Following is a report on the Jayhawk Conference Pre-Season Football Coaches Press Conference, which was held on Saturday. The event lets the media hear from each coach in the conference and learn about impact players. Many thanks to Gary Cheatham for attending the event and passing along his thoughts for use on the website.
Predicted order of finish for the 2002 season as voted by the coaches before the press conference:
2. Garden City
2. (tie) Butler County
3. Fort Scott
5. Dodge City
The coaches were diplomatic, as usual, with nobody wanting to say anything that would appear on any bulletin boards. You might call this talk, "Poor mouthing," "Laying behind a log," or "don't piss anyone off."
Following are observations based on each coach's comments and information in the media guides...
Note: We listed most of the players mentioned by coaches at the press conference. Not all of them.
They lost 19 starters. They only have 18 returning players from last year's squad. The offensive line is re-tooling in a big way. Leading the offense will be either an average sophomore quarterback or an incoming freshman. Athlete Damien Nash could even take a few snaps at QB. The Red Ravens, of course, have three imposing tailbacks in Brandon Jacobs, Nash, and Shermar Bracey. This team will be tested early with an opening road game at NE Oklahoma A&M, whose defense should be stout.
RB Brandon Jacobs (6-4, 245; So.)
Notes: 1,151 yards, 16 TDs, 4.5 forty. Could end up a rush end at the next level. Committed to LSU over Auburn.
RB/Ath Damien Nash (5-11, 200; RS-Fr.)
Notes: Signed with Missouri out of high school and has maintained that commitment. Could and may line up at RB, QB, DB, and KR.
RB Shermar Bracey (6-2, 220; Fr.)
Notes: Placed by Arkansas. A track star in high school.
DL Darrell Shropshire (6-3, 272; So.)
Notes: Committed to South Carolina. Runs a 4.89 forty.
#2 BUTLER COUNTY
It sounded strange to hear Coach Morrell say his weakness on offense is at the skill positions. Strength on offense is the O-line. The defensive strength is in the secondary whereas its weakness is the front seven and overall depth. The Grizzlies' quarterback could end up being Jake Hammond, who began at Oklahoma State and then followed his position coach to Illinois. He has no game experience and will be challenged by a freshman from the state of South Carolina.
LB Marcus Lawrence (6-3, 240; So.)
Notes: Committed to South Carolina.
TE Kody Miller (6-3, 250; So.)
DE J.J. Grant (6-3, 255; So.)
Notes: Played at Hinds CC two years ago. Committed to Mississippi State.
OT Fred Lillich (6-3, 290; So.)
LB Lee Foliaki (6-2, 230)
Notes: Committed to Colorado. Working hard in the classroom over the summer.
#2 (tie) GARDEN CITY
Coach Bob Larson did not mention any of his incoming out-of-state freshmen or the quarterback coming from Georgia Military. If he had, the coaches may have asked to re-cast their votes.
RB Tyson Thompson (6-1, 201; So.)
RB Kay Jay Harris (6-0, 240; So.)
CB Corey Reddick (5-9, 160; So.)
CB Cedrick Williams (5-10, 175; So.)
Notes: Is one of the most highly sought after corners in the nation.
#3 FORT SCOTT
An assistant coach was sent to talk and mentioned that the Scotties' offense would be a concern.
LB Damien Batiste (6-1, 220; So.)
DB Nick Barrows (5-8, 185; So.)
OL Adam Clements (6-4, 300; So.)
DE Josh Clark (6-1, 240; So.)
DE Bryan Newbie (6-4, 245; So.)
DB Melvin Vance (6-0, 200; So.)
Coach David Wheeler's squad returns only 15 players. Strengths are: coaching staff, defense, and special teams. Weaknesses: low numbers, no depth on offense with concerns at OL, QB, and WR.
RB Antwaun Guidry (6-1, 210; RS-Fr.)
Notes: A phenom in high school. Placed by Nebraska. Could be a difference maker.
DL Shaun Jones (6-4, 285; So.)
RB Tavon Harris (6-0, 210; So.)
LB Dexter Falls (6-0, 210; So.)
DL Carlton Glover (6-0, 290; So.)
DB Adrian Mitchell (6-0, 190; So.)
#5 DODGE CITY
The Conqs will have twelve good out-of-staters, but in order to win in the Jayhawk Conference teams also need good in-state guys. Dodge City isn't as strong in this area. A possible difference-maker is a RS-Fr. quarterback, Walter Washington (6-2, 245; 4.55 forty), who was placed by Florida State. The team's biggest improvement will be at wide receiver.
RB Gerard Jackson (5-11, 240; So.)
Notes: Top rusher in the conference last year. Very accomplished in high school (Florida).
CB Reynaldo Hill (6-1, 185; So.)
Notes: A track athlete who runs a 4.3 forty. Top schools are recruiting him.
OT Woodley Telfort (6-7, 300; RS-Fr.)
Notes: A University of Pittsburgh signee out of HS.
WR Derrick Higgins (6-4, 195; RS-Fr.)
Notes: A Clemson signee.
LB Leon Cesar (6-1, 225; So.)
A player we'd been hearing a lot about, wide receiver Henry Powell, will not be back. Quarterback B.J. Mills may not be back either. Highland will throw out of the shotgun. The defense is thought to be stronger than in 2001, especially at the linebacker spot.. The offensive line will be all freshmen. Coach Marty Allen's squad will be real thin at quarterback unless Mills returns.
OL David Sharp (6-3, 290; So.)
LB Sam Crawford (6-2, 250; So.)
LB Steve Jeffers (6-2, 250; So.)
CB Verlee McCullough (6-0, 185; So.)
Head coach Kent Keith has a great secondary, but other parts of the defense are questionable. Their numbers are up over last year. Also, Indy will have some excellent out-of-staters.
TE Ray Gurley (6-5, 250; Soph. transfer)
Notes: Bounceback from Pittsburg State. Coach may split him wide on occasion. Showed very well at the JCFootball.com combine in Texas last April.
CB Eric Fuller (6-2, 195; So.)
FS LeUndo Adams (6-2, 220; So.)
Notes: Probably the best safety in the conference. Big-time.
QB Forrest Mazey (6-2, 200; So.)
C Kyle Fulmer (6-3, 300; So.)
OG Elliott Berry (6-4, 315; So.)
Look for JCFootball.com / JC Grid-Wire, along with Gary Cheatham, to make a joint prediction on the conference this week, too.