There may not be a player ready to get spring football going more than Huldon Tharp. After sitting out all of last season he is ready to get back on the field.
As a true freshman Tharp recorded 59 tackles including a season best 11 against Nebraska. He was named to the Rivals.com All-Freshman team. However, a foot injury derailed his sophomore year and he ended up taking a redshirt.
He watched from the sidelines last year as his teammates had an up and down season finishing 3-9.
"Missing out on football period is something I can't stand," Tharp said. "I came here to play because I love the game. That's the way I play. It was disappointing but our guys worked extremely hard and never gave up. I saw things that were encouraging and there is still room for a lot of improvement. I'm looking forward to putting work into the off season so we can have a better season."
Tharp had been through the tough times with injuries before. He injured his knee before his senior season at Mulvane High which kept him from playing. So it wasn't a new experience working to get back in shape.
"Rehab is always tough," he said. "The constant doing the same thing day after day is a grind. It went really well. My foot feels good. I'm ready to try it out."
The good news is Tharp says he is 100 percent and is ready to go for spring football. It took a lot of hard work and trips to the training room but the Kansas linebackers will get a big boost with Tharp back in the line-up.
"I've had a season-ending injury before so it was something I had been through," Tharp said. "The biggest thing has been rehab and getting my foot back to normal. I've been doing some cutting and acceleration just making sure it will hold. It feels as good as new."
During the off-season Tharp has noticed a strong work ethic with the team. After a tough year of transition in Turner Gill's first year Tharp likes what he sees in the team's attitude during the winter months.
"More than anything everybody has been hungry," he said. "Every guy I talk to doesn't like the fact we were 3-9 and having that feeling left over is tough. I think the guys realize we will have to put in a lot more work this off-season. We are working hard to make sure we don't disappoint next year."
Bringing a healthy Tharp back will bring speed to the defense in 2011. The addition on transfer Darius Willis will also help the athleticism at linebacker. Tharp believes Kansas fans will like the defense next season.
"One thing I see coming up in the group is a lot of speed and athleticism," Tharp said. "It is encouraging to see how our defense is changing. I think it will change for the better with the speed. Everything that people have heard about Darius is true. He is a good player and I'm definitely excited to have a chance to play next to him."
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