Quarterback Todd Reesing’s prolific career in Lawrence has been one of the primary contributors to turning around Kansas’ program.
The only other school that offered him a scholarship, meanwhile, is still trying to climb out of obscurity.
Reesing and the 22nd-ranked Jayhawks will try to continue their hot start Saturday in the school’s first-ever meeting with Duke, which also wooed Reesing out of high school but remains as uncertain as ever at quarterback.
As an undersized quarterback coming out of Texas, Reesing had only received offers from Duke and Kansas before he committed to the Jayhawks.
“I had a chance to go up (to Duke) and went to their camp,” Reesing said. “They hadn’t offered me anything, so I went up there and threw and ended up getting an offer after that. It is a school, that obviously academically, was very interesting for me, but after I came here I kind of knew that here is where I wanted to go.”
The Jayhawks (2-0) are certainly happy he came, considering Reesing has thrown for nearly 8,000 yards and 68 touchdowns since the start of 2007, leading the previously struggling program to a 22-6 record and an Orange Bowl victory in that stretch.
Reesing is off to another strong start this season, with Kansas cruising to comfortable wins over Northern Colorado and UTEP. He was 25 for 41 for 260 yards with a touchdown and an interception in last Saturday’s 34-7 win over the Miners, the 18th victory in 20 non-conference games for the Jayhawks.
Senior running back Jake Sharp hurt UTEP with 104 rushing yards and two touchdowns, adding a third score on one of his six receptions as Kansas rolled up 576 total yards. Redshirt freshman Kale Pick rolled up 87 yards on the ground on two carries while freshman Toben Opurum added 62 and his third rushing touchdown in two games.
“The defenses that we have played in the first two games wanted to stop the pass,” Kansas coach Mark Mangino said. “(Our opponents) do not want Todd coming in there and passing for 400-500 yards. So, it is great because if they are going to play us that way, we can run the ball.”
Duke (1-1) has changed coaches since the program’s recruitment of Reesing, but that doesn’t mean he’s failed to impress Duke coach David Cutcliffe.
“They have one of the finest quarterbacks, as a playmaker, that I’ve ever seen,” Cutcliffe said.
The Blue Devils have shown some signs of progress under Cutcliffe, going 4-8 in his first year last season after they were 10-82 from 2000-07.
Their 2009 campaign began with a 24-16 loss to reigning Championship Subdivision national champion Richmond, but they rebounded with a 35-19 victory at Army on Saturday, sparked by a pair of fourth-quarter interception returns for touchdowns by cornerback Leon Wright.
The victory didn’t come without adding some intrigue to Duke’s quarterback situation. Senior Thaddeus Lewis, a four-year starter, was 5 for 16 for 60 yards and a touchdown before being replaced by redshirt freshman Sean Renfree, who went 7 for 8 for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
Cutcliffe said that he had previously planned to give Renfree some playing time, and while Lewis remains Duke’s starter, Renfree should again see some snaps Saturday.
“The circumstances are like a pitcher in baseball. If the pitcher needs relief help, he’s going to get relief help. If he can pitch a complete game, then he’s going to be left in there,” Cutcliffe said. “But you can see now why I’ve been saying all along that regardless of play, I wanted Sean Renfree to play. I should have played him in the first game, and didn’t. I had plans to play him, without a doubt, at Army, and I have plans to play him again this week.”
Duke has dropped 36 straight games to ranked opponents since a 28-25 victory over then-No. 13 Virginia on Nov. 5, 1994.