James Sims

Injuries cost KU its top two RBs for all of 2014

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It’s not been a very good past couple of days for experienced members of Kansas’ backfield.

The Jayhawks confirmed Tuesday that running backs Brandon Bourbon and Taylor Cox will miss all of the 2014 season due to injuries. The former tore an ACL during a scrimmage Sunday, the latter ruptured an Achilles’ tendon during Monday’s practice.

“I feel bad for both Brandon and Taylor,” KU coach Charlie Weis said in a statement. “They were looking forward to the opportunity to be the replacement for James Sims. I sat down with each of them individually and talked through their options and was happy that they chose to further their education while attempting to play again next year if things work out.”

One of the options being considered by both seniors is petitioning the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility.  Bourbon missed the entire 2010 season with a broken leg. A hamstring injury cost Cox all but two games in 2013, so a sixth season, if they so choose, would appear to be a slam-dunk.

This season, though, both of the losses are rather significant ones.  Last season, Bourbon ran for 191 yards and was second on the team with three rushing touchdowns. His 20 receptions were tied for third on the team.

Entering summer camp and heading into the season, Bourbon was considered the Jayhawks’ starting running back. Cox, who was listed as Bourbon’s backup, rushed for 468 yards during his only healthy season in Lawrence.

The twin injuries continue a long line of attrition at the position the past several months. In June, Darrian Miller, who finished second on the team in rushing in 2013 and 2011, left the team for personal reasons. A month later, four-star 2014 signee Traevohn Wrench, widely considered to be a lock to be an immediate contributor, failed to qualify academically and was forced to go the JUCO route this season.

The attrition means that Tony Pierson is the only running back on the roster that has carried a football in a game at this level — and he was moved to wide receiver last year. Safety Joe Dineen has been moved from safety to running back to shore up the depth at the position.

True freshman Corey Avery and JUCO transfer De’Andre Mann will now be expected to carry KU’s running-game load. Unless there’s further attrition, the plan is to keep Pierson, who missed five of the last eight games last season due to concussions, as a receiver.

The Fifth Quarter: Week 12 Rewind

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As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

THUMBS UP

War Damn Miracle… and the Mother of All Iron Bowls
For a short period of time, it appeared that the Alabama-Auburn game for all of the SEC West Tostitos would be nothing but a distant memory thanks to the fourth-quarter heroics of Aaron Murray and his Georgia teammates.  And then, the Dawg Gone Miracle went and happened and the Mother of All Iron Bowls was back on.  While there’s still the little matter of Alabama getting past its scrimmage against FCS-level Chattanooga next weekend — after it struggled with Mississippi State this weekend — Nov. 30 is set for an epic in-state showdown: the  7-0 (in SEC play) Tide versus the 6-1 Tigers, with the winner staking its claim to the SEC West and earning a berth in the conference title game the following weekend.  In the 21 years since the SEC went to divisional play, the Iron Bowl has never served as a winner-take-all affair for the SEC West.  Hide the women, children and Udykes, y’all; this one’s gonna be huge.

SEC East clarity
Meanwhile, on the redheaded stepchild side of the SEC, the chase for a spot in the conference championship game is nearly as simple as it is in the West.  With South Carolina’s escape against Florida, the Gamecocks finish league play at 6-2.  Missouri, which was idle this weekend, is at 5-1.  If the Tigers win their last two games on the road against Ole Miss and at home against Texas A&M, Mizzou will face the winner of the Alabama-Auburn Iron Bowl the first Saturday in December in Atlanta.  If Mizzou stumbles once either week?  The Gamecocks, based on their Oct. 26 overtime win over the Tigers, will represent the East division in the league title game.  If Mizzou can get past an up-and-down Rebels squad, both the SEC East and West will be decided on the final week of the regular season.  That, I would think, would be kind of cool.

