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August 22, 2012The newest face to the secondary in practice is JaCorey Shepherd. Once again he traded his blue jersey for a white one. In practice the defense wears white and offense blue.
Last year Shepherd turned in a 100-yard performance with two touchdowns against McNeese State in his first game as a Jayhawk. He was one 10 true freshmen to play last season, and now is getting a look as a defensive back.
"He's got good change of direction and can do some good things," said defensive backs coach Clint Bowen. "There is a big learning curve and he's been thrown to the fire a little bit on learning what everyone else took 20-21 practices to learn. He's getting it thrown at him in two or three practices. He's handling it well and doing the best he can right now."
Charlie Weis handles all personnel decisions and brought the move to the defensive staff. Bowen and defensive coordinator Dave Campo seemed pleased on Wednesday night what they have seen from Shepherd.
Young corners battling for spots
Greg Brown and Tyler Patmon appear to have a strong hold on the cornerback spot. After that the help is going to have to come from some of the new players.
Along with Shepherd there is strong competition at the number two spots. Some of those players will likely see action.
"Tyree Williams is really battling in there and stepped up," Bowen said. "He has figured things out quickly and competing. Greg Allen is still working hard going in there. We've added JaCorey who is in the mix. Nasir is still battling. Where we are depth-wise all those guys are going to have to factor in at some point in time"
Special teams are important
Bowen said Weis makes it a point to let everyone know how important special teams are. He said some players know it is a way to get noticed. This year there are some that will have a strong role mainly on special teams.
"We are getting a core group of guys for special teams," Bowen said. "There are some kids that will be their primary role. The more those you get that truly buy into it makes you think back to the days of Derek Fine and Brandon McAnderson. Guys that didn't play early, but found their role in special teams and take pride in it. Then the team takes pride in it."
Doherty looking strong
Weis said over the summer they had competition on campus to challenge for the special team position. So far Ron Doherty has been up to the challenge. Although Doherty doesn't have much down time handling so many duties, Bowen likes what he sees.
"We are fortunate to have him," Bowen said of Doherty. "We would like to limit some of his duties but right now he continues to the best at all three spots. Some guys are competing but Doherty has really matured and taken a leadership role among the special teams. He's embraced that he's the guy. He needs to keep working and keep focused. He's got a chance to have a special year."