The all-time Kansas Jayhawk starting 11 offensive players is a highly debated topic at The Wheel. Riggins or Sayers? Reesing or Jalon Daniels? Tony Sands or Pooka?
Kansas Jayhawk Football’s first season was 1890, 132 years ago. There are few NCAA teams with as long a history as KU. If we’re being honest, Memorial Stadium (built in 1921) is older than many NCAA teams. Recent history has been hard, but over 132 years, some great players have played in the Sunflower State.
As with any all time team, we need to lay out the rules up front. Each position will have a starter and a backup. We’ll run a 2 RB, 2WR, 1 TE offense. Stats will be considered, but are not the only factor. Let’s get to it…below, your all-time Kansas Jayhawk starting 11 offense!
Sorry Todd Reesing and Bobby Douglass fans, but John Hadl gets the start. He is the only Jayhawk to be named an All-American at 2 different positions (Halfback and QB). He started both ways as a sophomore at Halfback and Defensive Back before taking over the QB job his junior season. Hadl was named the KU player of the Century and still holds two Jayhawk records: Longest Interception return for TD (98 yds, vs TCU) and longest punt (94 yds vs Oklahoma).
The backup spot goes to Bobby Douglass.
The two starters should not be much of a surprise. Gale Sayers and John Riggins are both NFL hall of famers, Kansas locals, and Jayhawk legends. As a 2 RB team, Sayers will get the start at RB and Riggins will play Fullback. This team could run the ball 90% of the time and win, especially with Hadl’s running ability.
The backup spot goes to Tony Sands…a 5’6″ dynamo who carried the rock 58 times IN ONE GAME against Mizzou for 396 yds and 4 TDs.
Let’s acknowledge up front that Kansas has only recently been known for throwing the ball. Our two starters shouldn’t surprise fans of the Mangino-era: Dez Briscoe and Kerry Meier. Both Briscoe and Meier were Todd Reesing’s top targets on the Jayhawk teams of the late 00s. Both sit atop the Jayhawk record books for catches, yards, and receiving TDs.
Backup spot: Steven Sims Jr. Honorable Mention: Bob Dole
This should be no surprise to Jayhawk fans…Otto Schnellbacher the “double-threat from Sublette” starred for the Football and Basketball teams during his time in Lawrence. Schnelly racked up 58 catches for 1069 yds during his Jayhawk time. Voted the Jayhawks first All American in 1947, Schnelly would go on to play professional football and basketball.
Backup spot: Mason Fairchild (consider this pick either a genius prediction of future success for Fairchild or a lack of TE talent at KU).
With a starting 5 that features three All Americans and three Ring of Honor members, this group can open some holes. At Left Tackle, Anthony Collins (2007). Collins was a first team AP All-American and finalist for the Outland Trophy. At Right Tackle, Larry Brown (the only non-All-American), who also played Tight End for the Jayhawks during the 1971 season. At Right Guard, Oliver Spencer. All-American and Ring of Honor member from the 1952 team. At Center, George Mrkonic. Mrkonic also punted and played D line during his time in Lawrence, so a position change to Center shouldn’t be a problem. At Left Guard, Mike McCormack. A ring of honor member from the 1950 team, McCormack is a Pro-Football Hall of Famer for his coaching career.
Backup spot: Fred Hageman
There it is…your all-time Kansas Jayhawk starting 11 offense. Next up: Defensive team.
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