The top two running backs on the Kansas depth chart will each miss their senior season after Brandon Bourbon tore his ACL and Taylor Cox tore his Achilles’ tendon in separate incidents.
Jayhawks coach Charlie Weis announced the injuries in a statement Tuesday. He said that both of the players will remain in school and could petition for a sixth year of eligibility.
"I feel bad for both Brandon and Taylor, as they were looking forward to the opportunity to be the replacement for James Sims," Weis said. "I sat down with each of them individually and talked through their options and was happy that they chose to further their education, while attempting to play again next year if things work out."
Bourbon, who tore his knee ligament during a scrimmage on Sunday, was listed first on the most recent depth chart. The 225-pound senior has battled injuries throughout much of his career, running for 422 yards and four touchdowns over parts of three seasons.
Cox, who hurt his tendon in a non-contact drill Monday, spent his first two seasons at College of the Siskiyous in California. He started three times as a junior and ran for 464 yards, but he was forced to take a medical redshirt after appearing in just two games last season.
Both of them were trying to replace Sims, who finished his career with 3,592 yards rushing, the third-most in school history. Sims ran for 1,155 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
The injuries leave junior-college transfer De’Andre Mann and freshman Corey Avery as the top two running backs. Mann piled up more than 1,700 yards rushing last season for California’s Hartnell College, while Avery ran for more than 1,600 yards for Carter High School in Dallas.
"While De’Andre and Corey lack experience on the Division I level, they both have had excellent camps," said Weis, who also could use wide receiver Tony Pierson at running back.
Depth at the position has already been a problem for the Jayhawks. Darrian Miller transferred to Northern Iowa over the summer after a series of off-the-field issues, and highly touted freshman Traevohn Wrench failed to qualify and will spend the season at a junior college.
In an attempt to fill the void, Weis also announced Tuesday that he had made the rare decision to move freshman safety Joe Dineen Jr. to running back. Dineen played quarterback at nearby Lawrence Free State High School, but he still ran for nearly 800 yards his senior season.
"I surveyed our roster and felt Joe was the best answer to help offensive depth while not greatly hindering the defense," Weis said. "He and I met after practice Monday and I gave him the choice. He was happy to move in the best interest of the team."
Weis also announced through a school spokesman that the remainder of fall practices will be closed to reporters. The media had previously been allowed to watch the first 20 minutes of each session on days when players are made available.
The Jayhawks open the season Sept. 6 against Southeast Missouri State.