Kansas took two D-line transfers from Minnesota. They think Jayhawks are ‘hungrier’

·3 min read
Harrison Barden/USA TODAY Sports

Kansas defensive lineman Austin Booker hasn’t been in Lawrence very long, but he likes what he’s seen so far.

The former Minnesota Gopher transferred to Kansas in December and has been through eight spring football practices with the team.

“I feel like it was a real easy adjustment,” Booker said on Thursday. “I don’t give Minnesota too much credit, but I will give them credit for preparing me and definitely teaching me a lot about football and culture. So I feel like it’s a super easy transition and working right (into) it as well.”

Booker has also enjoyed getting to know his teammates.

“I feel like the culture fits me a lot better,” Booker said. “I’m definitely a lot happier here. Then, outside of football, all of the players have been real welcoming. I’ve had a good time so far.”

As for his performance on the football field? He’s made quite an impression.

“Somebody who’s going to help us is Austin Booker,” KU football coach Lance Leipold said on Tuesday. “You really look at his frame when’s he out there. You see a lot of legs (and) long arms. The more he gets comfortable in what we are doing — I like where that’s trending.”

In 2022, Kansas ranked 92nd in sacks (24) and then lost its sacks leader, defensive end Lonnie Phelps Jr., who decided to turn pro after the season. Phelps accounted for seven of those 24 sacks.

Naturally, the Jayhawks desperately needed reinforcements on the defensive line, so KU coaches turned to the transfer portal.

Kansas brought in defensive linemen Booker and Gage Keys from Minnesota, along with Devin Phillips from Colorado State.

According to Booker, each transfer has learned quite a bit from one another.

“We try to help each other,” Booker said. “We try to get into each other’s notebooks to see other perspectives and whatnot. It’s been good learning with each other.”

Phillips shared a similar sentiment.

“We help each other out for the most part,” Phillips said. “We have our own experiences, but we’re here now. We just basically rely back on what we’ve been through and kind of combine those. Try to see where to connect that and basically help form that bond.”

Phillips wasn’t short of praise regarding the two Minnesota defensive lineman transfers.

“I like the way they play football — the tenacity they bring, the twitch and just the way they play with an edge for the most part,” Phillips said. “Those are really good guys who will be good players here as well.”

Overall, Booker feels KU’s defensive line has a much different feel around it than his time at Minnesota.

“I feel like we are a lot more younger, a lot more hungrier than Minnesota’s D-line I was part of,” he said. “It’s a good thing and a bad thing. Development is a good thing, but also having a young guy who’s more hungry than an older guy can definitely help.”

As a redshirt senior, Phillips has noticed the youth and tries to be a mentor.

“I’ve always been the youngest guy in the room until my junior year, but I feel like I am the oldest guy in the room now,” Phillips said. “(I’ve) just been able to lay down the knowledge that I’ve learned over my years and help those young guys.”