Weight, Speed, Position

During KU Media Day Wednesday, there were several themes present, from the extra intensity of the players to the tough schedule. But three of the most talked about were body weight, team speed and position changes.


Several players announced their weights on Wednesday. Mark Mangino said Charlton Keith, his newly qualified defensive end, weighs in at around 218 pounds, a tad light for a Big 12 Conference defensive end. Travis Watkins, listed at 295 pounds in the media guide, said he weighed 310 pounds. Clark Green looked to have lost some weight, while Mark Simmons said the receivers each put on between 20-30 pounds to become more physical. Mangino said he would like to have the 175-pound Charles Gordon at 180 pounds by the start of the year.

Gabe Toomey said he weighed 239 pounds, just four pounds up from last season's listed weight of 235. But Toomey said he actually only weighed 225 pounds last season, a reason for his many shoulder injuries playing on the inside. Toomey said much of the weight he put on was in the shoulder/upper body region.

Rodney Harris, the safety who has been a physical presence throughout practice, weighs just 175 pounds, prompting Clint Bowen to compare him with Kwame Lassiter, another lanky hard-hitter.


Mangino asserted that the team was much faster, especially on defense. Clint Bowen said the speed at safety was a major upgrade. He said that Tony Stubbs had gotten much faster but that Harris was the fastest safety, followed by Stubbs and Rodney Fowler. Travis Watkins boasted that defensive end David McMillan could outrun several of the defensive backs.

Nick Quartaro said that two of the incoming freshman, quarterback Marcus Herford and running back Gary Green possessed outstanding speed and quickness. Herford, Quartaro said, could run with many wide receivers. Quartaro also said that two of the five fastest 40-yard-dash times this year came from wide receivers Brandon Rideau and Mark Simmons. This is a good sign following a season Nebraska's defensive backs ragged on the Jayhawks for a lack of breakaway speed.

Mangino said last season that Simmons, Kansas' premier deep threat, possessed just "deceptive speed." If Simmons is indeed as fast as advertised, he could give the Jayhawks a way to stretch the field to give room to the possession passing game. When asked who was faster, him or Rideau, Simmons smiled.

"Oh, I'm definitely faster," Simmons said. "He's right behind me, but I'm faster.


Mangino said that he would like to move Gordon back to wide receiver if the cornerbacks developed. Bowen said he didn't expect that to happen anytime soon. John Randle said he enjoyed defense and would move back again if asked.

Mangino talked about how Jonathan Lamb was starting to succeed and seemed to have found a home at wide receiver. Greg Heaggans, the second team wide receiver behind Rideau and return man extraordinaire, talked about just trying to fill a position. Gary Green said he was just trying to contribute this season.

But perhaps the best statement about changing positions came when Watkins was asked if he ever played defensive end. Watkins patted his belly and said, "I've always been a defensive tackle.

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