Ed OrgeronOregon for Orgeron
Nov. 7, the bottom dropped out of Oregon’s football world.  Not only did the Ducks lose its stranglehold on a potential spot in the BCS title game, they lost control of their own division with the loss to Stanford.  10 days later, their world’s looking a bit brighter.  Thanks to USC’s stunning upset of Stanford, Oregon now merely needs to take care of business against Arizona and Oregon State the next two weeks and it will claim the Pac-12 North’s spot in the conference title game.  Just who the opposition would be remains to be seen.  Arizona State, at 6-1 in the conference, needs to “simply” beat UCLA (5-2) next weekend on the road to win the South division, regardless of what happens in the regular season finale against Arizona and regardless of what USC (5-2) does in its last two games (ASU 62, USC 41 the day prior to Lane Kiffin‘s firing).  The Sun Devils, though, aren’t the only ones that control its own divisional fate; the Bruins can win the South if they wins their last two (ASU, USC).  Unbelievably, the Trojans also have a (slim) shot at a South crown.  If USC wins its last two, and if ASU loses its last two, the Trojans would be the South’s representative in the Pac-12 title game.  To boil it down: the South will have much more clarity after the ASU-UCLA game next Saturday.  Probably.

(more…)

Award named in honor of Earl Campbell releases inaugural watch list

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(Apologies; forgot to post this yesterday)

Just like bowl games, there’s another new postseason award that will be handed out after the end of the 2013 regular season.

After announcing its creation last August, the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, by way of the Tyler Chamber of Commerce and SPORTyler, revealed Wednesday its inaugural watch list.  The initial group of players released by the Campbell Award consists of 35 players.

While the award ostensibly goes to the top offensive player in the country, it’s very much a Texas-centric trophy.  The release states that “the winner must meet one or more of the following criteria: born in Texas and/or graduated from a Texas High School and/or played at a Texas-based junior college or four-year college.”

As a result of that criteria, nine of the players are from the Big 12, while a total of 14 are from Texas-based FBS football programs.  The Pac-12 has five players on the list, while the Big Ten, Conference USA and Mountain West have four apiece.  One of the three SEC players to watch is, obviously, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel.

A total of 13 running backs were recognized, followed by quarterbacks (10), wide receivers (eight), offensive linemen (three) and tight end (one).

The newest award is named in honor of, of course, the former Texas Longhorn legend and College Football Hall of Famer.  He earned the nickname “the Tyler Rose” coming out of high school in the Texas city.

Below is the inaugural Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award watch list:

· Ross Apo, BYU, WR
· David Ash, Texas, QB
· Kolton Browning, Louisiana-Monroe, QB
· Damon Bullock, Iowa, RB
· Shane Carden, East Carolina, QB
· Kasey Carrier, New Mexico, RB
· Tim Cornett, UNLV, RB
· Cody Davis, Purdue, OG
· Adam Dingwell, San Diego State, QB
· Cameron Fleming, Stanford, OT
· James Franklin, Missouri, QB
· Keyarris Garrett, Tulsa, WR
· Ryan Grant, Tulane, WR
· Deontay Greenbury, Houston, WR
· Marion Grice, Arizona State, RB
· John Hubert, Kansas State, RB
· Nathan Jeffrey, UTEP, RB
· Jeremy Johnson, SMU, WR
· Chuckie Keeton, Utah State, QB
· Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M, QB
· Venric Mark, Northwestern, RB
· Ty Montgomery, Stanford, WR
· Casey Pachall, TCU, QB
· Lache Seastrunk, Baylor, RB
· Charles Sims, West Virginia, RB
· James Sims, Kansas, RB
· Eric Soza, UTSA, QB
· Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State, WR
· Travis Swanson, Arkansas, C
· Zachary Swanson, Virginia, TE
· Eric Ward, Texas Tech, WR
· James White, Iowa State, RB
· Rodrick Williams Jr., Minnesota, RB
· Connor Wood, Colorado, QB
· Storm Woods, Oregon State, RB

Carey, Yeldon among 63 RBs on Doak Walker Award preseason watch list

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Oh, you know. Just another preseason watch list coming your way.

