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Biggest shoes to fill: Kansas

During the next two weeks, we'll be looking at the biggest shoes that need to be filled on every team in the Big 12.

We continue the series with the Kansas Jayhawks.

Defensive end Ben Goodman

Kansas needed a lot more guys like Ben Goodman last season.

As far as leaders in the locker room go, Goodman was the alpha dog for the Jayhawks last season. He was by far the most experienced player on the squad, so reliable that he started 36 consecutive games. No other teammate had a streak of more than 10.

After playing a number of pass-rushing roles in his career, Goodman was at his best as a senior with a team-best 9.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. But he proved just as valuable for holding his peers accountable.

The Jayhawks needed a lot of that over the course of a brutal 0-12 season. New coach David Beaty emphasized holding meetings in which only he and the players gathered to speak whatever truths needed to be said. The MVP of those sessions was indisputable.

“Ben Goodman has been the best,” Beaty said. “None of our guys will mess with him.”

Not an easy role to take on, but Goodman wasn’t going to let these guys give up.

“They’re your boys and you don’t want to call your boys out, but that’s the main people I’m calling out: the people I’ve been around a long time,” Goodman said in November. “Because I know what they’re capable of and I know what they can do. It is tough calling out your boys, but it’s something you have to do if you want to win.”

Somebody has to step up on this young team and follow in Goodman’s footsteps as a leader. Kansas also needs Damani Mosby and Anthony Olobia, both of whom will be seniors, to fill the void he leaves at defensive end.

Dorance Armstrong has big potential and got a lot of snaps as a true freshman in 2015. He could end up being a multi-year starter. But who’s going to be the short-term answer at the other spot?

Olobia and Mosby combined for seven starts last season and have to improve this offseason, because there are currently no defensive ends – junior college or high school – committed for the 2016 class. It’s up to these two to try to make a positive difference the way Goodman did.