University of Kansas

This former KU basketball player is now a top offensive weapon for the football team

James Sosinski says team is in best playing shape he’s seen

Kansas Jayhawks tight end James Sosinski says the team is in the best playing shape he's seen. He spoke to reporters on Sept. 3, 2019, on KU's campus.
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Kansas Jayhawks tight end James Sosinski says the team is in the best playing shape he's seen. He spoke to reporters on Sept. 3, 2019, on KU's campus.

James Sosinski’s scoring drought ended Saturday.

The Kansas senior tight end caught a 10-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter — a key moment in the Jayhawks’ 24-17 home victory over Indiana State.

“I think it was like four years since I’ve scored a touchdown in a real game,” Sosinski said. “It was cool.”

His actual KU scoreless streak, though, was not officially that long.

Sosinski, who’s in his third year with the KU football program, has been best known in Lawrence for another sport, as he joined the Jayhawks’ basketball roster as a one-time walk-on in 2017-18.

As a forward, he had the team’s final points that season, putting in a bank shot with 17 seconds left during garbage time in KU’s 95-79 Final Four loss to Villanova.

Sosinski, then, is uniquely qualified to answer certain questions.

Like this: Whose defense is better: Villanova’s in basketball or Indiana State’s in football?

“Villanova,” he said with a smile.

OK, but which highlight are you more proud of: The Final Four jumper or Saturday’s touchdown catch?

Sosinski says he prefers the TD.

“I just feel like it matters so much more,” Sosinski said. “Not that the Final Four score didn’t matter, but it’s just been a long road, especially the seasons past and just all the work that we put into this winter, this summer, this camp.

“It was great to just see the hard work pay off.”

For Sosinski, getting to the top of the depth chart has certainly taken some persistence.

After first being discovered by the Jayhawks’ coaching staff at an Arizona prospect camp, Sosinski joined KU’s football roster in 2017 but didn’t see the field as a sophomore. Then, last year, he solely participated on special teams, and even then only in a handful of games.

The lack of playing time didn’t deter Sosinski from giving football a final try his senior year.

“I had a really good offseason, just working hard,” Sosinski said. “Just got a little bit stronger, a little bit faster.”

The new coaching staff has taken notice.

The 6-foot-7, 260-pound Sosinski saw extensive action during Saturday’s opener, posting two receptions while also playing 32 of KU’s 65 offensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

“He can definitely be big for us,” KU quarterback Carter Stanley said. “Obviously just his size alone, his ball skills ... I think he could be a big part of this offense.”

His best moment came in the third quarter. After faking a run block, Sosinski sneaked away for a pass, pulling in the 10-yard touchdown reception that pushed KU’s lead to 16-3.

A few seconds after, he peeked up to see his father — James Sr. — hugging and high-fiving other family members in the stands.

“I could just see it in my dad’s eyes, kind of walking back to the sidelines, seeing him,” Sosinski said. “It was great to show him I could play a little bit.”

The congratulatory texts piled up as well. KU coach Bill Self, assistant Norm Roberts and basketball trainer Bill Cowgill were among those who sent messages to Sosinski’s phone.

And perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising ... Sosinski, the next day, celebrated the win by taking his dad to the driving range at Eagle Bend Golf Course. Turns out Sosinski’s a pretty good golfer as well, calling it his fourth-best sport ... behind football, basketball and baseball (he used to play first base and pitch).

Sosinski’s college eligibility will center on a single sport from here on out. That will be football, where he hopes to make more positive memories after an encouraging first week.

“I always just loved the game too much to give it up,” Sosinski said. “So I’m just glad I stuck with it and kept going.”

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Jesse Newell — he’s won an EPPY for best sports blog and previously has been named top beat writer in his circulation by AP’s Sports Editors — has covered KU sports since 2008. His interest in sports analytics comes from his math teacher father, who handed out rulers to Trick-or-Treaters each year.