A High for McDougald

Bradley McDougald (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Bradley McDougald had been waiting for this moment since graduating from Scioto High School in Dublin, Ohio.

And there he was playing his first college football game at Memorial Stadium on Saturday night helping his Jayhawks demolish Northern Colorado, 49-3, in their home/season opener in front of a record-setting crowd of 52,530.

"It was great," said Bradley McDougald, the 6-2, 195-pound freshman receiver. "It was everything everybody was talking about. Once the first play was out of the way, the crowd and all the distractions that you think would set in kind of wipes itself away and I was able to just play football. That's when it was fun."

McDougald had a lot fun catching his first two passes of his career in the second quarter. The first came on a seven-yard screen pass from quarterback Todd Reesing. On the next play, McDougald broke loose up the middle for a 42-yard reception down to the Bears' 10-yard-line.  KU scored two plays later on a touchdown pass from Reesing to Sharp.

"It was just a great experience," McDougald said of his first two receptions. "Coach got to me on the sidelines and told me they were probably going to call my number ... just make sure I was ready and let the ball in. One of the things my position coach (David Beaty) stresses is ball security. Just hold onto the ball and not give the defense the edge (with) a turnover."

McDougald's performance drew great praise after the game.

"For his first college game, he played like he's been around for a couple of years," KU coach Mark Mangino said.

Junior nickelback Chris Harris gave the freshman props as well.

"Oh man, I thought he played really well," Harris said. "(We've) been going at it all camp. I've been telling him after (going against) me, you're going to be ready by the time you get to the Big 12. He's improved a lot. I was very happy for him."

But McDougald isn't getting complacent. He knows there's much work to do.

"It just goes back to blocking," he said. "I still want to get better on the little things, coming off the ball, downfield blocking, and different things like that."

McDougald showcased his speed and skills that drew him plenty of buzz around fall camp. But the buzz was nothing compared to the hype surrounding him as a star player at Scioto High School, where McDougald was Big Man On Campus and the talk of the town. With stars like Reesing, Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe, McDougald is just happy to blend in at KU.

"Coming into the season, I just wanted to do everything coaches asked me," McDougald said. "I wanted to be a team-first player. In high school, I had a lot of attention on me. So it's kind of good to come here and not have (as) much attention on me and just play my game and not have to worry about all the things outside of football, do the little things and get better day after day."

McDougald's next chance to get better on game day is this Saturday when KU plays at UTEP. He's ready to go now that his college debut is in the books.

"After (the game), me and Toben (Opurum, freshman running back) were talking as we were headed back to the room (that) it didn't feel like we played in our first college game," McDougald said.

"But we did and we did a pretty good job."

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