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Reported transfer target could create intrigue for KU football, track and field

Reported transfer target could create intrigue for KU football, track and field

 


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AP Photo/Sam Craft

Texas A&M offensive lineman Bryce Foster (61) waits for a ball against Kent State during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, September 4, 2021 in College Station, Texas.

The Kansas football team is reportedly targeting a player who could overhaul its offensive line even without participating in spring training.

That would be nothing new for transfer center Bryce Foster, who is used to a different lineup in the spring.

The former Texas A&M lineman did not early enroll with the Aggies as a freshman in 2021 because he was competing in the discus and shot put for his high school, Taylor High in Katy, Texas. According to The Bryan-College Station Eagle, he has also switched shots to taking spring repeats the past two seasons of his collegiate career.

Foster even competed at the NCAA track and field regionals on Wednesday night, recording a distance of 18.55 meters for a season-best finish and easily surpassing his pre-meet ranking of No. 36. But he missed the top-12 threshold. to qualify for the national championship by one place.

Looking ahead, JayhawkSlant has reported that Foster will visit the KU football team as he now looks for a potential transfer destination with two years left on his contract.

In addition to being No. 5 and No. 6, respectively, on A&M's all-time shot put rankings, he's also a pretty good football player, even if his career has been hampered by injuries.

Foster, who stands at 6-foot-1 and 330 pounds and has been nicknamed “The Mountain,” was a four-star prospect who was considered one of the best interior linemen in the country out of high school. He quickly made good on that promise as a freshman at the highest level of college football even after missing the spring, starting all 12 games with a solid Pro Football Focus grade of 69.2 and being ranked by The Athletic and the club named to freshman All-America teams. Football Writers Association of America.

From that point on, his career at College Station took a turn. In his second season, he battled illness before suffering a season-ending torn ACL.

He was able to qualify for football for a year by redshirting and returned to track the following winter.

Foster then took over the starting center spot again as a redshirt sophomore, but scored significantly worse at 60.1 – still about even with KU's starter from last year, Mike Novitsky.

Novitsky's graduation left the Jayhawks with a hole in the middle of their offensive line. They grabbed Tiffin transfer center Shane Bumgardner in the winter portal, although he didn't immediately claim the starting role in his first months in Lawrence, leaving guard Michael Ford Jr. an opportunity remained to take up that position. Ford had previous experience hitting the ball, but told the Journal-World in the spring that he brought a different mentality to the position this year.

“I feel like I take it more personally for the success of the O-line because we don't have someone like Novitsky here anymore,” he said. “So I'm taking the O-line game very personally this year.”

Acquiring Foster would help pick up the slack left by Bumgardner's transition, while also giving Ford the opportunity to remain at his natural guard position – which would then become one of KU's deeper positions with multiple backup options upon winter transfer Darrell Simmons Jr., spring transfer Amir Herring and longtime backup Nolan Gorczyca. On the other hand, it could reduce Bumgardner's role to almost zero, as it's not yet clear whether he would be able to cross-train on other offensive lines.

But it would help KU upgrade at a position where it needs to — and eliminate the need to address that position next season. Foster clearly learned quickly enough to start for an SEC team as a true freshman and could potentially make a similar move for KU in the summer if he ultimately decides to come to Lawrence.

Foster visited USC in early May, 247Sports reports.

An open question is what role KU track employees could play in this recruitment process. It's not the No. 2 program in the country like A&M, but if Foster wants to continue pitching as he has during his tenure at A&M, Stanley Redwine and company do have a history of success in that area. (And the Jayhawks are ranked No. 20 nationally in the same poll.) Sheldon Battle (2006), Mason Finley (2010) and Nicolai Ceban (2017) have won indoor conference titles in the men's shot put since Redwine took over at KU in 2001 . , and Finley matched that feat twice on the indoor side. They all earned All-American honors at the event.

KU's throwing coach, Doug Reynolds, is only in his second season at the school, but Reynolds himself was a national shot put champion at the junior college level and has coached four individual NCAA title winners over the course of his career.

Former Jayhawk Patrick Larrison, who graduated in 2023, was a recent success story in the men's shot put at KU and had a very similar shot put personal record to Foster's (19.90 indoors vs. 19.73 outdoors). Even more recently, during this year's indoor season, Jacob Cookinham set a personal record of 18.21 meters as a freshman to win Kansas State's Steve Miller Invitational.

As The Eagle reported in its article on Foster's departure from Texas A&M, the Aggies had a precedent for dual-sport athletes between football and track and field in the form of running back De'Von Achane, who now plays for the Miami Dolphins.

The KU football team under Lance Leipold initially featured a pair of dual-sport athletes: Trevor Kardell and Devin Neal, who played baseball, but both had signed to compete in two sports before his arrival and ultimately gave up baseball before the spring of 2023. (at that time the Jayhawks also had a new baseball coach in Dan Fitzgerald).

Actively recruiting a player with the kind of commitment Foster has shown in his secondary would be uncharted territory for Leipold at Kansas, but it could also be worth considering the prospects of the KU offensive line for the next two seasons to improve.

article imageAP Photo/Vasha Hunt

Texas A&M offensive lineman Bryce Foster (61) during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Starkville, Miss.

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Written by Hendrik Groenstein

Henry is sports editor at Lawrence Journal-World and KUsports.com, and serves as KU beat writer while managing daily sports coverage. He previously worked as a sports reporter at The Bakersfield Californian and is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis (BA, Linguistics) and Arizona State University (MA, Sports Journalism). Even though he's from Los Angeles, he's often told he doesn't exude a “California vibe,” whatever that means.

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