LAWRENCE — Kansas offensive line coach Tim Grunhard laid out the framework Friday for the Jayhawks’ offensive line in 2012.
As KU took the field for the second practice of fall camp, Grunhard confirmed that senior left tackle Tanner Hawkinson, senior left guard Duane Zlatnik and senior center Trevor Marrongelli were all locked in at their respective spots.
That leaves, for now, three players to battle for the remaining two spots on the right side. Junior Gavin Howard was listed as the starting right guard when KU coach Charlie Weis unveiled the depth chart on Wednesday. The right tackle spot was listed as a competition between junior Riley Spencer and junior-college transfer Aslam Sterling, who arrived on campus on Thursday.
“It’s a great healthy battle between those three,” said Grunhard, a former Chiefs lineman who left his post as coach at Bishop Miege to join Weis at Kansas.
Sterling, who checks in at 6 feet 5 and 360 pounds, has drawn high marks for his size and athletic ability — he showed off those soft feet during footwork drills on Friday — but he also missed out on spring ball and an entire summer of conditioning work.
When asked whether Sterling’s size would help him excel at run-blocking, Grunhard answered, “I think with that body, (he can do) whatever he wants to do.
“He’s a big powerful guy. We watched him on the film, boy he comes off with some power. But he also has good feet for a big guy.”
Recruiting KC — KU coach Charlie Weis has picked defensive backs coach Clint Bowen, a Lawrence native, and Grunhard as the lead recruiters in Kansas and the Kansas City area.
“Recruiting is a lot tougher than I thought it would be,” Grunhard said. “It’s tough when there’s a lot of buzz about some other programs around. But we’re excited about having some of the guys that we have coming.”
For now, the Jayhawks have three KC-area commitments for 2013 — Bishop Miege quarterback Montell Cozart, Shawnee Mission East quarterback Jordan Darling and Basehor-Linwood tight end Ben Johnson. Darling attended practice on Friday.
Running game — It’s early, of course, but Grunhard is optimistic that KU will succeed in the running game. The biggest reason: He believes sophomore Tony Pierson, sophomore Brandon Bourbon, junior James Sims and junior-college transfer Taylor Cox are all solid options in the backfield.
“I told the (offensive line), just get in the way,” Grunhard said. “Let these guys have an opportunity to run with the football.”