Ready To Earn It

Every KU Media Day has its theme, with this year's asking for a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Kansas Coach Mark Mangino and all of the players faced a number of questions about where the Jayhawks sat on the respect totem pole, whether it was too high, too low or just about right. Mangino deflected several of the questions, stating that the Kansas program would compete for championships when it defeated the likes of Oklahoma or Texas. Another writer asked Mangino whether the Jayhawks' ranking of 26 in the USA Today poll was high enough, with Mangino declining to make predictions for this year's team.

Not that the respect level seems to matter to Mangino. Mangino said perceptions from within the program were more important, and added that any program that was complaining about a lack of respect probably didn't deserve it.

"If you win, you get respect," Mangino said.

Some quick hits from today's Media Day include:

* Speed Kills: Ed Warinner was quoted by ESPN stating that running back Jake Sharp ran a 40-yard dash in the 4.2-second range. As for Jake's take?

"I don't remember the exact numbers, but some of the strength coaches had me in the 4.2s, while a few of the coaches had me in the low 4.3s," Sharp said. "So I think we rounded it to a 4.3-flat or something like that."

Cornerback Daymond Patterson said Sharp's 40 was the fastest one he'd ever seen.

"It seemed like he was 10 yards down the field before he even started," Patterson said. "I don't think people around the country realize and respect Jake for how fast he really is."

Patterson was also named among the team's fastest players, along with Darrell Stuckey, Chris Harris and Greg Brown. Patterson said he ran one 40 at 4.35 and a second one at 4.41.

"We return a lot of guys on our offense and defense," Patterson said, "and those guys are now faster than they were a year ago. You can see it, especially on defense."

* Count Warinner among Tanner Hawkinson's fans: the Kansas Offensive Coordinator talked about the things that stood out about Hawkinson before moving him to tackle. Among them were Hawkinson's intelligence, athleticism and a frame that Warinner said could "easily" hold 300 pounds.

"Hey, that's a perfect guy (for left tackle)," Warinner said.

* Depth at defensive back: Mangino mentioned it, and it was seconded by Defensive Coordinator Clint Bowen. Bowen talked about newcomers Prinz Kande and Dexter Linton, and said both were players who would have started for KU just a few years ago. Now, both are fighting an uphill battle for playing time in a safety group that includes returning starters Darrell Stuckey and Phillip Strozier and backups Olaitan Oguntodu and Lubbock Smith.

"There are six guys there who are legitimate Big 12 football players," Bowen said.
Former Girard High School Safety Darian Kelly will join the Jayhawks next semester, Bowen said.

* It's not the 4-2-5 folks: Mangino explained "for the last time" that the Jayhawks will not be moving to a 4-2-5 defense as has been reported in other outlets. He said Kansas will still operate out of a base 4-3, as there are a few teams in the Big 12 who can still line up and run the ball. Instead, Mangino said the changes were minor ones within the Jayhawks' nickel pacakge, from alignment to responsibilities that won't show up for your average fan.

* Rubber stamp it: Mangino said true freshman linebacker Huldon Tharp was a strong candidate for a starting job at linebacker, and said that the coaches wanted to see him in scrimmage action before "rubber stamping" it. Linebacker Coach Bill Miller said Tharp "is a bright spot," but added that there was a long way before that first game. To win the job, he'll have to beat out an experienced player in Arist Wright. But you can color the competition impressed.

"He's a little beast," Wright said of Tharp. "He's going to take over the strong (side) spot down the line."

* The right stuff: Mangino was asked about the number of top-flight Kansas kids who have chosen to go to schools other than the one on Mt. Oread. Some, Mangino said, were nice players who chose to play elsewhere. But Mangino said the staff steered clear of others, who appeared to have "outside agendas."

"We are not an extension of PT Barnum's circus," Mangino said.

* Good decision: Mangino was also asked about other offensive tackles that he had to try to convince to play the spot, and he referenced Adrian Jones, who he said was a "mediocre" tight end. Mangino said that at first Jones didn't believe that he could make money playing tackle, as the coaches told him. Eventually, Jones came around, and he's stuck in the NFL since. Where would he be if he didn't heed the coaches' advice?

"He would have been a good insurance salesman," Mangino said.

* Bowen's defense: Mangino said that Miller would serve the same role as co-defensive coordinator as Bowen did under old defensive coordinator Bill Young. Miller will serve as a sounding board for ideas, but in the end, it's Bowen's call on how the Jayhawks play defensively.

"Clint is solid as a rock," Mangino said.

As for Bowen, he said that his first year served as a learning experience.

"You have a better sense of what to expect," Bowen said. "You're more familiar with the personnel and your comfort level continues to grow."

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