LAWRENCE — The Kansas defense may be struggling at a historical rate, but the Jayhawks showed in their last game against Oklahoma that there could very well be hope in their reinforcements.
KU played three freshmen in a 47-17 loss to the Sooners, removing the redshirt tag from linebacker Collin Garrett, who joined defensive end Michael Reynolds and safety Victor Simmons as first-year Jayhawks who will now be expected to make an impact.
Simmons, who had been playing on special teams until last week, made his presence felt in the second quarter when he forced and recovered a fumble at the Oklahoma 25-yard line.
"It felt great," said Simmons, an Olathe North graduate. "I got a lot of calls from hometown friends that are OU fans and KU fans. It made me feel good about myself."
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Garrett didn't come away with a huge play like Simmons, but the experience was special for him and his family back in Beaumont, Texas.
"My mama always wanted to see me play on TV," Garrett said. "It was exciting for her and for me. I think for all of us, being able to come in from high school to such a big level of football is exciting."
KU defensive coordinator Vic Shealy was pleased by what he saw from the freshmen.
"The biggest thing is we saw guys that athletically looked as fast as the game was being played," Shealy said. "And OU is so fast. But I felt like our kids played fast and were able to match some tempo."
Now KU's youngsters will get to play in their first rivalry game against Kansas State.
"They told me they like to run the ball and to buckle up my chinstrap and be ready," Garrett said.