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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Staying the course

Big year doesn't change recruiting strategy

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Mangino signs autographs to fund local charity

Jayhawks football coach Mark Mangino has won the Home Depot and Associated Press Coach of the Year awards. Now he's giving back to the community.

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Kansas University football coach Mark Mangino, left, jokes with fans as he signs autographs. He and his wife, Mary Jane Mangino, at his left, made an appearance in December 2007 at Jock's Nitch Sporting Goods.

Aqib Talib and Anthony Collins gave their best pitch earlier this month.

Kansas University's two All-American football players, each lightly recruited coming out of high school, were interviewed on national television during the ESPN College Football Awards Show on Dec. 6. Given the opportunity, Talib spoke eagerly into the camera about what Kansas can provide recruits that the tradition-rich programs can't - namely, early playing time.

You see, recruiting never, ever ends. But at Kansas, it never seems to change, either.

If you need any more proof on how confident KU's football coaches are in their plan, look at how recruiting has evolved since the Jayhawks' magical 2007 season started to take shape.

From their end, it hasn't.

"When we made it to a BCS bowl, we didn't say, 'OK quit recruiting these guys. We're going to go recruit all these other guys,'" KU coach Mark Mangino said. "We've stayed on the type of kid that fits the profile of our program, that wants to be at Kansas, that has some of those values that we talk about all year here. The value of hard work, teamwork, wanting to be a good citizen, wanting to earn a college degree."

From the other end, though, it is getting better.

Kansas locked up another popular recruit Friday, when Rivals.com reported that touted cornerback Greg Brown out of Cedar Hill, Texas, committed to the Jayhawks this week.

Brown, a former teammate of current KU receiver Dezmon Briscoe, picked Kansas over Kansas State, Virginia, Arizona and Arkansas. Cedar Hill High coach Joey McGuire said the Jayhawks' new shiny resume had something to do with it.

"When you are 11-1, that sure does help," McGuire told Rivals. "When you are doing that, you can get kids like Greg. : Kansas is catching up."

But like many aspects of the KU football program, recruiting will take baby steps toward greater heights.

Right now, Kansas is noticing increased interest from their top targets more than anything. More commitments from the top targets - especially over schools that can thrive off name alone - is the next step they're approaching.

"We've always recruited great players," Mangino said. "But some of the great ones, by September, tell you to get lost. This year, some of them are visiting, have visited and are really interested."

One is Cyrus Gray, a 6-foot, 190-pound running back out of DeSoto, Texas. Gray is being recruited by several of the traditional powers, including Notre Dame and Florida. The Jayhawks offered early and have since stuck around in the top five of Gray's lengthy list. He took an official visit to KU earlier this month.

Examples like Gray are slowly starting to become more common at Kansas.

The Jayhawks are more than halfway home on their 2008 recruiting. Brown's commitment on Friday gives KU 16 known pledges for the class, with signing day on Feb. 6.

The 11-1 regular season and Orange Bowl berth certainly don't hurt. But the Jayhawks aren't getting over-inflated heads over it, either.

"People ask me all the time if recruiting gets easier. It never gets easier," Mangino said. "That term doesn't fit with recruiting. But we have kids that maybe would've dropped off earlier in the season.

"We are competing with more successful programs in the country. It never really gets easier, but more doors have opened and more kids have kept their interest with us."

Comments

troutsee 12 years, 5 months ago

Well stated, J. Burtin. Getting the right kind of player, especially one with a positive, team-oriented attitude is huge.

JBurtin 12 years, 5 months ago

It's nice to see players like Greg Brown and Nick Plato coming to KU. We've had plenty of guys that were rated as 3 stars commit over the last few years. But it seemed that we were always getting the ones that only came here because the offer they "really" wanted didn't come through. These are just two examples of guys that had many offers from some very good programs and simply chose to come here.

I definitely agree that the coaches need to keep doing what they have been doing already. If a guy like Corrigan Powell is only 5-9, but they know that he is going to be an incredible player, then of course we should jump on the chance to have him where others have backed off. I'd much rather have a 5-9 playmaker than a 6-1 guy that is only decent. It is this eye for talent that separates Mangino from the other coaching staffs in the Big 12. He doesn't care what other people think of you, he cares about how you can contribute to the team.

That being said, it is cool to finally be able to pick up guys that are not only playmakers, but are the right size to have NFL potential as well. It's awfully good advertising for a program when players watch NFL games and see that many players come from your program.

sevenyearhawk 12 years, 5 months ago

If this momentum can be sustained ... wow!

