It's funny how quickly things can change.
There was certainly no shortage of on-the-field difficulties for the University of Kansas football team in 2009. Inconsistent quarterback and offensive line play, pass-rushing issues and injuries to the linebacker corps are just a few items on the list.
But Jayhawk fans have grown used to the running back position being one of strength in recent years. The likes of Jon Cornish, Brandon McAnderson and Jake Sharp have all been responsible for sleepless nights on the part of opposing defenses coordinators and fans since 2005.
Perhaps that's why, as a once-promising season began an inexorable downhill slide, the injuries that plagued Kansas running backs in 2009 seemed all the more devastating.
Jake Sharp, expected to challenge for All Big-12 honors, went down with a leg injury in mid-September. Freshman Toben Opurum – a workhorse in the truest sense of the word – eventually succumbed to a leg injury he suffered early in the Big 12 schedule, sitting out the season finale against the Missouri Tigers.
With Sharp's departure and Opurum's health in question, many were wondering from where the rushing yards would come under new head coach Turner Gill.
Well, just a few months later, it looks as if that question may have been answered.
In addition to the brawny Opurum, reminiscent of the Nebraska power backs of Gill's Cornhusker heyday, National Signing Day 2010 saw the Jayhawks bring a pair of highly-touted running backs into the fold, in the forms of Brandon Bourbon and James Sims.
A few weeks ago they added another, this time for the 2011 recruiting class, in 2009 Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year Darrian Miller – a versatile back who rushed for 2,800 yards and 37 touchdowns as a junior with the Blue Springs High School Wildcats in 2009.
Now, it looks like another thoroughbred may be ready to join the stable. Enter Wichita (KS) Heights standout Dreamius Smith.
"He'd rather run over you than run around you," said Falcons assistant coach Jeff Topping. "But he does have the speed to run around you as well."
In Heights modified single-wing offense, Smith plays the role of the fullback. But don't let that fool you, Topping added, as he possesses plenty of home-run potential.
Standing 6-feet-0 and weighing in at 205-pounds, Smith owns a 40-yard dash time in the 4.4-second range. That athleticism showed in 2009, as the Falcons would make an improbable run to the Class 6A state championship game, in which Smith rushed for more than 1,400 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Familiar with the Kansas program during the tenure of former head coach Mark Mangino, Smith saw renewed interest shown to him virtually the moment Gill and Co. hit the recruiting trail. The Jayhawks were the first to offer, and he's formed a close bond with safeties coach Robert Wimberly, the staff member handling his recruitment.
"I like all the staff," Smith said. "I like Coach Wimberly a lot. He's a funny guy and we're always clowning around on the phone."
Rumors have been swirling of late that Smith may commit to the Jayhawks this weekend, on an unofficial visit to the Lawrence campus for the start of Spring Football.
Are the rumors true? If so, not only would the Jayhawks add another talented Kansas prospect to their pool of running backs, but for Smith it would be the fulfillment of a dream.
"Yeah, there's a little truth to it," he said. "It's a possibility. I like them, and that's where I've always been wanting to go since I was a little boy. So if it happens, it happens."