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October 23, 2013

Howard had to learn fast at center

On Mondays players have an off day so Gavin Howard was looking to his future after college. He spent the day interviewing for a job the week of the TCU game.

That's when he found out his future was about to soon change his senior season.

"I got a text the Monday before the TCU game that said I was going to start at center," Howard recalls. "I was actually in Wichita interviewing with Koch Industries. That's when I got the text."

Howard said he worked in pre-practice snapping the ball on Tuesday with Jake Heaps to get a head start. In five days he would get the start against TCU.

"I did pretty well and my snaps were good," Howard said. "I was confident going into the game."

Howard hasn't played bad at all especially considering he barely snapped the ball going into the season. This spring he got a few snaps in during practice but that was all.

"I had three practices in the spring and that is it," Howard said. "The spring it wasn't too bad but I got injured a little bit. It wasn't anything major. We were moving people around in the spring so I tried a little bit there, a little at guard, and a little at tackle. They decided they wanted to put Pat there but he didn't do anything until the summer. During the summer I was more focused at tackle and guard but I will always be ready to do what we need."

Howard didn't see the move to center coming until that text message arrived. He was recruited to play guard or tackle. He earned a scholarship offer after a good showing at a Kansas football camp. Howard said former Kansas coach Mark Mangino told him an offer would be on the way the day after the camp.

Howard laughed when asked if ever thought he would be a center when he signed with Kansas. So far the move has worked out well and he is still learning.

"I knew I could block but the snapping made me nervous," he said. "In practice none of my snaps have been bad and went and confident during the game. Like Coach Weis said is if you are not noticing the guys at center that is probably a good thing."

Against Oklahoma the offensive line was able to open holes for the running game. This will be the third, straight week the Jayhawks start the same offensive line. One area they would like to improve is pass blocking.

They hope they can accomplish that against Baylor.

"We take pride when we are able to run the ball and now we have to be able to pass the ball," Howard said. "We are not giving Jake or Montell enough time to throw the ball back there and that is one thing we're going to have to do this week. You can't only run the ball. Whoever is back there playing quarterback we have to give them time to throw the ball and that is one thing we're focusing on this week."

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