LAWRENCE – Kevin Short never suited up for Kansas. He never played a snap and never broke up a pass or made a tackle. Unless you are of a certain subset of Kansas football fans, you might have been unaware that Short even existed.
So when Kansas coach Charlie Weis announced on Tuesday that Short, a junior cornerback, was leaving school for personal reasons, perhaps it was difficult to know how to read the news. On the one hand, the Jayhawks lost a former top juco recruit who never made an impact on the field. On the other hand, Kansas was moving on without a defensive back with pro potential — a player many in the program thought could be a front-line cornerback for an emerging defense.
“We worked to try to help him as much as we could,” Weis said Tuesday during his weekly news conference. “But (Monday) morning he came in and sat down with me and wasn’t very comfortable. He said, ‘Coach, I’ve got to go.’”
Weis would not elaborate on Short’s issues, but said he would be returning home to Florissant, Mo. Weis is leaving the door open for a possible return in January. But Short will not be back at Kansas this semester.
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“He’s currently on his way home,” Weis said, “and that’s as much as I can say.”
For Kansas, it’s the latest defection in a juco-laden 2013 recruiting class. Short, a standout from Fort Scott Community College, was a prized member of that class and arrived at KU last fall. A physically gifted cornerback, the 6-foot-2 Short was expected to compete for playing time right away, but ended up redshirting after being deemed academically ineligible by the NCAA.
In a Tuesday statement, both Weis and Short were adamant that his departure was not related to poor academics.
“I am sorry to report that I must withdraw from school for personal reasons,” Short said in a statement. “I want to be clear that I am not leaving due to academics and I am not being dismissed from the team. I am not sure what the future holds, but I am hoping to return to KU.”
It was more disappointing news for Kansas, which will open its season against Southeast Missouri State at 6 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium. The Jayhawks still return starting senior cornerbacks Dexter McDonald and JaCorey Shepherd, and starting safeties Isaiah Johnson and Cassius Sendish. Weis revealed Tuesday that sophomore Tevin Shaw won the competition at the starting nickel back position, while freshman Matthew Boateng has stepped in to replace Short as Shepherd’s primary backup at the right cornerback spot.
“With those additions,” KU defensive coordinator Clint Bowen said, “We have enough players.”
Freshman kicker wins job – Kicker John Duvic led a group of seven first-year freshmen on Kansas’ latest depth chart. Duvic, a native of Glen Ellyn, Ill., was listed as the starting kicker, beating out sophomore Matthew Wyman in a two-man competition.
The wealth of freshmen also includes running back Corey Avery, who will split carries with juco transfer De’Andre Mann, and receivers Derrick Neal and Bobby Hartzog, who could see time on special teams.
Worth noting – Among Tuesday’s other depth-chart revelations: Junior college transfer Keyon Haughton won the starting position at center, while transfer receiver Nigel King will begin the season with the second team.… Weis said starting tight end Jimmay Mundine was healthy and ready to play after undergoing a minor knee operation during preseason camp.