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Running backs, special teams & volleyball power at the net

Jayhawks' stellar performances shine across football and volleyball; from record-breaking runs to volleyball resilience.

3 min read

Every week we take a look back at the performances by KU athletes that were above and beyond.

From football to volleyball, cross-country, and all across the athletic department, we'll break down the best of the best in the world of Kansas athletics.

Performance #1: Kansas Football Run Game

Background: The Kansas Jayhawks hosted the UCF Knights on Saturday with the Jayhawks coming off a 40-14 loss to the No. 3-ranked Texas Longhorns the week prior. Facing its third-straight Big 12 opponent and its second-straight without junior starting quarterback Jalon Daniels, Kansas was in need of a bounce-back game in front of its home crowd. 

What Happened: The Jayhawks' lead backs, junior running back Devin Neal and redshirt-sophomore running back Daniel Hishaw Jr., put up explosive numbers against the Knight’s defense. The two combined for 31 carries on Saturday totaling 288 yards on the ground. Kansas didn’t stop there, with super-senior running back Dylan McDuffie adding 13 carries with 91 yards to the 51-22 winning effort. The three combined for 379 yards rushing with five trips to the endzone, giving Kansas its fifth win in six games. 

Why it’s so Great: The Jayhawks’ win over UCF marked the third time that Kansas has dropped 50+ points on a Big 12 opponent under head coach Lance Leipold. Kansas had only scored 50+ points against Big 12 opponents four times in the previous 24 years. The win also gave the Jayhawks their second-straight 5-1 start to the regular season. 

Performance #2: Trevor Wilson, Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week

Background: After Kansas’ Hishaw Jr. drove in a three-yard rush touchdown to give the Jayhawks a commanding 17-0 lead over UCF on Saturday, the Knights retained the ball at their own 25-yard line. Redshirt senior running back RJ Harvey got the drive started for UCF with an 18-yard rush, but the Knights would follow with a three-and-out, forcing a punt. 

What Happened: Redshirt junior wide receiver Trevor Wilson stepped back to receive the punt with 3:26 remaining in the first half. After fair catching the previous three punts, Wilson made the decision to return the kick. "Just looking up at the ball, the flight of the ball, and seeing a lot of green grass to my right," Wilson said. "I know I had a UCF guy running at me. I know I had a blocker. So just putting my trust in my teammates and catching that ball and making it happen." Wilson took the punt return all the way to the end zone for an 82-yard return touchdown, giving Kansas the 24-0 lead.

Why it’s so Great: Wilson’s punt return gave him a score in his second straight week. The 82-yard return was the fifth-longest in  Kansas history and the first special teams touchdown since Cobee Bryant returned a blocked field goal attempt last year against Tennessee Tech. Wilson became the first Jayhawk to record a punt return touchdown since 2014 when Nick Harwell returned a punt against West Virginia. His touchdown also earned him Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

Performance #3: Reagan Cooper

Background: No. 17-ranked Kansas volleyball went on the road to battle with the reigning national champion, No. 8-ranked Texas Longhorns for two matches on Thursday and Friday. The Jayhawks came into the two-match series with three straight match wins, losing just two sets in three matches. The Longhorns sported a four-match, most recently defeating the No. 9-ranked BYU Cougars in just eight sets. 

What Happened: The Longhorns showed their dominance on Thursday, defeating Kansas in four sets. Friday’s match was no different, with Texas sweeping the match 3-0, holding Kansas to under 20 points in each set. Despite the two-straight losses, graduate outside hitter Reagan Cooper put on an offensive showcase for the Jayhawks. Cooper totaled 25 kills in seven sets, adding in three block assists to her stat line. Cooper racked up the second-most kills in Thursday’s match with 17 and led Kansas in kills. 

Why it’s so Great: Even though Kansas dropped both matches to the reigning champs, the Jayhawks showed that they’re ready for whatever competition comes their way. Cooper leads the Jayhawks with 189 kills on the season so far and has shown to be a leader on a ranked Kansas volleyball squad. The Jayhawks still rank No. 16 in the country with a bout against Big 12 rival Oklahoma in Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena, where Kansas looks to pick up its 13th victory of the season. 

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