jonathan Lamb, who had an impressive spring, will look to make an instant impact this fall.
Johnson, a senior, picked off six passes in 2002 and registered 40 tackles and a team-high 15 pass breakups.
Dyer, who played for two and a half years at quarterback, made an immediate impact in the Jayhawk secondary totaling 48 tackles in just five games in the backfield. The 6-2, 210-pound safety started four of five games and was the Jayhawks' leading tackler in two contests in addition to recording double-figure tackles in three of five games.
Donnie Amadi started the first 10 games for KU, recording 41 tackles, including 32 solo stops.
Prior to the spring, sophomore Nick Reid and senior Dan Coke were moved to strong safety to help provide depth and athleticism to the position. Reid ranks as the Jayhawks' top returning tackler from last season after appearing in 12 games and starting the final six contests at outside linebacker. The Derby, Kan., native tallied a team-high six sacks and had 62 total tackles last year. Reid was recently moved back to the linebacker position again.