For Thorson, Change is Good

Sept. 3, 2009

It is hard to miss Brad Thorson when he walks into a room. The 6-3, 290-pound junior is always smiling and usually has something to say. His jokes are sarcastic and he comes off as a comedian, but his personality is different when it comes to football. On the field, Thorson is completely serious and focused on helping the Jayhawks win.

Saturday against Northern Colorado, Thorson will be starting for the first time at the left guard position. However, this is a change for him. He played center for most of his college career, at Wisconsin in 2007 and serving as a backup to Ryan Cantrell last year after transferring to KU.

“I really had a lot of comfort there (center), but at the same time the opportunity to start is something that I have worked very hard for. It’s awesome to play anywhere on the field,” Thorson said.

Kansas head coach Mark Mangino is happy with the work Thorson did in the off-season. He said, “Thorson had a good year. He’s stronger and sharper.”

“For him to acknowledge a lot of things I have done on my own makes me feel like we are on the same page,” Thorson said.

Besides his on-field position change, the Mequon, Wis., native has also recently had to change his allegiances. Thorson has not always been a Jayhawk. In fact, he grew up a Wisconsin Badger fan and it was a dream come true to initially go to UW. His first exposure to KU was through watching on TV the success of the 2007 team that went on to win the Orange Bowl. Thorson decided to transfer to KU last year after redshirting and playing a year at Wisconsin.

“It was the hardest thing in the world for me to leave, but in the end, I am going to have a much better three years here, with the college experience,” Thorson said.

In his senior year at Homestead High School, Thorson played every position on the offensive line. He feels that the experience he gained that season was priceless.

“It really gave me an understanding of both sides of the ball,” he said. “There are some things that you can really take for granted. With a little bit of experience, it helps to know all the challenges that everybody across the line faces.”

This Saturday, Thorson will have achieved his personal goal to be a starter at a Division I football program. Now he wants to do his part to help the Jayhawks win every week.

While his commitment to football is obvious, off the field Thorson is equally committed. Thorson is also a dedicated member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). This committee is comprised of more than 100 student-athletes from Kansas’ 18 athletic teams. Through SAAC, Thorson and the other committee members are given the opportunity to make changes for all KU student-athletes in the areas of academics, athletics and social experiences.

Last year, Thorson had a leading role in “JayRock,” the student-athlete talent show produced by SAAC, where he serenaded Athletics Director Lew Perkins with the song “I Will Always Love You.” Although Thorson enjoyed his time in the spotlight, he did describe the experience as, “A little bit embarrassing.”

He also started the Jayhawk Chalk Talk blog. The blog gives an intimate look at the lives of student-athletes and lets them express themselves in different ways.

“A lot of people are a little nervous about getting involved, but I just keep reaching out to people hoping that everyone is going to extend and share a little bit of themselves,” Thorson said.

As Thorson and the Jayhawks kickoff the 2009 season Saturday night, look for him to be game-changer on the field for those 60 minutes. Just don’t expect his persona to change and hear him cracking jokes until after the Jayhawks have their first victory secured.