Webb With a Mentor

On the first play of Anthony Webb's collegiate starting debut, he was burned. Bad. South Florida's Marcus Edwards turned Webb around on a double-move and quarterback Matt Grothe hit Edwards for a 29-yard gain.

“Nah, I wasn’t worried,” said cornerback Aqib Talib. “We all get beat on a double-move every now and then. I just wanted to see him come back and make plays.”

Make plays he did. By the end of the game, Anthony Webb didn’t look the part of freshman, after collecting five tackles and breaking up a pass in Kansas’s 13-7 victory.

“When I first got out there, I was pretty tense,” Webb said. “I had to get the first game jitters out. After I got those out, it started going better, and we got the win.”

Talib said he was surprised that Webb was nervous. At South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas, Tex., Webb was one of the top cornerbacks in the state, listed as number 22 on the Dallas Morning News’ list of top 100 recruits.

Following a monster junior season that saw Webb collect first team All-State honors after leading the state in interceptions with 11, Webb, along with teammate Xavier Rambo, committed early to Kansas.

Talib said he made an early impression.

“I remember way back in the summertime when he first got here and we did 7-on-7 drills,” Talib said. “We let the freshmen go against the freshmen, and he was making all kinds of plays against the rest of the freshmen. At that time, I knew he was going to be a real good player here, because he’s a playmaker.”

Still, freshmen don’t typically start at Kansas, and especially not early in the year.

“The speed of the game was a whole lot faster than high school,” Webb said. “That was the main change, the speed. Once you get used to that, you feel a lot better.”

Webb found himself behind Blake Bueltel on the depth chart, but the 6-foot-1, 175-pound freshman said he kept plugging away and working hard.

“I felt like I could play right away,” Webb said. “But I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I was going to have to go out and earn it. We have to practice hard every game, and when my shot came, I took it.”

After the South Florida game, Mangino said Webb, one of the highest touted recruits in his tenure, won the spot at cornerback.

Webb said the secondary was starting to come together.

“I feel that we’re really good,” Webb said. “We all get in there and rotate, and whenever it’s our turn to make a play, we have to go in there and make it.”

As for Webb’s early grab on the starting job, he credited coach Earnest Collins and Mangino for getting him ready. He also said when he got in trouble again, he knew what to do.

“I’ll just watch Aqib,” Webb said. “I just try to do what he does.”

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