KSAL Staff - April 20, 2015 8:00 am
MAC STEVENSON LIVES IN SALINA, AND WRITES A WEEKLY COLUMN FOR OVER TEN NEWSPAPERS IN KANSAS
Kansas and Kansas State will play their intersquad football games this coming Saturday to wind up spring practice. The focus of both teams is finding quarterbacks that can excel next season.
Kansas State’s game will begin at 3:00 p.m. at Kansas City Sporting Park; the Wildcats are playing in KC because of the construction going on at Snyder Family Stadium. K-States’ game will be available for internet viewing on K-State HDTV; however, this is a subscription service so membership is necessary.
Coach Bill Snyder has indicated that the main QB competition is between junior Joe Hubener (6-4, 205) and sophomore Jesse Ertz (6-4. 210). Hubener and Ertz will both play substantial minutes in the spring game.
Kansas will have their intersquad game at Memorial Stadium with a 1:00 p.m. kickoff. Cox Kansas (022 & 2022 HD) will televise the game live. This will be the Jayhawks’ first public performance under their new coach, David Beaty, and his staff.
KU quarterbacks—senior Michael Cummings (5-10, 210) and junior Montell Cozart (6-2, 195)—are contending for the starting position. So far Cummings has been the better competitor during their careers.
Offensive coordinator Rob Lyles knows that he has to find out whether or not Cozart has matured enough to handle the pressure and hitting in college football. He said after a recent full-tackle scrimmage: “I gotta know that . . . we gotta see how they function when they know they can get hit.” Unless Cozart has matured into a young man, it appears that Cummings will start the season at number-one QB.
Last week the Kansas basketball team received their most important player commitment for the 2015-16 season and it wasn’t from a high school player. Perry Ellis decided to come back for his senior year at KU and that’s vital for the Jayhawks.
With Ellis back, Coach Bill Self has two factors that haven’t been simultaneously present on his team for some time: talent and experience. At point guard and shooting guard and small forward, Self will have junior Frank Mason, Sophomore Devanteʹ Graham, junior Wayne Selden, junior Brannen Greene, and sophomore Svi Mykhailiuk. The prediction here is that the six-foot-eight Mykhailiuk—with added strength and maturity—will become one of the best perimeter players in the nation next winter.
At forward, a steadily improving Ellis has become an established big-time player and senior Jamari Traylor could still develop into a special talent. Junior Landen Lucas gained valuable experience at center last season and he improved as the season progressed. Hunter Mickelson will be a senior and he’s also experienced. Mickelson is a sleeper and might earn substantial playing time.
KU received a letter-of-intent from Carlton Bragg (6-9, 225), who is ranked as the 15th best player coming out of high school by Rivals.com.
Self was elated and said, “Carlton is a legitimate 6-foot-9 inch scoring-and shooting-type of power forward . . . he’s certainly one of the more skilled big guys that we’ve signed since we’ve been here.”
Bragg averaged 21.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks for his state-champion team (23-4) in Cleveland and earned Ohio Div. III Player of the Year honors. Bragg also made the McDonalds’ team and will give KU inside-outside scoring ability, much like Ellis.
Self is still trying to recruit another big center and a shooting guard. The ten aforementioned players will be ready to go this fall; one or two more talented recruits will put Kansas among the top five teams in the nation.
After an encouraging 7-0 start, the Kansas City Royals’ baseball team has been firmly reestablished on planet earth. KC’s record after last Saturday night’s 5-0 loss to Oakland was 8-3; that’s still excellent, but problems are emerging.
Right fielder Alex Rios (fractured finger) and closer Greg Holland (strained chest muscle) are on the disabled list and that’s not a good omen. And Alcides Escobar has a slightly strained knee that doesn’t seem to be serious. However, what’s really troubling is the starting pitching.
Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie, and Yordano Ventura were all smacked around in their last starts. And Ventura has been showing that he still has some growing up to do.
Ventura and Danny Duffy are the one and two starters and they both have maturity issues; KC might miss James Shields’ leadership more than anticipated.
Anyone who thinks Brandon Finnegan is ready to come up from Omaha as a starter is first in line for another think. Finnegan was slapped around unmercifully in his first start at Omaha.
Kansas City is still off to a favorable beginning, but the early injuries and starting pitching are cause for concern.