By DOUG TUCKER, AP Sports Writer
January 7, 2008
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Cornerback Aqib Talib and left tackle Anthony Collins, the first position players to make All-American at Kansas since 1973, will pass up their senior season and enter the NFL draft.
Talib and Collins were key members of the surprising team that beat Virginia Tech 24-21 in the Orange Bowl and finished 12-1 in the greatest season in school history. Talib returned an interception 60 yards for the game's first touchdown and was named its MVP.
Talib, who also had a 100-yard interception return this year, said he had been projected as a second-round pick in the draft.
Coach Mark Mangino said he had talked with both players and would support whatever decision they made.
"I talked to my family and to coach Mangino and we all decided that if I wanted to get better, it was time to take it to the next level," Talib said in a statement released by the school. "We had an excellent season and this is how I want to go out."
Collins was one of the most dominant offensive linemen in the country this season, and his blocking was a major reason sophomore quarterback Todd Reesing was able to break 20 school records.
Collins' worst game was the Jayhawks' only loss, in the regular-season finale against Missouri, when he played with an ankle injury. He had said he wanted to go out with his close friend Talib.
"We always made a bond that if we came together, which we did, we were going to leave together," Collins said before the Orange Bowl. "Back when we were freshman, we were just talking, and now we're dealing with a lot of money."
Talib was beaten on several touchdown passes but had 66 tackles with 13 passes broken up, and tied for the team lead with five interceptions.
"Aqib has had a great career here at Kansas and he has had a big impact on our program," Mangino said. "I wish him the same kind of success at the next level that he had here in our program. I completely support his decision."
The defections leave the Jayhawks with nine returning starters on defense next year and six on offense. Kansas still will have two quality cornerbacks with starting experience, Kendrick Harper and Chris Harris.
"One of the things we've tried to do here is build up our depth," Mangino said. "I think we will be in good shape."