University of Kansas

Five things to watch for at KU football’s ‘Late Night Under the Lights’

Les Miles on a potential breakout player from the spring

Kansas Jayhawks football coach Les Miles talks about a potential standout player from the spring. He spoke to reporters on April 2, 2019 after practice.
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Kansas Jayhawks football coach Les Miles talks about a potential standout player from the spring. He spoke to reporters on April 2, 2019 after practice.

The Kansas football team will hold its “Late Night Under the Lights” event at 6 p.m. Saturday at Booth Memorial Stadium. There is no admission charge for the event, and the showcase will be televised locally on Spectrum Sports KC (listing of other networks in Kansas here) and streamed outside Kansas and the KC metro area on ESPN+.

In addition, KU’s alumni football game will take place at 5, while rapper Rick Ross’ concert will start following the spring game.

Here are five things to watch for Saturday:

1. Return of MacVittie

KU has split its quarterback reps between incumbent Carter Stanley and newcomer Thomas MacVittie this spring, but odds are that MacVittie will open the season as the team’s starter. The 6-foot-5 junior is an interesting story; he originally committed to Pitt but fell down the depth chart at QB with a new offensive coordinator, playing some on the punt return team before announcing he would transfer. MacVittie, who was recruited briefly by Les Miles out of high school when the coach was still at LSU, spent a year at Mesa CC in Arizona before becoming one of Miles’ first commitments at KU late last fall. How he performs on a big stage in a scrimmage-type setting will one storyline to watch.

2. Emerging receivers?

KU lacks returning production at receiver, yet the position seems to have a high ceiling. Alabama transfer Daylon Charlot never lived up to expectations with the previous staff — he had 12 catches in 2018 — but could be one of the team’s potential breakout players. Juco transfers Ezra Naylor (6-4) and Andrew Parchment (6-2) also fit the large-body-type mold that Miles went searching for with his first recruiting class, and both are likely to take on starting roles based on what they’ve shown in practices so far.

3. Secure in the secondary?

KU will be facing major turnover on its front seven defensively, but one area that should be solid is the back end. Safeties Michael Lee and Bryce Torneden are two of the team’s most accomplished players, while Davon Ferguson also has had a good spring. At cornerback, two-year starter Hasan Defense and talented sophomore Corione Harris are the most likely to start after playing a majority of the snaps last season. A productive day from the secondary would be a good sign if KU is looking to avoid taking a step back defensively in 2019.

4. Celeb sightings

KU is expecting to have quite a few NFL stars back for its 5 p.m. alumni game, including Chris Harris, Aqib Talib, Bradley McDougald and Todd Reesing. Look for those guys to have fun — and at least be a little competitive — as they battle to win a 12-foot trophy awarded to the winning team.

5. The main event

Let’s be honest: Much of this night will be about rapper Rick Ross, who will perform after the completion of KU’s spring game. His appearance marks a change in the event from years past, giving it a more big-time feel while also potentially playing well to both current players and recruits. It also could potentially bring many non-diehard KU football fans out to Saturday’s festivities, which could give Memorial Stadium a better atmosphere than many of the regular-season games played last fall.

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