A whole new roster and a whole lot of challenges: Kansas football is starting over



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LAWRENCE, Kansas — A whole different look for Kansas football this season.

This is a team clearly thin in spots. The Jayhawks lost a senior class of 20, and more than half the starters and backups from the November roster are no longer around for assorted reasons. During the offseason, Kansas was down to 60 scholarship players. That's five fewer than Penn State had when it was disciplined.

"That's a lot of guys that are gone," defensive coordinator Clint Bowen said. "We've lost a lot of leadership. Other kids in the program need to step up and fill that role."

At cornerback alone, Kansas doesn't return a single player with starting experience.

"It's obviously a factor," Bowen said. "We've been there before. It reminds me of when we were kind of in this position in 2007 and a guy named Chris Harris came in, started all 13 games as a true freshman and we win the Orange Bowl."

Cornerback Matthew Boateng played in seven games last season.

"We're much improved on every aspect physically," he said. "We're ready for whatever, whenever we're called upon."

There's still no timetable for the possible return for Michael Cummings, last season's starting quarterback. He went down with a knee injury in the spring game. Quarterbacks Montell Cozart and T.J. Millweard have drawn on his insights from the sideline.

"He's always engaged, trying to help every quarterback," Millweard said. "It's really nice to have someone who has game experience, and a lot of it, who can help us out."

The coaching staff understands the level of work ahead.

"There's a standard that we've brought here, and ultimately I've brought here, with regard to our team," coach David Beaty said. "The best way to say it is it's not for everybody, but it's the standard that is set."

Beaty insists that his players accept responsibility.

"I have not kicked a single kid off this team," he said. "They have put themselves in a position to where I couldn't help them anymore, unfortunately, and I hate that."

Roster additions include 25-year-old running back Taylor Cox. He was granted a sixth year of eligibility after sitting out two seasons because of an Achilles tendon injury in fall camp of 2014 and a hamstring injury in 2013.

"I'm ready to go," he said. "I feel good. Just getting out there with the guys is the most important thing for me. It feels good to be back with my brothers.

"I don't feel old," he added. I've put in my dues, spent my time here to really get to know the campus and the people of Lawrence. I don't feel old at all, but I do try to help out the younger folk on the team."

All in all, the Kansas players say they're working hard, whether they have the numbers or not.

"We just have to work with what we've got," Bowen said.

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