LAWRENCE — Last fall, Matthew Wyman was a run-of-the-mill KU freshman, living in the dorms, going to classes, presumably scrounging for cheap pizza.
By RUSTIN DODD
The Kansas City Star
One year later, the sophomore projects as the Jayhawks’ starting field-goal kicker after out-performing the competition during fall camp. KU coach Charlie Weis unveiled the news during a press conference on Friday in the most Weisian way possible.
First, he stated that the starting field-goal kicker would be the kicker that performed best during the last few weeks. He then facetiously challenged the reporters in the room, saying that the choice was obvious if the media had attended KU’s open practices.
When a reporter spoke up: “It’s Wyman?” Weis answered: “It’s Wyman.”
Which begs the question: Who’s Wyman?
A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Wyman walked on the team last spring after Weis advertised around campus that he was searching for a kicker. After performing adequately in the spring game, Wyman then outperformed a group of kickers that included Michael Mesh, a transfer from Hutchinson Community College who began the fall atop the depth chart.
“He came in here a distant (kicker) in the initial thought process,” Weis said. “But he’s a candidate to be the field-goal kicker because he’s kicked so well.
“He’s got good pop, he’s got good range, he has no problem making it from 50 yards. He’s been very consistent, and he has a legitimate chance of being named the field-goal kicker.”
While Wyman will likely handle the field-goal duties, kickoff duties appear slated to go to junior college transfer Trevor Pardula, who also projects to be the starting punter.
Other position battles
Kansas’ week-one bye means Weis has some extra time to declare a winner in a litany of camp position battles. Still, Weis gave a few hints about the status of some of those battles on Friday.
If the season started this weekend, Weis said, highly touted junior college transfer Marquel Combs would not be on the Jayhawks’ first-string defense. Combs began the camp at defensive end, but he’s recently been working some at nose tackle.
“There’s a lot of guys in that category,” Weis said “(where) their reputations are really high and their ceilings are really high. But are they better than the guy in front of them?”
One name not in that category, Weis said, is safety Isaiah Johnson, a junior college transfer who has locked up a starting spot in the secondary. Weis also anticipates that cornerback Kevin Short, a transfer form Fort Scott, will be ready to play in the Jayhawks’ season opener despite arriving on campus for practice earlier this week.
In addition, Weis said junior “Buck” linebacker Michael Reynolds was finally turning a corner after failing to tap into his vast potential last year. Even so, Weis said sophomore Ben Goodman had held onto the starting spot at the Buck position.