When the Kansas sports information department released the players they were taking to Big 12 media day Nick Harwell may have surprised some. Harwell, a transfer from Miami (Ohio), hasn't played a snap at Kansas yet.
But what he did sitting out last year and assuming a leadership role was enough for Charlie Weis to put him on the trip to Dallas.
"I was a little surprised and did not know he would pick me to come to media day," Harwell said. "But I have put in a lot of hard work and a lot of overtime. I feel like I have worked harder than a lot of people in the nation. I am kind of surprised that he brought me but I know that I've worked hard and what I can bring to the table."
Last year Harwell was the Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year at Kansas. Due to NCAA transfer rules he had to sit out after leaving Miami.
As a junior at Miami he led the MAC in receptions per game and 13th in the NCAA. As a sophomore he was a first team All-MAC selection. A search on YouTube shows some of his ability and some of his best clips were against Ohio State.
Harwell knows he can play but he wanted to be more than just a starting receiver. He wants to lead.
"The main thing I worked on was leadership," Harwell said. "I wasn't able to directly affect the games. But I was able to lead the team in winter running, working hard in the weight room and hopefully it will in eventually rub off on other players."
Although Harwell couldn't help his team he saw how tough it has been in the program. The Jayhawks have only managed four wins in the last two years and he hopes to change that.
"I would hate for our seniors to go out with a bad taste in their mouth," he said. "I feel we will do whatever it is that we have to do to make it to that bowl game."
There are a lot of changes on offense this year. There is a new system with offensive coordinator and Harwell has a new receivers coach in Eric Kiesau. Last season Kiesau was the offensive coordinator at Washington.
"He's one of the best coaches I've ever had," Harwell said. "He's a very knowledgeable guy of the game. He is a big motivator and a player's coach and we love him. He is positive and brings the best out of us each and every day."
The Big 12 is known for fast paced offenses and high scoring games. Kansas has transitioned from a pro-style offense to the spread under offensive coordinator John Reagan. When Harwell talked about the new offense he said it will be closer to what you see in the Big 12 from other teams.
He likes the make-up of the receivers on the roster.
"I feel like the receivers we have are different and a diverse group," Harwell said. "We have tall guys, short, shifty guys, and fast guys like Tony Pierson. There are a lot of guys that can do the same things in different ways. You just can't cover one receiver or all of our receivers one way. You have to find different ways to stop different guys."
Harwell has been named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list three times. He said he doesn't feel like he has anything to prove but wants to help the Kansas program get back to winning ways. In the new offense he will get his chance to make that happen.
"He will have an opportunity to get the ball in his hands a lot," Weis said. "In a pro offense you don't go into a game saying how many times you're going to throw it to one guy. You say let's see what coverage they are going to play and see where their weakness is. And you throw it to the guy were the weakness is. Nick will get his chances."