Once all the letters of intent are signed, sealed and delivered (er, faxed), KU football beat writer Ryan Wood will join KUSports.com for a live chat Thursday at 3:30 p.m. He'll answer your questions on the incoming class and other offseason KU football news with spring ball rapidly approaching.
This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.
Hello everyone and welcome to today live chat session here on KUSports.com. I'm Ryan Greene, and I'll be moderating today's chat with the wizard himself, Journal-World KU football beat writer Ryan Wood. In hte spirit of the college football season, he's a young man with tremendous athletic potential and...wait for it...wait for it...upside. Ryan, thanks for joining us today to answer some KU football questions our readers have for you. Season never stops, huh?
Never ends. The season goes into January, then a couple of players go pro. Then a couple of coaches leave. Then a couple of coaches are hired. Then a couple dozen recruits come in. Then a couple of spring practices are conducted. You get the picture.
Well yeah, spring ball is right around the corner. About five weeks away. Crazy. That said, there's plenty to get to today, so lets get started...
Of the players who signed, which three have the best chance of getting substantial playing time in 2008?
Number one has got to be Jocques Crawford, the running back out of Cisco Junior College in Texas. I would guess that he fills right in to McAnderson's role in terms of number of carries, etc. No. 2 would be Nathan D'Cunha, a horse of an offensive lineman who comes from Australia, making his accent a great chick magnet in Lawrence. No. 3 will be one of the high school tight ends, be it Tanner Hawkinson, Time Biere or Nick Plato. With Derek Fine graduating, one of them will have to step right in.
Any chance of Bradley Dedeaux, the lone returning tight end, fending them off?
Absolutely. Though it's not much, Dedeaux has something the other three don't: experience. I imagine he'll be right in the thick of things, but a tight end in this offense has to be versatile and able to play on the line and split out. It should be a great race to fill up that two-deep in the spring and summer.
It appears that the 22 limit on scholarships should not present a problem as there are only around 16 seniors, plus the two Juniors leaving for the NFL early, on the current roster? It appears that KU will actually pick up players from a numbers perspective?
Mangino has never had all 85 scholarships filled in his entire time here, so the numbers aren't so cut and dried. But you're right. One thing that's easy to forget about this 12-1 team is that it was relatively young and a lot of players are returning. So in this class, quantity wasn't needed as bad as quality. And this class definitely accomplished that.
I'm sure this question will be asked in several different ways, but in your opinion, Ryan, which one of the incoming players has the biggest upside? Who will be the next project that Mangino, et al. takes under his wing to build into an NFL-caliber player (a la Talib, McClinton, etc.)?
A lot of these guys have great upside: Greg Brown, Daymond Patterson, Duane Zlatnik, Darius Parish come to mind. Sean Ransburg could be great if he finds a position he thrives in. As for the sleeper, our buddies at Rivals.com are optimistic about Josh Richardson out of Dublin, Ohio. He certainly has the genes: his brother currently plays for the Oakland Raiders. Keep him in mind down the road.
While Mangio is steadily improving the quality of his recruiting classes, when should we expect to start landing some 5-star recruits? Is it reasonalbe to expect some next year given the success of the 2007 season and assumed similar performance on the field in 08?
It's possible that Kansas could start succeeding with more 4-star and maybe even a 5-star talent or two next year. But Mangino and his staff are staying grounded despite such a great season. It's important to remember what got Kansas this far: 2- and 3-star guys who are great teammates, intelligent football players, coachable personalities and have a little athleticism to fall back on. The KU coaches will never turn their backs on those kind of players, no matter how many stars the experts tag them with.
Who do you anticipate will be kicking field goals for KU next season? Will the new punting recruit Alonso Rojas take the job, or will it be someone else?
From what I've heard, kicking duties will be a competition between freshman Stephen Hoge and Air Force transfer Jacob Branstetter. Obviously, consistency will be key and distance will be a bonus. Scott Webb wasn't perfect, but he'll be missed until one of these guys steps up. I imagine Alonso Rojas will be lined up to be KU's starting punter when Florida International comes to town.
