After missing the last two games with what Kansas football coach Lance Leipold called “a lower extremity” injury, KU running back Ky Thomas is on track to play again this weekend.
KU Offensive Coordinator Andy Kotelnicki said Wednesday that he expected to have Thomas available when the 19th-ranked Jayhawks take the field for their 11 a.m. College Gameday clash with No. 17 TCU on Saturday.
Asked Wednesday if he thought Thomas would be “ready to go” for Saturday, Kotelnicki said simply, “I do. Yep. Yep. He’s been out there. He’s had a couple really good practices and it’s good to see him back out there running around.”
The former four-star back who transferred to Kansas from Minnesota in the offseason appeared in KU’s first three games but logged just 11 carries total in those outings. He carried the ball a season-high seven times for 19 yards in the season-opening win over Tennessee Tech and recorded two carries for four yards in a win at West Virginia and two for six yards in the win at Houston.
His impending return comes at a good time for the Kansas offense, which will be without running back Daniel Hishaw Jr. for an extended period of time. Hishaw was injured in KU’s win over Iowa State last weekend and his absence will test KU’s running back depth that was touted throughout the preseason.
“It really stinks for Daniel, obviously,” Kotelnicki said Wednesday. “But regardless of however a player’s unavailable, we have to have the next-man-up mentality. We feel like we’ll be OK. We do. I’m excited for what that room will continue to do.”
Hishaw and sophomore Devin Neal have been KU’s two top runners throughout the first five games of the season. Quarterback Jalon Daniels also has been a big part of KU’s rushing attack, but Hishaw’s blend of power running and run blocking has been huge for the Kansas offense.
With that out of the lineup, others will be asked to step up in those areas, and Kotelnicki said Wednesday he expected that Neal and Thomas, along with Sevion Morrison and Torry Locklin, were capable of doing just that.
“It’s not going to change how we go about our business and it’s not going to change my mind at all,” he said when asked about Hishaw being out.
Thomas, a redshirt sophomore from Topeka, came to KU in the offseason after rushing for 826 yards and six touchdowns on 166 carries during his redshirt freshman season at Minnesota in 2021.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound tailback led the Gophers in carries and rushing yards and tied for the team lead in rushing touchdowns.