The Doak Walker Award, given annually to college football’s most outstanding running back, released its preseason watch list on Friday with 63 candidates. Among those to be included were Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey, who was the nation’s leading rusher in 2012, Miami’s Duke Johnson, Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas and Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon.

The winner of the Doak Walker Award will be announced at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on Dec. 12. Last year’s winner was Wisconsin’s Montee Ball.

As always, you can view the entire list of preseason candidates below. You can now also check out our preseason watch lists repository HERE.

Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
Michael Alisa, BYU
Antonio Andrews, Western Kentucky
Dri Archer, Kent State
Brendan Bigelow, California
Beau Blankenship, Ohio
Alfred Blue, LSU
Dominique Brown, Louisville
Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona
B.J. Catalon, TCU
Orleans Darkwa, Tulane
Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech
Trayion Durham, Kent State
Jahwan Edwards, Ball State
David Fluellen, Toledo
D.J. Foster, Arizona State
Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
Marion Grice, Arizona State
Todd Gurley, Georgia
Joe Hill, Utah State
John Hubert, Kansas State
Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
Waymon James, TCU
Duke Johnson, Miami
Storm Johnson, UCF
Matt Jones, Florida
Henry Josey, Missouri
Ben Malena, Texas A&M
Raymond Maples, Army
Venric Mark, Northwestern
Keith Marshall, Georgia
Glasco Martin, Baylor
Tre Mason, Auburn
Lyle McCombs, Connecticut
Adam Muema, San Diego State
David Oku, Arkansas State
Branden Oliver, Buffalo
Jordan Parker, Middle Tennessee
LaDarius Perkins, Mississippi State
Senorise Perry, Louisville
Christian Powell, Colorado
Darrin Reaves, UAB
Silas Redd, USC
Bishop Sankey, Washington
Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
David Sims, Georgia Tech
James Sims, Kansas
Kiero Small, Arkansas
Jeremy Smith, Oklahoma State
Jerome Smith, Syracuse
De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
Zurlon Tipton, Central Michigan
Trey Watts, Tulsa
Mark Weisman, Iowa
James White, Iowa State
James White, Wisconsin
Andre Williams, Boston College
Damien Williams, Oklahoma
Jamaal Williams, BYU
Jonathan Williams, Arkansas
Storm Woods, Oregon State
T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
Zach Zwinak, Penn State

Kansas’ former second-leading RB rejoins the team

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Word came last week that Kansas would be getting some much-needed wide receiver help with the acquisition of former Miami (OH) wideout Nick Harwell. Whether or not Harwell will be cleared to play this season remains to be seen, but KU is also getting some immediate help at the running back spot too.

And from a familiar name, no less.

The school announced Tuesday that former running back Darrian Miller has signed a grant-in-aid and rejoined the team. Miller was dismissed in early 2012 following his freshman season with the Jayhawks in which he was the team’s second-leading rusher with 559 yards and four touchdowns.

“Coach Weis has given me a rare opportunity,” Miller said in a statement through the school. “I get the chance to get this right. I am truly thankful for this opportunity and I intend to make the most of it. I realize that I am leaving Butler at a bad time and I want to thank Coach Troy Morrell for the opportunity he gave me there. Coach Morrell and his staff were an amazing help to me.”

Miller has spent the past year at the community college level and will rejoin KU as a redshirt sophomore. He will be eligible to play immediately.

“We constantly research special situations concerning transfer students. Each situation is unique. Occasionally through our due diligence we find a player who fits. This was the case with both Darrian and Nick (Harwell). We believe both young men are prepared to thrive at Kansas on and off the field,” Charlie Weis said.

Weis is stocking up on talent that can contribute right away. Miller was a four-star back coming out of high school in 2011, according to Rivals.com, and joins a talented backfield that already has James Sims and Tony Pierson. While even a .500 record is a stretch for Kansas in 2013 after a one-win season in 2012, there’s a chance this team could make some nice strides in the win-loss columns. At the very least, it can’t get much worse.