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August 15, 2013

TE group grows into tight unit

Jimmay Mundine and Trent Smiley the group of tight ends at Kansas. They're pretty friendly now, but it sure didn't start that way. They were competitors in Texas when Mundine played for Denison High School and Smiley lined up for Wakeland.

"We blew them out in high school," Mundine said. "He knows."

Smiley confirmed the story with a disapproving nod.

"That gets brought up at least once a week, he loves that conversation," Smiley said. "I remember lining up against him senior year, or even junior year, of high school and we kind of got into it, the ref gave us a warning."

With those days far behind them, the two juniors have turned their competition into camaraderie.

"There's never been a play where Jimmay has caught the ball and I wasn't the most excited one on the field and I know that he is the same exact way," Smiley said.

They've even spent time giving each other pointers in practice. Mundine, whose strength is route running and catching has been working to improve his blocking and Smiley works on his route running and catching since his biggest strength is blocking.

"We joke that if we could ever stick the two of us together we would be unstoppable, we would be the world's greatest tight end," Smiley said. "We do a great job of being able to lean on each other. When I'm out there and a pass play is called, I do what I do then I come back and say, 'hey, how was that, what can I improve on?' and when he comes back and it's a run play he can say, 'how was that, what can I do better?' So much of this game at this level, you have to be able to see what other people are doing and be able to mirror that, to reproduce that."

Tight ends coach Jeff Blasko said Smiley's biggest offseason improvements have come mostly on the mental side of the game.

"He has a very good understanding of our offensive system so he has some versatility in terms of position flexibility," Blasko said. "He can play the F, he can play the Y, he can play a number of different spots. He understands our offense very well and works hard. I'm glad we have him."

As for Mundine, he said the changes have been mostly physical.

"Jimmay is in as good of shape as I've seen him in since we've been here," Blasko said. "I think he is the most complete tight end we have. He's good in the run game, he's good in the pass game."

Mundine holds the top spot in the depth chart right now with Smiley in second, redshirt freshman Jordan Shelley-Smith and freshman Ben Johnson behind them. Smiley called it the deepest tight end group he's seen in his three years at Kansas.

"I enjoy having a big group like that. I enjoy having guys that we can all work together and be a unit," Smiley said. "We all really work well together and we are all committed to helping each other in every way possible."


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