Wide Receivers

In 2002 the wide receivers for the Kansas Jayhawks struggled with hands of stone. In 2003 the wide receiving corps made dramatic strides in becoming one of the best units in college football, which is good news going into 2004.

All three wide receivers topped 500 yards last season while reeling in a combined 18 touchdowns. The good news for the Jayhawks is that all three wide receivers return for the 2004 season.

Sophomore Charles Gordon will most likely see playing time at wide receiver, cornerback, and special teams. Last year Gordon was most effective at the wide receiver position where he earned First-team Freshman All-American honors by the Sporting News. He set several freshman records and proved to be the most electrifying offensive threat on the field.

Head Coach Mark Mangino would like Gordon to play one position on a more consistent basis instead of stretching him on both offense and defense.

"He is a talented guy, he is just one of those kids that, you know has it," Mangino said. "He can do a lot of things but we have to be smart how we handle him."

Gordon is open to playing both ways and will do anything to help the team earn victories.

"Playing both ways is exciting but I just want to win and I will do whatever it takes for the team," Gordon said.

With Gordon most likely playing cornerback, the Jayhawks will rely on junior Mark Simmons and senior Brandon Rideau. Simmons was the most productive receiver for the Jayhawks last season by averaging 19 yards a catch along with 7 touchdowns. The junior wide out is not taking last season for granted and is working hard to improve in every facet.

"We have to get better, if we stay the same that means we didn't do our job," Simmons said. "You either have to get better or worse and if you get worse than that means you are going backwards in the program. We are looking to make big strides."

Rideau snagged 51 receptions last season and posses a long 6'4" frame that can create match-up problems for the opposing defense. Beyond working on his speed, agility, and strength Rideau headed into the off-season with the hopes of improving his blocking skills.

"We wanted to work on our blocking because they said we were not a physical wide receiving corps, we want to work against that," Rideau said.

Adding to an already talented group of wide receivers is junior Greg Heaggans and sophomore Jonathan Lamb who is making the position change from safety to wide receiver. Heaggans was successful as a kick returner for the Jayhawks and feels he can make some contributions on offense.

"As it stands right now I am second behind Brandon (Rideau)," Heaggans said. "I'm just out there trying to fill a spot when I'm needed. Still I look to just go out and make plays on special teams. As far as being a wide receiver I am just going out and playing hard and seeing what happens."

Lamb will help the Jayhawks form a deep wide receiving unit and his teammates have the up most confidence he will be able to become a solid wide receiver.

"It's a tough transition because you have the defensive mentality and then to move to offense is tough but he has done great," Simmons said. "He has nice hands and I can see that he played wide out in high school."

The talented group of wide receivers will try to repeat and improve on an impressive 2003 season. However, the squad will face some of the best defensive backs in the nation when they take on Oklahoma and Texas. After the breakout season, these wide receivers are ready to take on the best to become the best.