Five faces to watch this fall

For the better part of the last four years, the Kansas University football team knew exactly who would provide the big stop on defense in the clutch. The answer usually was Kevin Kane, Banks Floodman or Nick Reid.When the KU volleyball team needed a timely block or kill, it was four-time All-Big 12 first-teamer Josi Lima who provided the answer.If the Kansas soccer team needed a goal ... or two ... or three ... All-America forward Caroline Smith wouldn't shy away from unleashing shots on goal.All of those big names provided memorable moments for KU fans during the past four years, and all helped the Jayhawks experience postseason success. The football team's linebacker trio took the squad to two bowl games in the last three years. Lima led the volleyball team to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances - the only ones in school history. Smith set every offensive record in the KU books and helped the soccer team advance to the NCAA Tournament two times, including a 2003 trip to the Sweet 16.With those stars gone now, the Jayhawks will look to new players to step up and carry the load.If the KU football, volleyball and soccer teams are going to make it to the postseason this year, here are five athletes who will have plenty to do with it.1. Kerry Meier - The redshirt freshman essentially was annointed as the KU football savior when he signed with the Jayhawks as a senior at Pittsburg High. After sitting out last year, Meier takes over the starting quarterback duties this fall. Considering the Jayhawks have been to two bowl games in the past three seasons, expectations on Meier are perhaps unrealistically high for a guy who has yet to take a snap in a college football game. Regardless, the Jayhawks will go as far as Meier's right arm can lead them.2. Mike Rivera - He's just a sophomore, but Rivera already has been selected to be a team captain. That tells you all you need to know about what his coaches and teammates expect from him.3. Savannah Noyes - It wasn't supposed to be Noyes' job to replace Lima at middle blocker in the KU starting lineup. That duty was supposed to go to junior transfer Natalie Uhart, a Lansing native and two-time Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year. Uhart suffered a season-ending knee injury during the squad's alumni scrimmage, however, so now Noyes will be asked to step up. At 6-foot-3, she has the size to be dangerous. Her successful basketball and track background shows she has the necessary athleticism to do it.4. Jenny Murtaugh - Murtaugh may have been the best player in Kansas' 2005 soccer freshman class to get no attention. The talented bunch included Big 12 All-Newcomer Team selections Jessica Bush and Missy Geha, but it seemed Murtaugh's contributions went largely unnoticed. That's too bad considering Murtaugh was one of six KU players to start every game in 2005. She also trailed only defender Afton Sauer for most minutes played. In fact, Murtaugh played all but 19 minutes the entire year as a true freshman. With All-America defender Holly Gault moving to offense this season, Murtaugh's play in the back will be pivotal to a Kansas team that will rely on its defense more than it has in the last four years.5. Jessica Kilpatrick - This could be the wild card for the Kansas soccer team. As one of just four seniors on KU's roster - a roster that includes nine newcomers - it will be important for Kilpatrick to emerge as a leader. That's not an easy task for a player who spent her first two years with the team, then left soccer completely as a junior. Kilpatrick will have to lead by example, but she'll also have to lead by scoring goals. KU lost its all-time leading scorer, and Kilpatrick could help fill that void. She was one of the Jayhawks' top threats as a freshman, and she scored four postseason goals that year.

Comments

jayhawker1999 15 years, 10 months ago

What sport does murtaugh play. Volleyball or soccer?

cwrist 15 years, 10 months ago

soccer. my bad. I fixed it now so it's clear.

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