|Senior tight end Trent Smiley (left) discusses recent play during fall camp.
|Returning TE Career Stats
Coach Weis Transcript (.pdf) | Fall Camp Central
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Amidst the Kansas football team’s first two-a-day practice of the season, head coach Charlie Weis addressed the state of the team followed by requested tight ends who met with the media Wednesday at the Anderson Family Football Complex.
Before the Jayhawks completed their first-ever practice in the newly renovated Memorial Stadium in the evening, Weis opened the media ceremonies around noon by restating that throughout camp he has stuck to his word of stepping back and letting his assistants coach.
“(I’m) just minding my own business,” Weis said. “That’s what I’m doing. I’m helping out the offense, helping out the defense and getting very involved in the special teams, which I have been this whole camp.”
Focusing on the tight ends now, the player who is going to be looked upon most in the group to perform well will be senior Jimmay Mundine who led the Jayhawks in touchdown receptions last season. Tight ends coach Jeff Blasko acknowledged that Mundine will be a big part of the offense, but there are other guys ready to step in and make positive contributions.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Blasko said. “We have a lot of competition in the group with Jimmay who obviously has played a lot of football and Trent Smiley (senior) who has played a lot of football. Jordan Shelley-Smith (sophomore) came on and played a little bit last season, he’s had a great offseason and Ben Johnson (redshirt freshman) has a huge ceiling. Between those four guys it’ll be interesting to see how the competition plays out in fall camp.”
Even though there will only be one guy taking a majority of the snaps this year at tight end, Smiley, or anyone else in the group, is upset or feeling left out because according to Smiley, the tight ends are as tight knit of a group as it gets.
“I think the most unique thing the tight end group has compared to everyone else is a sense of being a unit,” Smiley said. “We’re all very competitive people and all wanting to be the starter. However, there is no one more excited when a tight end catches a pass or a touchdown or pancakes some guy than his fellow tight ends. I’m not here to say that’s not something consistent throughout the team, but we are a unit we’re all guys who are friends and relying on each other.”
Waiting for their opportunity to showcase their talents are Smiley, Shelley-Smith and Johnson who all have tried to improve on different areas in the offseason and during camp. Shelley-Smith is going through his third KU fall camp and this year he believes there is a lot of competition in every position group.
“It’s going well, there’s good competition,” Shelley-Smith said. “It’s my third year, there’s been good competition each year, but each year you can see the progression through winter and summer workouts. But camp really has been good. We bonded over the summer and we’re sticking close together right now.”
Johnson, who elected to redshirt in 2013, feels he has gained a better sense of the game and has grown into a more mature player who is ready to help in whatever spot he’s needed.
“Honestly the biggest thing I learned was motivation,” Johnson said. “I took that year and every day I just looked at it as a day I could get better and a day I can show the coaches I want to be out there and play. I am just trying to keep that going and just keep that throughout my career while I am here.”
With the offseason addition of offensive coordinator John Reagan implementing a new offensive regime with his spread style offense, some think the tight end position is going to disappear from the Jayhawks’ arsenal. Blasko doesn’t believe that to be the case with the tempo of the offense allowing tight ends to line up and be a threat from anywhere on the field.
“In terms of the offense itself, I like it because it allows guys to play fast and puts more on the play caller to get the offense in the right particular call,” Blasko said. “In terms of the position group, I expect to see much more comfort with the offensive system now that we’ve been through spring practice and obviously summer.”
Whether it’s making key blocks in the run game or streaking down the field for a reception, Blasko and his group realize that tight end is an important position for the team and they are willing to do whatever it takes to help out.
“Expectations for the season in our group are to do whatever we have to do to help get this offensive system going and contributing anyway we can,” Blasko said.
The team has bought into the memo of contributing in any way possible and translating that into victories in 2014. Weis closed his press conference reiterating that point and acknowledging the doubters, while still establishing the attitude of the Jayhawks this season.
“So I know the sky is falling around Kansas football; I got that, I’ve heard,” Weis said. “Inside the building, there’s nothing falling around here because we’re getting ready to go, and the only way we’re going to change anyone’s mind is on the field.”
With the completion of their evening practice on Wednesday, the Jayhawks concluded their first two-a-day of the year. Thursday, requested defensive linemen are scheduled to be interviewed at 12:00 p.m., at the Anderson Family Football Complex.
Fans can get their first opportunity to see the 2014 edition of the Kansas football team on Saturday, Aug. 16 for Fan Appreciation Day. The festivities will take place at Memorial Stadium beginning at 1:30 p.m. Practice will end at 4:15 p.m., and those in attendance will have the opportunity to get autographs from players and staff who will be set up around the newly renovated field inside the stadium.
To stay up to date during fall camp follow the Jayhawks online via 2014 Fall Camp Central and on Twitter @KU_Football.
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