With only one skill position starter returning to the 2015 Kansas Jayhawks offense, some players will make a name for themselves out of nowhere. Three top contenders come from very different backgrounds.
With all the changes coming to KU football this season, including a new coaching staff and the fewest returning starters of any Power-5 conference team, there promises to be some new faces making key contributions for the Jayhawks. Who could some of these new faces be? They could be names that are familiar to Jayhawk football fans, or a player that is almost entirely unknown to all but the most hardcore. This week, I’ll take a look at three different candidates for breakout offensive player of the year for Kansas football.
David Beaty and Rob Likens’s Air Raid scheme promises to prominently feature KU’s wide receiving corps. After the loss of leading receivers Jimmay Mundine, Nick Harwell, and Nigel King, the Jayhawks have to break in an almost entirely new and untested group of wide receivers. The receiver I believe will break out and surprise football observers is rising senior Tre Parmalee. He has certainly paid his dues, having sat behind players like Harwell, King, and Justin McCay. Parmalee was the Jayhawks’ leading receiver in the spring game, hauling in five passes, which was more than he had in all of 2014. Parmalee may also return punts or kickoffs for the Jayhawks this season. If he stays healthy, Parmalee will be a key contributor for the Jayhawks.
After the dismissal of running back Corey Avery, the Jayhawks will look to a variety of backs to make up for Avery’s lost production (631 yards, 5 TDs). One of these candidates is junior college transfer Ke’aun Kinner. Kinner was a junior college All-American at Navarro Junior College in 2014, rushing for 1,696 yards and 22 touchdowns. Kinner comes to KU with a reputation as a burner, running the 40-yard dash in the 4.4 second range. He may also return punts and/or kickoffs for the Jayhawks in 2015. Speed always translates from level to level, and Kinner could play a key role in the Jayhawk offense moving forward. An additional factor to Kinner’s potential success is his timing. He arrived in Lawrence for the spring practice season, allowing him time to learn the scheme and gain a rapport with coaches and offensive players.
A final candidate and the darkest of dark horses for breakout offensive player is wide receiver/running back Ryan Schadler. Schadler is a transfer from Wichita State, where he ran track. Schadler is an explosive athlete, having won three consecutive state titles in track and field for Hesston high school (KS). During football season, he rushed for an eye-popping 2,541 yards and 42 touchdowns. Schadler has speed, which will translate from the track to the gridiron. He rushed eight times for a game-high 45 yards in KU’s spring game. In a search for explosive playmakers, Schadler could play a key role, even as a walk-on.
The outlook for the Jayhawk offense in 2015 seems to be pretty bleak. The Jayhawks return one starter at a skill position, quarterback Michael Cummings. The rest of the Jayhawk skill players are new, and many are in the first year in the program. However, there are some talented players with skills that could translate into production for the 2015 Jayhawks. Tre Parmalee, Ke’aun Kinner, and Ryan Schadler could play surprisingly large roles if the Jayhawks are to exceed expectations next season.