Deshaun Sands says he has heard about being a small running back ever since he can remember. But he just brushes that talk off to the side.
Kansas offensive coordinator Chuck Long said the ideal situation would be to have a featured back that can carry the ball 20-25 times a game. When you look at the Jayhawks roster there are candidates that posses the traits most running backs in the Big 12 have. But Sands believes he can fill that role.
"I feel I can handle it," Sands said. "Through practice we are equal and get a lot of the same carries. Carrying it 20-25 times a game wouldn't be a problem for me."
History is on Sands side. As a high school senior in highly competitive Broward County he toted the ball 235 times. That number is among the top 10 most carries by a running back in county history.
Another trend that runs in the family is durability, which Sands could get from his father Tony. The older Sands is the second leading rusher in the history of Kansas football and holds the record for most rushing yards for a game.
The father and son share a similar body style. Tony was listed close to the same size during his playing days at Kansas. Deshaun stays in touch with him often.
"He just tells me to keep working hard every day," Deshaun said. "He said play like your job is on the line every day. No matter what you do you have to try and do something better than the day before. He always tells me if you mess up you have to be able to move on to the next play."
When the last depth chart was released Sands was listed as the second team running back. He shared the position with Rell Lewis, who will miss the season due to a knee injury. Sands doesn't view his size as a negative and says it can be an advantage.
"I bring shiftiness and quickness, which I think helps me find the holes quicker," Sands said. "Being smaller I can hide behind the line and it makes it easier to get through the holes and find space to run through. That's not easy for the big guys to do this."
Last season Sands was awarded the Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year. He said he is just looking to earn his shot and prove he can handle the duties the coaches are looking for.
"I'm just going to go out there every day and work hard," he said. "You have to do like coach Gill says and that's believe. If you believe in yourself you can get it done."
Other news and notes:
- Long has mentioned if they don't find the workhorse at running back they will have to do it by committee. Sands says that can work with the running backs on the roster.
"We can come together and get the job done. I think our group can do anything," Sands said. "There have been others teams that use different back for certain things and I think we can do the same."
- Sands already said he's a smaller back that can find the holes. We asked him to break down the other backs getting reps in practice.
"Angus Quigley is a big power back and can run you over," Sands said. "The freshmen Brandon Bourbon and James Sims are all coming along. They are learning the playbook and getting better. They are going to be good players. We all have something that we can bring to the table."