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May 3, 2005

Star opens door for others in KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - College coaches from all over the nation flocked Monday to Avila University in suburban Kansas City, hoping to catch a glimpse of Grandview, Mo., quarterback Josh Freeman, one of the nation's best signal callers. But if event organizers have their way, Freeman's presence might have opened the door for others to earn a spot on the next level.

While all eyes at Monday's Greater Kansas City Football Combine were on Freeman, the 6-foot-5, 226-pound pro-style quarterback that is a serious candidate for the top pick for the No. 1 spot in the Show Me State, people running the camp hoped that Freeman being there helped a few others get some much needed exposure.

"We're in flyover country in Kansas City," Ron Freeman, Josh's father and event director, said. "This isn't a recruiting destination. We're hoping that we can begin to identify some of the top talent in the area and get them here for all the coaches to see in one spot.

"It really gives the recruiter a huge advantage. This way they can hit them all at once. The can come to one location and see the kids in Kansas City and the area that they're interested in."

While Freeman was likely the only sure fire lock for Division I status at the camp, college coaches from Kansas, Missouri, Kansas State, Colorado State, Wyoming, Michigan State, head coaches Mark Mangino and Gary Pinkel, and others were on hand to eyeball the talent. Also many of the area's top junior college and small-school programs were there also.

Freeman, who did make some news earlier today when he picked up a scholarship offer from Oklahoma to go along with offers from Nebraska, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas and Missouri, was the star of the show.

But coaches might have unearthed a few others players that they would not have seen if it wasn't for the combine.

"I talked to the assistant from Colorado State, and he said he was really interested in kicker Andrew Knight from Raytown (Mo.) South," Ron Freeman said. "He was really excited about him. Del Miller from Kansas State said he liked him, too, and he pointed out that there was no way he was going to see a kicker at Ray South without an event like this.

"They might have all came to see Josh, and many of the kids understood that, but if they worked hard they knew they could catch the eye of coaches. I think quite a few of them did that."

Another name that might have seen his stock increase was Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst athlete Jeremiah Reardon. Reardon did not play as a junior, but is one of the more athletic looking players in Kansas City. The receiver clocked a 4.7-second time in the 40-yard dash on a very rough grass field that didn't produce good times.

Also sophomore-to-be Anthony Lee of Bonner Springs, Kan., opened up eyes of several coaches on hand, as they quickly scribbled down his information. Lee more than passed the eyeball test, and even though he's still a freshman in high school, the fact that he started in both football and basketball in his first year there and earned some all-area team recognition is making him a name to watch in the future.

FREEMAN GETS NEW OFFER
Freeman, a Rivals100 pre-evaluation member that will compete in the NIKE Training Camp this weekend in Ann Arbor, Mich., has said he's been an almost lock for Nebraska, saying in the past few weeks that he was 90-95 percent sure he'd commit to the Huskers. But rumblings the past few days could make this more interesting than expect - at least that's what it seems like.

Freeman was there at the camp working out in Nebraska scarlet and cream shorts and Husker assistant Jay Norvell was there at the camp. All signs continue to point toward Nebraska being the team to beat in this race, but the Kansas coaching staff was there in full force and was watching him attentively when he was testing. Also a new offer that came in on Tuesday could change things, according to his father.

"Oklahoma coach Chris Wilson was through earlier and told coach Jones at Grandview that he wanted to talk to him," Ron Freeman said. "Josh called him this morning at school and coach Wilson was very straight forward with him.

"He told him that they have a young quarterback that will probably be their starter next year, but he said if Josh would be willing to come in and learn the system he could really help their program."

Freeman has told many people that he wanted a shot at coming in and playing early in college, but his father said the offer from the Sooners kind of took his son back.

"You'll have to talk to Josh and see what he has to say about all this," Freeman said.

"But Oklahoma is a championship caliber program, and Josh wants to play for a team that is going to compete for national titles and win a lot of games. I don't know how this affects his decision and you'll have to ask him about that, but this is the first time that I heard him mention that he's willing to come in and not want to start right away."


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