Springer to Face Twin Challenges

Sept. 10, 2009

Video: Springer

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The quote of the day from Justin Springer, junior linebacker, was, “Oh yeah, big time!” at Tuesday’s weekly press conference.

Springer had been asked if he is pumped for the game on Saturday, when the 25th-ranked Kansas football team will take on UTEP at the Sun Bowl at 6:30 p.m. CDT.

“UTEP is going to be a crazy atmosphere. It’s going to be fun, but it’s very important for our team,” Springer said.

Head Coach Mark Mangino has high hopes for his Jayhawk football team on Saturday in El Paso, Texas.

“This game is a good challenge,” Mangino said. “If we want to have success in the conference, we need to win on the road.”

Perhaps most excited about the Sept. 12 non-conference match-up against the University of Texas-El Paso is KU’s 6’4″, 242-pound junior linebacker because it just so happens that Springer’s twin brother, Jeremy Springer, plays middle linebacker for UTEP.

The Springer twins, who hail from Los Fresnos, Texas, grew up competing against each other since the time they were in junior high.

“We competed in everything we did, even how much food we ate,” Springer explained.

However, both of the brothers are facing their own challenges this season.

In Kansas, Justin is recovering from an injury that occurred in the K-State game last season. Before his injury, Justin was a key back-up player and recorded eight tackles against Oklahoma in 2008.

Justin describes himself has 85-90 percent recovered from his injury. Mangino is happy with the recovery that he has made so far.

“He has had a good rehab,” Mangino said. “He has come back slowly. He’s had a few road blocks, but he is coming around now. We are easing him into it.”

In the season-opener against Northern Colorado last Saturday, Springer showed he was ready to be back on the field. He was number one on the depth chart at strong side linebacker, and he recorded two tackles in the Jayhawks’ 49-3 victory over the Bears.

In El Paso, his twin brother Jeremy is facing his own challenges. Although he is not recovering from an injury, Jeremy is learning to play a new position this season.

Jeremy had been a quarterback his entire football career until last spring. After he realized he was not going to see much playing time at quarterback, he switched to the defensive side of the ball which has proved to be a good. Last Saturday in UTEP’s game against Buffalo he not only started at middle linebacker, he recorded nine tackles to be UTEP’s leading tackler.

“He played very well in his first game. He played hard, but I tell him things he needs to work on,” KU’s Justin said about his twin brother’s first game as a linebacker.

One of those things that Justin believes his twin brother needs to do is gain weight. You can tell the Springer twins apart because Justin weighs 20 more pounds than Jeremy. Justin weighs in at 242 pounds while Jeremy is 220 pounds.

“He also has more hair than I do,” joked Justin Springer.

Besides constantly competing against one another, the Springer brothers are also each other’s support system.

“I talk to him every night. I always ask him about different things; it could be about grades, girls, anything,” Justin said.

The twins had always planned on going to the same college, but things changed when they did not get offers from the same university.

“It was in his best interest to go there (UTEP) and mine to go to Kansas,” Justin explained.

“He was a quarterback and we weren’t looking for that at that particular time,” Mangino said on why KU’s coaches did not recruit Jeremy Springer.

Justin’s parents, family and friends will be at the Sun Bowl on Saturday to cheer for both of the linebackers.

“They’re not rooting for any specific team. Whoever wins, wins,” Justin said. “They have a shirt, and it’s going to say ‘one of my son’s plays for Kansas and my other son plays for UTEP’.”

Justin is just hoping he gets a chance to see his brother on the field during Saturday’s game.

“I talk him about the game. He’s looking forward to it. Hopefully we will see each other on special teams,” Justin said.

No matter which team is victorious this weekend, one KU football player will still check the UTEP athletics website everyday, as Justin Springer will be closely following his twin brother, Jeremy.