How much will the loss of Bill Young affect the team going forward?
Certainly someone with so much experience who was popular among the players will be missed. But Clint Bowen has been groomed for the job for 2-3 years now, and I think the defense will be in good hands. One other thing to remember about Young is that he recruited the state of Oklahoma very well and some great players have come out of that state (Marcus Henry, James Holt, Derek Fine, Chris Harris, Russell Brorsen). Someone with not so many ties is going to be shifted to recruit Oklahoma so we'll see how they adjust.
Has the recent success of the football team changed how KU approaches scheduling beyond 2008?
Ranger35 with back-to-back queries. Just wanted to point that out.
As for the question, that will be interesting to see down the road. In the past, Ku always has said that the softer nonconference schedules were good for where the program is at. But the program is somewhere else now. Still, Mangino was making no apologies about it before the Orange Bowl, questioning what the problem was with a soft nonconference schedule if it helped Kansas go 12-1. They'll either amp up the competition a little bit, or they'll determine that the 2007 strategy worked and keep that up. We'll see.
What position are the Jayhawks looking to fill most, late, and who are their top prospects to fill it?
I assume you mean heading into the 2008 season. Right now, the positions needing new players include tight end, both offensive tackles, one defensive tackle and one wide receiver slot (and for the love of God, they need a punt returner bad). Marcus Henry's replacement will be an interesting competition featuring Johnathan Wilson, Rod Harris and possibly Marcus Herford. That's why spring ball is so important for those guys fighting for a vacant starting spot. It's 15 chances to become the cock of the walk.
I have not seen any stories reporting on the ability to Redshirt players from this year's Freshmen class? Was KU successful in redshirting the players they wanted?
Yeah, several of last year's freshman red-shirted, including a few guys with great upside (Free State High's Ryan Murphy comes to mind). But Kansas actually played more true freshmen last year than usual -- Dezmon Briscoe, Jake Laptad, Chris Harris, Carmon Boyd-Anderson, Johnathan Wilson, Drew Dudley, Justin Springer all come to mind. But still, results are hard to argue with: Most of those guys helped Kansas go 12-1. Remember, Mangino had some pressure on him at the start of the season to win, so 2007 was much more important than 2011 was.
Ryan, Im curious as to what our defensive secondary is going to look like next year. Is Isiah Barfield the real deal?
I've heard a lot of good things about Isiah Barfield's athletic ability, but he might have to wait in line. KU's secondary looks good heading into next year, even without Aqib Talib. Three safeties with a ton of experience - Stuckey, Resby and Thornton - all return, as well as Chris Harris and Kendrick Harper at cornerback. I really like Stuckey and Thornton, and obviously Harris was outstanding considering he was three months removed from his senior prom at the start of last year. The secondary cupboard definitely is not bare heading into '08.
What postion are we the weakest at coming into this next year?
From an experience standpoint, the offensive tackles and the tight end won't have very much, if any. From an athletic standpoint, you still have to consider the defensive ends a weak spot. Brorsen and Larson were decent players last year, but if you think back to 2005 and the athleticism of Charlton Keith, you realize KU just doesn't have that right now. I wonder if Jake Laptad and Max Onyegbule could possibly make a push at the starting job.
OK, final question. Seems like a good way to go out...
with crawford @ rb, i don't see any way this team doesnt win the national championship. thoughts?
You convinced me...
Well, Ryan, thanks for the insight...especially on that last one, buddy. Any final words for the folks on the other end of the screen?
Spring football is only 5 weeks away. I heard there's a basketball team at KU to keep you interested in the mean time. Enjoy the spring, if it ever gets here.
Thanks, Ryan. And thank you to our readers for submitting your questions today. We'll talk to you next time for another KUSports.com chat session.