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Why 4th is the perfect place for Kansas in the Big 12 preseason poll

Jayhawks receive 5 first-place votes & land 2 players on all-Big 12 preseason team

2 min read
Kansas safety OJ Burroughs takes the field during the Jayhawks' home win over Oklahoma during the 2023 season. [Chance Parker photo]

The preseason all-Big 12 teams and rankings were released on Tuesday and things really could not have gone much better for Kansas football.

No, the Jayhawks didn’t have the most players on the squad. That distinction belonged to Oklahoma State with six – 4 on offense and 2 more on defense.

And, no, KU was not picked to finish first. That was Utah.

The Jayhawks were picked to finish 4th, out of 16 this time, remember? And that’s about the best spot I could imagine for them.

It would’ve been a bigger story if KU had been picked to win the conference. For what it’s worth, five voters did actually put Kansas in the top spot. Consider that the latest entry in the book title 'Oh, how far we've come.'

For the Jayhawks themselves, landing in the No. 4 spot was just about perfect. High enough to feel like you’re a contender and that people around the league truly respect where your program currently sits. And low enough to give you the chance to carry a little chip on your shoulder into the 2024 season.

“We’ll show you how wrong you were to put us that low.” Or, “We’ll let our play on the field speak for us and check back at the end of the year.”

That kind of thing.

Being picked behind your in-state rival (K-State at No. 2) and a Big 12 newbie in Utah certainly doesn’t hurt the chip factor either.

And then there’s the individual side of the coin, where KU running back Devin Neal & quarterback Jalon Daniels were both left off of the preseason all-Big 12 squad.

Neither was an awful snub. There are some really talented backs in the Big 12, and Daniels, who was the preseason player of the year in 2023, has been hurt and probably needs to show people he can stay healthy before they start heaping this kind of praise on him again.

Fair enough.

Beyond that, the two KU players who were named to the preseason all-Big 12 squad received some pretty high praise, as defensive backs Cobee Bryant & Mello Dotson took the only two spots reserved for cornerbacks.

That’s big time, but you can take it to the bank that both Neal & Daniels — and likely one or two others — are going to take note of this and remember it while using it to fuel them just a little more this season.

That’s a great thing for Lance Leipold and the rest of the team. Especially because it’s derived from something that doesn’t actually have that much meaning to begin with.

After all, it’s the all-Big 12 teams and final standings in December that truly matter.

These guys have been around long enough to know that. And they’ll handle it like professionals and use it in the proper fashion.

Not too much talk. All about action.

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