Finding a way to contribute
- Nov. 6, 2009
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Freshman safety Brandon Hawks hasn’t seen the field on a Saturday this year.
Freshman fullback Tyler Hunt? He has as many rushing yards as Big Jay, White Owl and your lazy roommate combined.
Still, it’s hard to miss their impact on the field if you know where to look.
In the Colorado game, Todd Reesing threw a lateral pass to Kerry Meier, who then tossed it downfield back to Reesing for a big gain. Colorado’s safety wasn’t the first defender faked out on the lateral.
Hawks bit on the fake in practice earlier in the week.
“It just shows how if we give them a good look, it pays off,” Hawks says.
As members of the scout team offense and defense during the week, Hunt and Hawks play major roles in what Reesing, Meier and Stuckey do on Saturdays.
They don’t dress out for games or travel with the team, but they spurned offers from smaller schools for the opportunity to help out a Kansas program they’ve always dreamed about playing for.
Hunt says he notices how the scout team’s work in practice helps the offense and defense every Saturday.
“If you give them a good look and you go hard, then you can usually see it in the game,” Hunt says. “If you watch the position you play and you watch one of our guys cover our position that really
Hawks, a 5-foot-9 safety, and Hunt, a 6-foot-2 fullback, are both from Kansas: Hunt from right here in Lawrence and Hawks from tiny Oskaloosa. They admitted that the differences between high school football and Division I football are vast, so they both took redshirts last year to help them in the transition.
“We were a pretty small football environment so coming here, I was just kind of in awe,” Hawks says. “It was nice having that year just to adapt and learn everything. It was really a good adjustment period and I feel that it really benefitted me quite a bit.”
Hunt says his redshirt year was key for adding muscle in the weight room and preparing mentally to play at the higher level.
So they’re still freshmen this year. And they both plan on playing for the next four years. Dressing out for a game, or making the “two deep” roster for any position, is among their main goals, but they won’t settle for just that.
Hawks and Hunt want scholarships.
Hunt had offers to walk on at New Mexico and Kansas State and several scholarship offers from smaller schools. Hawks had other smaller offers as well. But now-defensive coordinator Clint Bowen spoke with Hunt and Hawks during their senior years at Lawrence High and Oskaloosa High respectively. He convinced them to come out for the team.
They have goals outside of dressing out and getting a scholarship too. Hunt wants to manage a business. Hawks wants to be a football coach. He doesn’t know at what level.
“I’ve learned so much,” Hawks says. “Coming out of high school, you’re the big bad jock and you think you know everything. But when I got here it was like, ‘Wow.’ It really feels like I’ve stepped up my knowledge of the game and it’s going to help me it out with my players.”
And if Hawks’ and Hunt’s dreams to play go unfulfilled, just seeing the team succeed is the “ultimate goal.”
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Bowen laughs when asked about the offensive scout team’s effect on his defense.
The group, led by freshman quarterback Kale Pick, doesn’t back down from the challenge of taking on a Big 12 defense.
“Our scout team offense that comes against us does an unbelievable job,” Bowen says.
Defensive graduate assistant Kevin Carberry works with the scout team each week, watching film of the opponent and trying to mirror the other team’s style of play.
“He gets them fired up,” Bowen says. “Those kids, if they make on a play on us, it’s like they won the Super Bowl. They celebrate and jump up and down.”
“Our scout team offense is very good.”
Todd Reesing was the third-string quarterback his freshman year. When his redshirt was pulled in a game against Colorado, he jumped up the depth chart to the starter. So he’s never been an integral part of the scout team offense, but he realizes its necessity.
“Those guys giving us a good look is very important to our success,” Reesing says. “They work hard trying to give us the best look they can to kind of show the way what we might think the other team is going to play us like.”
Hawks and Hunt practice just as much as any other players on the team. The only difference is that they haven’t seen the field on Saturdays.
The wear and tear of the daily grind of the game is completely worth it for Hawks.
“As soon as you get here, you just feel a part of a family,” Hawks says. “The sense of belonging is just a great feeling. It’s just a nice escape from the troubles of the real world. When you’re out there on the field, you don’t even think about anything else. You’re just focused.”
Hunt admitted that the routine of weights in the morning and then film and practice in the afternoon is a lot tougher than his high school football routine, but being “part of something” makes it worth it.
Hawks and Hunt likely won’t make any appearances on ABC or ESPN.
As the bells sound from AC/DC’s “Hells Bells,” they are sitting the stands and not busting out of the doors of the Anderson Family Football Complex.
But for now, that’s fine with them. They’ll keep working on the practice field to find playing time, even if that doesn’t come this year or next year.
“Growing up, this was a game I just loved,” Hawks says. “Getting to do it every day, I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.”