In the Trenches with Brad Thorson

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Throughout the 2010 season, senior offensive lineman Brad Thorson will be sharing his first-person experiences with the Kansas football team through “In the Trenches” at Thorson is one of four returning players on the Jayhawk offensive line, which will no doubt be a key to the team’s success this season.

Thorson brings the perspective of a player who has been through the battles of the college football season, having played one year at Wisconsin and three at Kansas. He is expecting to complete his Master’s degree in economics this year.

Sept. 4 –

Well it’s finally on us. I’m postdating this blog for Saturday morning, so to all the Jayhawks reading this, I hope it’s while you are running out your door to the game. It’s been a long time since we’ve played in Memorial Stadium with your eyes on us and I think I can speak for everyone when I say I can’t wait. I’m hoping now that things are in full swing I can get into some regular blogging maybe one on Monday and one on Friday to keep you abreast to the locker room.

Every position group has their own special tasks and areas they are focused on, but as a team our one goal is winning. Speaking for the offensive line, we cannot wait for kickoff on Saturday. It seems like so many people have had a magnifying glass to our group for months now and we’re ready to test ourselves. The offense doesn’t want to ease into things – we’ve really adopted the smash mouth approach Coach (Turner) Gill brings with him but Coach (Chuck) Long and Coach (Darrell) Wyatt are ready to call some passing plays for big yardage.

While I try to never give the defense credit for anything, I can’t wait to watch these guys on the field. One thing I can say about our teammates on the other side of the ball is they have great leadership across all positions and ages. As seniors we all share a desire and commitment that is difficult to explain, but I know Drew Dudley, Chris Harris, Jake Laptad, and Justin Springer will be working in perfect harmony with the other guys. I know Steve Johnson is going to get the pads early and there will be plenty of noise coming from the defensive backfield.

Coach Gill is committed to developing core life skills and explaining their importance. One of those we touched on Sunday to start the week off was sacrifice. As student-athletes we sacrifice time and energy, our bodies, some of our social lives among other things, in order to make our teams successful. This year Coach Gill is asking for us to make another sacrifice that I think may be more difficult for some of us than giving up countless hours for practice and preparation. In order to help us be mentally focused come Saturday’s game, Coach Gill has asked us to sacrifice our cell phones till after the game. We’ll probably have to pry Daymond Patterson’s phone from his hand, but overall I think it will be a positive experience to a lot of us who have become almost dependent on technology (myself included).

It may be rare for college football, but I love what Coach Gill does. Every move is calculated with our best interests in mind. For many of us far removed from our homes and families this coaching staff is ready and willing to step in and guide us through these tumultuous times.

I have to finish a homework assignment and clean up the mustache before heading over for Thursday practice. Can’t wait to see everybody tailgating on the way to the stadium, on the hill as we leave the locker room and in Memorial when the first whistle blows. Rock Chalk everybody, I’m so proud and excited to be a Jayhawk just like the rest of you!

Aug. 25 –

So last time I told you about Coach Stamn bringing surfing from Buffalo to Kansas, but he’s not the only coach that brings something fresh to Kansas. I spend the most time with Coach (J.B.) Grimes, who happens to be the shortest coach on staff working with the biggest guys on the team.

Coach Grimes always likes to remind us there’s a big, mean man hiding inside of his small body though. Come to think of it, he’s pretty much got a saying for every situation, and I’m not sure I’ve heard a repeat yet.

When we first met Coach Grimes I think we all were a bit shocked by his stature, but quickly learned he still had more energy than a lot of us. Ever since he’s been here Coach Grimes has spent every moment coaching us. Calls at all times of the day were not uncommon when we were learning a new offense to check up on us and make sure everything was going well.

When we all finally got to know each other, Coach invited us over to his new place to enjoy some home-cooked barbecue. Coach even had his brother come up and I wish I knew how much food they made because there were mounds of ribs and brisket and chicken.

The most amazing part was that we ate it all. It was pretty awesome seeing all of Coach’s pictures with his players throughout the years, and all the hairstyles to go with them. Personally, I think his style now is his best so far.

Coach’s high energy and a fresh hair cut must make our offensive line meeting room one of the best. He allows us to be casual as long as we get our work done, kind of like the mustaches we are all trying to sport. I’ve had great o-line coaches in high school and college, so I’m very happy to have the tradition continue with Coach Grimes. His enthusiasm every day keeps us fresh and ready to roll, especially since we feel like the team is really relying on all of us this season.

Aug. 18 –

With a new coach at Kansas came a couple other new things.

When Coach Gill brought Coach Stamn with him, I doubt Coach Gill imagined he was sewing the seeds for one of the greatest traditions in KU Football history. It started with the tight ends, inspired by Coach Stamn, but quickly spread to the rest of the offense. While the defense would like to deny it, surfing is here to stay at Kansas.

‘What is surfing?’ you may ask. When an offensive player gets a knockdown he jumps on top of the defender and lifts his legs and arms off the ground. We take pride in our knockdowns, but surfing guys is down-right domination.

