Kansas receiver Steven Sims wasn’t sure exactly how many yards he needed to reach 1,000 during an interview session with reporters Tuesday.
He knew this much, though.
“I think I have to have a good game this week,” Sims said with a smile. “Like, a career-high game.”
He was right. The sophomore has 818 yards, meaning he’ll need 182 against Kansas State on Saturday to reach that plateau.
Even if he comes up short, Sims can take comfort in knowing he’ll be considered one of KU’s biggest success stories in 2016.
After a quiet freshman year, the 5-foot-10 Sims emerged this season to become KU’s first 600-yard receiver since 2009. His seven touchdown receptions also are the most by a Jayhawk since President Barack Obama’s first year in office.
Sims rededicated himself last summer, deciding that his 30 catches and 349 yards weren’t enough. He studied film of NFL players Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders — sub-6-foot receivers like himself — and received a packet of drills from KU receivers coach Jason Phillips, completing the workouts on his own to improve his route-running and reduce his 40-yard dash time.
“I think Steven’s done a great job of listening and being coachable,” Phillips said. “The performance and stats he gets are due to his work and his commitment to getting better as a football player.”
Sims also credits Phillips, who joined KU last December.
“I’ve learned a lot from him since he’s got here,” Sims said. “I know he has a lot more to teach me. I’m just a student, and I’m trying to soak in everything he tells me and write it down, get it in my mind, because he’s going to make me a better player.”
Because Sims is still an underclassman, he has more time to improve at KU. Phillips says if 1,000 yards doesn’t happen this year, it should in the future.
“It’s a great number. I would like a 1,000-yard receiver,” Phillips said. “I’ll spend more time — if he doesn’t reach that mark — I’ll spend more time in the offseason talking about the yards that were left out there.”
Sims doesn’t even want to settle at that total.
“I really want to go for, like, 1,200 next year,” Sims said. “I want to go crazy.”
Before that, though, there’s something else to accomplish this season. Following a 24-21 overtime victory over Texas, Sims wants to see KU follow up with another strong game.
“I don’t want everybody to think our win last week was a fluke,” Sims said. “I want to go out and fight this week and try to get another W.”
Kansas at Kansas State
WHEN: 11 a.m. Saturday
WHERE: Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kan.
TV: Fox Sports 1
Other story lines
1. CHASING HISTORY: Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong’s 10 sacks are tied for third-most by a KU player in a single season. Ron Warner (14 1/2 ) and Algie Atkinson (11) are the only two players in front of Armstrong.
2. A CONTINUING SKID? KU has had at least two turnovers in each game this season — a streak that seems likely to continue against Kansas State. The Wildcats are tied for third in the Big 12 with 19 takeaways.
3. COMPETING FOR THE TITLE: KU’s two starting safeties both have a chance to finish as the top solo tackler in the Big 12. Freshman Mike Lee leads the conference with 61 unassisted tackles, and senior Fish Smithson is tied for second with 59.