There’s a weak link on every team, but also a strength. This series will look at the strongest and weakest position groups for each Big 12 team heading into the fall.
On Wednesday, we continue the series with Kansas.
The Jayhawks have arguably the best returning cornerback duo in the Big 12 with JaCorey Shepherd and Dexter McDonald. They combined for 27 passes defensed in 2013, each ranking in the top 10 in the conference in that category. And Shepherd and McDonald still have room to grow as individual players.
KU’s safeties are just as productive. Isaiah Johnson was the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year after making 73 tackles and intercepting five passes during his first season in the conference. Fellow safety Cassius Sendish was right behind Johnson with 67 tackles of his own.
Add cornerbacks Kevin Short and Greg Allen, who looked ready to contribute during the spring, and the Jayhawks secondary brings experience, production and depth to the field on Saturdays this fall, three traits several other Big 12 teams wish they had on their rosters.
Weakest position: Offensive line
If KU has any hope of John Reagan’s offense taking off during his first season as offensive coordinator, the offensive line will have to reach new heights.
The Jayhawks return a league-worst 34 career starts along the offensive line, with All-Big 12 honorable mention guard Ngalu Fusimalohi as the lone returnee with double-digit starts (12). Reagan, who is the offensive line coach in addition to his coordinator duties, is tasked with making the inexperienced group the foundation of his offense’s success.
KU has five different returnees with starting experience and will add ESPN 300 center Jacob Bragg into the mix this summer so the Jayhawks have options to work with. Head coach Charlie Weis has promised the Jayhawks will strive to put their top five offensive linemen on the field, regardless of their previous position, so the summer and preseason could feature plenty of shuffling along the offensive line.
Fusimalohi is a great place to start but plenty of work remains for Reagan and Weis to transform this unit one of the strengths of the team.