On Monday, I was part of what is to believed to be the first triple-surf ever. Daymond Patterson and I were part of a hellacious de-cleater and D.J. Besheers was close by so we all rode the wave together.

Needless to say the offense was pumped, the defense not so much. One man is attempting to up the surfing craze by rodeoing the defensive lineman. It is yet to be seen whether Tim Biere’s new tradition will catch on, but one thing is for sure, this offense is having fun.

We’re all pals in the locker room, but on the field competition is non-stop. Whether it be offense vs. defense, position battles or the best surf of the day, guys are coming out to the practice field to get better. So for all those o-lineman out there tired of the defense talking, hang ten and soon you’ll be the ones chatting it up. Till next time Rock Chalk!

PS- check out The Gridiron- KU Football’s mini TV show ( and just visualize my mustache surfing.

Aug. 14 –

Well, we’re almost done with week two of training camp and I have to say I’ve seen some pretty good things.

One thing I always love about training camp is watching the new guys. See most of us came from high schools where we were the best athletes and success came fairly easy, but when we come to the Big 12 it’s a whole different story.

I still remember my first camp. It seemed like I was learning an entire new language and all of the sudden the little mistakes were a BIG deal. Now I’m fluent in that language that us lineman talk in and I make a lot less of those little mistakes, but it was a tough learning process. Watching our freshman is always a reminder of my first years in college football.

The offensive line only has one freshman this year, so we all get to watch his progress very closely. It’s been a hot camp but Chad (Kolumber) has been holding up pretty well.

In my opinion the offensive line definitely has the hardest camp but then again every position would probably say the same thing. Don’t worry momma Kolumber, we are going to take great care of him. Coach Gill makes camp a good time, but fall camp is fall camp and the first year of lifting, practice and meetings can be a bit overwhelming.

It’s good to see the guys in good spirits, especially the young guys, and nobody is complaining that rush started this weekend for the sororities.

With a big scrimmage coming up this Saturday I know guys are anxious to go full out again. Hopefully I’ll have more good words for you next week. Rock Chalk KU!

Aug. 4 –

When media relations approached me to write about day-to-day things during my final season at KU I was really pumped. I doubt anybody who knows me would think otherwise because I like to talk, especially about KU Football.

When I sat down to pen out my first post thought, I hit a little writers’ block. I tried to think of something funny and clever, but I think I used up all my jokes at Media Day in Dallas with Jake Laptad and Chris Harris last week. So I decided the best stuff to write about is the sort of day-to-day stuff that’s not front page news, but part of D1 football and how we go through it at KU.

I also realized from an offensive line perspective anything good we do isn’t necessarily newsworthy – it’s the missed blocks and sacks that make the news. So my range of story ideas is pretty wide open.

So much has been written about Coach Turner Gill’s fresh perspective on the field but not as much on how guys have responded over the summer, more specifically how the o-line grew in preparation for camp and the season. This summer most of the o-line worked out together as part of a larger group at 2 p.m. Lifting everyday with Sal Capra and Tanner Hawkinson really allowed us to push each other and become that much closer as linemen.

Both of them exceeded my expectations, and I think it’s because we could feed off each other when it felt like we couldn’t do one more squat rep. After a lift that assuredly left us soaked, our shirts clinging to our bodies, the last thing we wanted to do was run, but we know conditioning is a vital part of offseason preparation. I don’t remember a time when the linemen didn’t go out and attack every rep.

The afternoon is the hottest part of the day to run in, and admittedly we linemen aren’t the most efficient at cooling off. The truth is that it was great to have the group together working through the heat. Spectators in the Union garage often looked down on us, sometimes in pity I think. It really showed that guys were willing to sacrifice comfort for the team’s success.

Post-running you could always find the o-line piling into the cold tub, always treating the 8-10 person max a little liberally as it never says how big those people can be, chatting about everything from girlfriends to school and almost always something related to eating. I’m not saying we weren’t a close group previously, but I think our line had a lot of fun this summer recognizing the challenges ahead and our responsibility to confront them. Whether it was a couple hours watching film or bettering our technique on the field, we always made sure to laugh and have fun. The only exception was when we did drills against the d-line.

Much has been made of Chris Harris’ ability to jaw with wide receivers and get in their heads, but during every one-on-one rep against the d-line Jake ‘the Snake’ Laptad was impossible to keep quiet.

In fact, we like to joke that the defense practices talking about themselves in meetings instead of watching film. I have to admit though, they have reason to talk. Drew Dudley, Justin Springer and Laptad all live together and I’m pretty sure all they do are push-ups and study film together. I swear everything is a competition for those guys.

All in all, this summer has been a really good time, whether it be sweating every ounce of water in my body out or hanging out in the air conditioning from the Kansas heat. Summer has now officially ended for us, the 2010 University of Kansas football team. We’re ready for camp to start and to put the pads on.

Brad Thorson’s blog will appear periodically at throughout the 2010 football season.