Football Fall Camp: First Practice in the Books for 2013 Jayhawks
The 2013 Kansas Jayhawks took to the field for the first time Thursday as fall camp entered its second day. All but two of this year’s team arrived Wednesday and attended the team’s first meeting and the group was up and at it early Thursday with the annual conditioning test. More meetings were on the docket throughout the morning before selected offensive players were made available to the media after lunch and prior to the team’s first practice. Selected comments from those players are listed below.
Jake Heaps, Jr., Quarterback
On Tony Pierson…
“There is only one way to describe him, he’s so explosive. He’s such a fun player to watch and be around, he is just a natural at everything. We first threw him out there as wide receiver, I remember thinking to myself, this guy has never ran a route, and he is looking good right now. He’s just gotten better and better as we’ve continued to work together and he’ll get better throughout this camp. I’m excited for us to just continue to get closer together and get on the same page. Tony is going to be a huge asset to us in this offense.”
On why confidence is so important…
“Really when you talk about how close we were to winning games last year, it was more of a mentality than it was physically. When we were up versus Texas, we were on the sidelines and guys were looking around like, ‘We might win this.’ Instead of, ‘We got this.’ And I couldn’t believe we were like that. We’ve been beating these guys all game long. For us, we’ve really worked on our confidence, which we have to work for. You have to work in the offseason and you have to work extremely hard in the weight room and off the field and you’re out running 7-on-7 and we met extra watching film. These guys are feeling confident because they put in the work, they’re prepared for this moment, and we’re going to continue to prepare the best we can for this season. We’ve improved so much as a football team. We’re only going to get better and better.”
James Sims, Sr., Halfback
On needing 1360 yards to become the all-time rushing leader at Kansas…
“That’s a goal for me and that was what I was told I needed to break it. That’s what I’m looking forward to this season, breaking that record and being the all-time leading rusher.”
On working with Charlie Weis while he changes the program around…
“It’s been great working with Coach Weis. Obviously last year wasn’t a successful season for us. As you can see, we’ve progressed and got better from last season and the years before. Over half of those games were just a coin-flip away from seeing who won. I feel like Coach Weis has just brought a hard edge to us, with the strength staff that he brought in, and the coaching staff he brought in – he’s just changed the mentality of us and how we think and he has just made us better.”
Tony Pierson, Jr., F-Back
On Jake Heaps’ personality…
” I look at Jake like a second coach on the football field. He’ll tell you what’s right, what’s wrong – he knows what he’s doing, [in] everything, every position. He knows what’s going on. He’s a coach on the field.”
On the team’s confidence for the season…
“I look at the confidence coming from the spring game, carrying on from the off season, to the weight room and conditioning and just working hard and staying focused.”
Pat Lewandowski, Jr., Offensive Lineman
On higher expectations for the upcoming season…
” Yes, there’s a lot of confidence that our offense is going to be pretty good. We’ve got the run game, and we are looking at (Jake) Heaps to open the pass game for us and we all think he will.”
On the team’s depth…
“There’s competition at almost every spot – that’s something different than we had last year. The competition is going to bring out the best in everyone.”
Christian Matthews, Sr., Wide Receiver
On how good the offense can be this fall…
“The sky is the limit. We have one of the best offensive coordinators in the game. As long as we stick to the game plan and trust Coach Weis, we should be fine.”
On what he is most looking forward to this year…
“Winning. Winning is the most important aspect and is the only thing that is on the team’s mind.”
Jimmay Mundine, Jr., Tight End
On how the team has prepared for this year, as compared to last year…
“Mentally we have a way better grasp on the offense because the amount of time and preparation we have given this offseason.”
On the strengths of the offense this season…
“The offense will be very balanced because we have so many running backs that can carry the ball and all of the guys on the field can win one-on-one battles with anyone they face.”
In the Pros
Thirteen former Kansas football players are vying for spots on NFL rosters and a few others are playing in the Canadian Football League. Former KU offensive lineman and McPherson, Kan., native, Tanner Hawkinson, was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals this year and the rookie was recently spotted in the first episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks (August 6). In the episode, available on HBO’s website, Hawkinson speaks in the segment on the Oklahoma Drill (33:00) during the Bengals’ first day of contact and is later shown competing in the drill. In all eight of the 13 Jayhawks will be in action tonight as NFL teams play, including Hawkinson and the Bengals against the Falcons on ESPN.
The team returns to the practice field Friday, but not before the defensive leaders take their turn in front of the media spotlights tomorrow afternoon.
A week from Friday, Kansas Athletics and the KU Alumni Association will join forces to host the family-friendly KU Kickoff pep rally presented by First National Bank at Corinth Square (83rd & Mission Road in Prairie Village, Kan.). Starting at 6 p.m., Kansas football head coach Charlie Weis, women’s basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson and track and field coach Stanley Redwine, who was recently named National Coach of the Year, will each address the crowd.
Kansas will open the 2013 football season by hosting South Dakota on Saturday, Sept. 7 in Memorial Stadium. Game time is slated for 6 p.m. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by contacting the Kansas Ticket Office at 1-800-34-HAWKS or via the web at KUAthletics.com.
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