True Freshmen Looking To See Playing Time Saturday

Sept. 4, 2009

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Running back Toben Opurum, wide receiver Bradley McDougald, and linebacker Huldon Tharp all came to Kansas with the mission to see immediate playing time on the football field and the trio of true freshmen is one step closer to that goal as each one earned a spot on the two-deep depth chart released earlier this week.

From the summer workouts with Strength and Conditioning Coach Chris Dawson to two-a-day workouts during training camp to team meetings watching game film, the freshmen engulfed all the new information thrown their way and rose to the occasion.

In most cases, freshmen have to take a little time to adapt to the new surroundings.

“Once you get here, sit down in the meeting room, look around and see all these receivers, it is kind of intimidating because they know more than what you do,” McDougald said.

Opurum said besides lifting and running during the offseason, a lot of what the team had to do was prepare mentally.

“I think preparing yourself physically and mentally is important to be able to play at this level and I feel like our coaches have prepared us pretty well for this first game,” Opurum said.

Tharp is quite eager to put the pads back on and play in a game, after sitting out all of his senior season of high school due to injury.

“It’s a good feeling knowing that the coaches have faith in me that I can actually help the team out this year,” Tharp said. “It’s been a year since I’ve even played so getting out onto the field again will be nice.”

A topic that often comes up in discussion in regards to true freshmen is the transition from high school football to college football. Most freshmen agree that the size of the players and the speed of the game is quite a change, and it was no different for this trio.

“Just in practice, going up against the ones on offense, it’s crazy,” Tharp said. “Our offense is going to be one of the best in the nation I think, and the speed of the game is a whole different level along with the size as well.”

McDougald also found himself mentioning the speed of the game as the biggest transition.

“In high school, once you get to a certain point you can very easily be lackadaisical through things and just go through things half-heartedly, but college football it’s always a consistent grind,” McDougald said. Each play is full speed, so just the speed and the tempo of the game was something I had to get used to.”

Opurum had a different view on what he thought was the biggest change from high school football.

“I’m not used to having to block people my size or people even bigger than me because I was used to pretty much being able to dominate smaller opponents,” Opurum said. “Now, you can’t do that at this level. You have to prepare yourself technique- and fundamental-wise, so it’s been a different preparation for me.”

Even after compliments from Coach Mangino on how fast McDougald was able to adapt to the tempo of Division I football, McDougald humbled himself by saying that he needed to get better in things like route running and picking up on coverages.

McDougald said even though he had a good camp, it was all about maintaining throughout the season.

“It’s basically about getting into the film room and getting out on the practice field and making plays,” McDougald said. “Whoever makes plays, the coaches put on the field.”

It appears that Opurum, McDougald, and Tharp made enough plays through training camp to earn their playing time on the field Saturday.