🏈 Jayhawks Open Spring Practice With High Energy
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Under the watchful eye of interim head coach Emmett Jones, the Kansas Jayhawks opened up spring ball Tuesday afternoon with an energetic and productive practice.
The Jayhawks have spent the past eight-plus weeks preparing for their first spring practice since 2019, after last year was canceled because of COVID-19. Needless to say, Jones and the Jayhawks were more than ready to get on the field and get to work.
“There was tons of energy,” Jones said after practice. “You could tell those guys were excited and anxious to get back on the field. There was just tons of excitement out there, and guys definitely flew around.”
Jones wasn’t the only one who felt the extra energy and excitement on the field. Kyron Johnson, a super-senior linebacker, walked off the practice field pleased with his team’s first day of work.
“The intensity was great,” Johnson said. “I’ve never really seen anything like that. The energy was there. The focus was there; there are just minor details that we have to work on. (Coach Jones) brings that motivation; he brings that energy.”
A few Jayhawks have changed positions this spring in preparation for the 2021 season.
Takulve Williams, who played receiver his first three seasons in Lawrence, has moved over to the other side of the ball as a safety. The senior from New Orleans also switched numbers, going from No. 16 to No. 7. Jordan Medley, who played quarterback last year, has moved to wide receiver, while Tory Locklin has moved from running back to quarterback.
“(Takulve) went to safety; that’s something we talked about right after the season,” Jones said. “He wanted to do it. I always tell him, ‘we have a home for you if stuff doesn’t work out.’ He’s going to full-time safety, so that gave us a chance to move Jordan Medley to full-time wide receiver. So it was like a swap. They got stronger on the defensive side. We got stronger on the wide receiver position. It all worked out.”
No spring practice can begin without some talk about the quarterback position.
The Jayhawks have plenty of available options at quarterback to open up this spring. Both Jalon Daniels and Miles Kendrick, who saw valuable playing time last year, are back in the fold. In addition, Kansas has added mid-year enrollees Ben Easters and Conrad Hawley to the mix to join Locklin, Jordan Preston and Miles Fallin.
Jones liked what he saw from the group on the opening day of practice.
“Right now, it’s an all-out race,” Jones said. “We have seven guys out there competing. Today showed that those guys have been handling their coaching well. Now, the bullets are flying around out there and the d-line is coming at them a little bit. For the most part, they competed. The objective is to get better each day. We definitely saw some things we liked out of some of those guys. Everything is being documented with those guys. It’s a full-tilt race.”
Same Coach, New Role
Even though Jones has shifted over to interim head coach to open spring ball, super-senior wide receiver Kwamie Lassiter II said he didn’t see much change in his coach’s approach to practice.
Lassiter, of course, has spent the past two seasons being coached by Jones in the wide receivers room.
“Coach Jones still has high intensity,” Lassiter said. “He still keeps all the players motivated, trying to play football. Coach Jones, he hasn’t changed from when he was in the receivers room. He stayed true to who he is. He just wants to see us do great.”
Lassiter said Jones was unifying the entire team throughout the practice, and even though he is still coaching the wide receivers, he was all over the field, motivating players on both sides of the ball.
Jones moving spots wasn’t the only new part for Lassiter to get adjusted to on Tuesday. His brother, Kwinton Lassiter, joined the team as a walk-on cornerback at the semester break and practiced for the first time with the Jayhawks on Tuesday to open spring ball.
With Kwamie at wide receiver and Kwinton at cornerback, there figure to be some battles throughout spring.
“It’s never going to be sweet for him,” Kwamie said. “We’ve been working since we were little. It’s cool, but at the end of the day, we’re playing football like we have since kids. But one-on-one, we know what’s up.”