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August 4, 2012When the horn blows and everyone goes to the stretching line it doesn't take long to see the person in charge during that time. Dayne Crist, Tanner Hawkinson, and Toben Opurum stand in front of the group as team captains, but everybody is zeroed in on strength and conditioning coach Scott Holsopple.
During the warm-ups he is vocal and has all of the player's attention. Trust me there are S&C coaches out there who don't have the attention of all the players like he does. When they broke away from stretching and into running he was getting on a few guys and they responded fast. You can tell he has the players respect.
The proof is how good many players look and the way they have transformed their bodies in just months.
With limited time to watch groups after warm-ups I focused on the linebackers and defensive backs. There hasn't been a lot of talk about the linebacker unit but it may be the one with the most fierce competition. During drills not one player took a drill off. They were going 100 percent at all times. The most vocal was Anthony McDonald. That might be expected since he is a fifth-year senior from Notre Dame.
Watching them closely you can tell they are battling for starting jobs. Tunde Bakare was really moving well. Right now he is sitting on top of the depth chart at the SAM spot. But you talk about a battle to watch is middle linebacker. Schyler Miles is an intense player who is a good enough athlete to play outside. Right now he is locked in a battle for the second string spot with Darius Willis. McDonald is number one on the depth chart right now.
To show you the improvement that is being made in the program, last year Willis started all 12 games. There is a chance he could be the third-string backer depending on how August practices turn out.
At the will spot I think Shelby has the most explosiveness but he is still learning the system. Again you have a great battle brewing with Huldon Tharp, Shelby, and Ben Heeney. This is the first time I focused on Shelby and he is a little light in the frame but he can run.
Today we met with the defensive backs. They talked about the competition and how some of the new players are really stepping up. Tevin Shaw is fighting for the back-up spot and is the one name all the returning players are most impressed with at safety.
As I watched the DBs and LBs the one thing that kept coming back in my head is how strong the competition is this year at certain spots and some that were contributors last year could be fighting just to stay on the two deep.
During drills with the secondary Dave Campo and Clint Bowen were both coaching. That is a strong group of coaches and there was a lot of instruction going on. Most teams only have one coach, coaching the secondary. Not only does Kansas have two, they are both very good. The one thing the secondary won't be is poorly coached.