When Mike Ragone announced he would transfer to Kansas in the spring following his graduation from Notre Dame - to spend his final year of eligibility as a Jayhawk - it didn’t create the same waves as when his fellow Fighting Irish Dayne Crist did the same a couple of months before.
That doesn’t mean Ragone isn’t a major addition in his own right, however. With four-year starter Tim Biere graduated and gone, Head Coach Charlie Weis was left with little in the way of experience and a handful of unknowns with which to work.
Ragone gave him an instant starter. He may not be the athlete he was as a prep star out of New Jersey, when he regularly ran away from opposing defenses despite his says, after suffering multiple knee injuries, but he’s still got plenty of talent. And his abilities as a blocker in the run game - for which he has been praised multiple times by Weis and tight ends coach Jeff Blasko - could prove to be even more impactful. The right side of the line has yet to solidify itself, with a handful of candidates contending for playing time, and lining up his 6-foot-4, 255-pound frame as an additional edge blocker will provide an instant boost.
The JUCO ranks bore fruit for the Jayhawks as well in the 2012 signing class, in the form of Charles Brooks. At 6-foot-6 and 240-pounds, Brooks is a phenomenally gifted athlete with outstanding hands. Though Blasko noted he was still uncomfortable playing with his hand on the ground during training camp, his abilities in the passing game are such that he gives Crist essentially a massive receiver lined up on the inside.
The rest of the position group has its strengths as well. Jimmay Mundine is cut from a more well-rounded mold, and though he isn’t quite as tall as his counterparts he’s potentially dynamic for a tight end in the open field and packs enough punch to make a difference as a blocker as well.
Trent Smiley is another big body whose strength lies in what he brings to the table for the running game, and true freshman Jordan Shelley-Smith has that combo of height and athleticism that makes it tantalizing to imagine the possibilities with him during the future.
One day until the Week One depth chart is released. Five days until the first game. Football is almost here.