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Three things to watch for at Kansas football’s spring showcase at Rock Chalk Park

After 15 spring practices, KU football’s spring showcase is nearly here.

The Jayhawks’ spring showcase is set for Friday at 7 p.m. at Rock Chalk Park.

The event will mark the end of KU football’s spring practice slate. It is open to everyone, and admission is free — no ticket required.

Here’s what Kansas coach Lance Leipold hopes to see at the showcase.

“You want it to be sharp,” he said. “I thought the last (scrimmage) we turned the ball (over) a little more than we wanted to. ... Last week, we were a lot sloppier in penalties, so I want it to be cleaner. I want to see us tackle well. I want to see us execute in such a way on both sides of the ball that you feel good.

“I want us to see us take another step — get in front of people. Sometimes it’ll be the first time some of them have been in front of a crowd. ... They’ll see what they can do under pressure. Most importantly, I want to see us come out of it healthy.”

Here are three things to watch for in KU’s spring showcase.

1. KU’s quarterbacks (and their health)

All eyes are on star quarterback Jalon Daniels. He missed most of last season with a back injury but has steadily done more as spring has progressed.

Daniels took part in throwing drills in a recent practice and appeared close to full health.

After Daniels, KU’s likely backup Cole Ballard has received rave reviews from the coaching staff. So how he looks is important, especially given Daniels’ injury history.

“I think he’s had an outstanding offseason,” Leipold said in late March. “He’s working harder than ever; he’s hungry. Today, he had a couple of moments where he was aggressive. I don’t want to call him risky yet, but he’s aggressive. … He’s got that confidence and swagger about him that you love.”

Finally, Kansas freshman Isaiah Marshall — the quarterback of the future, perhaps — has drawn comparisons to Daniels.

“A little bit Jalon-like,” Kansas co-offensive coordinator Jim Zebrowski said. “You’re never going to put that all on him. ... But in terms of that, he’s actually fast. He’s a 10.9 100 kid in high school. So not Jason Bean fast, because that’s really, really fast, but very fast. Jalon has a little bit more twitch – a little more suddenness to him.”

2. KU’s competition on the offensive line

With former offensive line mainstays Dominick Puni and Mike Novitsky departing for the pros, the Jayhawks have two starting spots to fill. Currently, Tiffin transfer Shane Bumgardner and Michael Ford are battling for the center spot.

In addition, the left tackle spot is a competition between Logan Brown, Calvin Clements (who’s currently out for spring) and veteran Nolan Gorczyca.

“There’s so much competition in so many spots in so many places,” KU O-line coach Daryl Agpalsa said. “I think it’s bringing out the best in all of them and I think they are excited about that challenge. I think we can take another step before spring ends.”

At the spring showcase, it’ll be worth continuing to monitor how each blocker looks and works with both the other O-line members and the quarterbacks.

3. How are the early enrollees progressing?

Kansas has six early enrollees from the freshman class: Marshall, running back Harry Stewart, safety Damani Maxson, cornerback Jalen Todd, running back Red Martel and defensive end Dakyus Brinkley.

Brinkley is the only one not participating this spring, as he’s rehabbing his knee.

The freshmen who made it to campus early will carry a significant advantage over others who join the roster in the summer and fall. They’ll be a step ahead with the playbook and familiarizing themselves with players and coaches.

Here’s what Leipold had to say about the group.

“It’s been exciting to watch them continue to grow and get better,” Leipold said. “I think 10 days into (fall) camp is where you are really going to see the difference between them and the summer arrivals because of what they’ve learned and the confidence of what they’ve had to go through.

“Marshall is so poised in what he does. Harry Stewart continues to show up every day, and Dak Brinkley continues to get better. Jalen Todd really started fast — he’s limited, and he’s not cleared for tackle situations right now … but we are excited about his future as well.”