Two top freshmen likely will play in opener, says KU football coach Charlie Weis

08/13/2014 2:29 PM

08/13/2014 2:45 PM

Kansas football coach Charlie Weis said Wednesday that he won’t hesitate to play two of his most highly touted true freshmen this season. In fact, both running back Corey Avery and linebacker Kyron Watson could see the field in Kansas’ opener against Southeast Missouri State on Sept. 6.

Avery, a Dallas native, was rated as a three-star recruit, while Watson was a coveted three-star recruit from East St. Louis. Both have positioned themselves to move up the depth chart after one week of fall camp.

“I’d be surprised if they didn’t play in the first game,” Weis said. “Both of them are natural, both of them are instinctive. Obviously, they’re lacking in experience.”

Weis has said that Avery, who is listed at 5 feet 10 and 195 pounds, will begin his career as a running back — though he could transition into a hybrid pass-catching threat in the future.

“Corey has probably been our most exciting guy,” Weis said. “I wouldn’t say our best guy, but our most exciting guy. The defense would probably give you the same guy.”

Avery, though, could be in for a battle for snaps in a competitive backfield. Seniors Brandon Bourbon and Taylor Cox appear in line for major carries, and Weis stressed that junior college transfer De’Andre Mann is still competing for the No. 1 spot on the depth chart.

Still, Weis appeared excited about Avery’s long-term potential.

“I’m not ready to put him in Canton,” Weis said.

Watson, meanwhile, is spending fall camp learning under senior middle linebacker Ben Heeney. If Watson isn’t ready to contribute at linebacker, he could still earn playing time on special teams.

“Kyron is a sideline to sideline to player,” Weis said, “and he’s got leadership that’s a little bit suppressed because he’s a freshman.”

KU still waiting on two newcomers

Weis said he had no update on incoming linebacker Josh Ehambe, who is still working through an eligibility related to his high school, Prime Prep Academy, an embattled prep school started by former NFL cornerback Deion Sanders. In addition, junior college linebacker Damani Mosby is still finishing up academic work in order to finish his associate’s degree, Weis said.

Vote to pick uniforms

Kansas fans will have the opportunity to select the Jayhawks’ week-one uniform combo in an upcoming vote. The vote will be launched at the KU Kickoff at Corinth Square in Prairie Village on Aug. 22 and will last through Sept. 2. According to the athletic department, fans will be able to vote for their jersey combination of choice through text message. The recently released “Crimson Chrome” combination will not be among the combos included in the vote.

Quick hits

Kansas will hold an open practice for Fan Appreciation Day on Saturday. The practice begins at 1:30 p.m. in Memorial Stadium with an autograph session to follow. … Weis said sophomore safety Tevin Shaw was among Kansas’ most improved players on defense. … The place-kicking battle between sophomore Matt Wyman and freshman John Duvic is ongoing.

To reach Rustin Dodd, call 816-234-4937 or send email to rdodd@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rustindodd.

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