AgHawk 12 years, 5 months ago

It's great to see another Cedar Hill Longhorn heading north to KU! I am good friends with Coach McGuire and he continues to produce quality athletes on and off the field. Keep that Cedar Hill / KU connection going!

kufan1975 12 years, 5 months ago

i am wondering if the other programs in the conference other than ou or ut see ku getting better and realize that maybe a sleeping giant in ku is about to be awakended...and even ou and ut see ku and the success and realize that maybe sometime soon they will be battling ku for the prized recruits out of ut....i see ku becoming better than aTm; i see them being better than osu....i see them becoming better than tech....of course there will be down years...but by down i mean three loss seasons....coach mangino and his staff will continue to get the kids who want to work hard and want to be apart of a program that was built the right way and by a staff who cares about their future...will be load up on five star guys no probably not....but i don't see why we can't pick up a five star and more than two or three fours....lawrence has a lot to offer...it is close to kansas city....it is a college town where the players will be treated like rock stars....but it is also a place where a kid can come to love and want to live there in later life...how many other ku athletes from other sports have come back and made lawrence home....two come to mind one is scott pollard and of course the greatest ku basketball player of all time danny manning....this will happen very soon and the dominance of the north will be a yearly thing....i love mark mangino and the job he has done....i am a diehard ku fan and i love football...the success only helps the university not only in revenue but on the national stage in the way of advertising and allows other perspective students not just athletes but tradional students think about ku as a school they would love to attend....thank you mark mangino and coaches and players for a memorable season i for one will never forget ....let's hope this is one of many successful years to come...(i am not a ku alum just a fan who should have been at ku a long time ago)

thiknthinhawk 12 years, 5 months ago

An athletic director dedicated to football... the AP national football coach of the year...11-1 and on the way to the orange bowl, all-americans, new football only facilities, being in on top recruits, the majority of our team returning next year, and we could go on and on. KU football is finally here to stay! Man, I've been looking forward to this day for a long time!

seattlehawk_78 12 years, 5 months ago

We are winning now without the prized recruits so I'm not sure it is essential that we land those 4 and 5-stars. I don't believe Mark and his staff are necessarily looking for game breakers but rather those athletes who can play their position. The difference between this year and the previous 5 seasons is that we are fundamentally sound at every position.

My concern is that since we are no longer flying under the radar, any recruit that we are looking at that may have previously gone unnoticed will now get another look by our competitors. Mack Brown et. al. does not want to see another Todd Reesing walk away from Austin without so much as a glance.

Kevin Long 12 years, 5 months ago

I think we will have a good team for years to come.

seattlehawk_78 12 years, 5 months ago

Good idea mizboohoo fan.

Wile yur at it, let look at tiggers two after yur kuzins mbarass u.

MoAntler 12 years, 5 months ago

Let look at the momentum after the jaybirds get waxed by Tech.

MoAntler 12 years, 5 months ago

seatlehawk, guess who's not in Kansas anymore? Good move. I can hardly stand reading this crap anymore. It is nothing more than a group of basketball fans thinking they know something about football. Talking to each other about what a great year they have had and how Tweetybird U. is on the path of a football greatness. So it happened in '47 and '68 and now in '07, having finished off Little Sister of the Poor and barely beat three of the bottom half of the Big 12 teams, you have momentum?? Tweetybirds got manhandled by the 2nd best team in the XII and did not play the 3rd and 4th next best teams in the XII, which probably reduces Tweetybird to the 5th best team with a little luck. Tweetybird U. does not deserve a BCS bowl. Tweetybirds exposed -- Tech - 42 Tweetybirds - 3

thiknthinhawk 12 years, 5 months ago

moantler- It must be tough having cotton mouth. I wouldn't know. I'll just enjoy your lecture about football program while I eat an orange. Single digits, by the way, hardly qualifies as manhandled. How long has it been since Missouri played in January, anyway? Surely, a program so rich in tradition has played in January in the last five years. OK, maybe the last ten. No? How about fifteen? Um, twenty? Er,uh hm. Twenty five? What? It's been over thirty years since MU has played in a January bowl?I can see why you're so hostile. I can also see why we Hawk fans should be so embarrassed by pretending to know something about football in the presence of such rich football tradition as, uh, who were we talking about again? Oh, yeah, MU. Sorry.

Kevin Long 12 years, 5 months ago

I guess we all forgot how big MU football is MoAntler. I get tired of you idiots acting like you have tradition. You haven't ever done sh** in any sport. You had a good year this year, I will give you that. Other than that, what have you done better than KU for anything? Even if we don't have a good football team we still are one of the elite in bball. It's pretty sad when you name your court after a guy who never even made the final four. That just shows the difference between us.

We both had great seasons this year. Just don't be so foolish as to act like your a big 12 power. Go ahead and talk your trash on us all you want. Just don't do like the KSU fan and not come back and admit your wrong if we win the game. Be a man!

seattlehawk_78 12 years, 5 months ago

moantler, if we don't know anything about football then being lectured by you is like the blind leading the blind. Why don't you take this opportunity to tell us about mizwho's storied football program so we can all have a good laugh.

BTW, if we're guilty of being basketball fans it's only because we actually have a basketball team. When your school gets a program that is worthy of notice let me know.

actorman 12 years, 5 months ago

Now common everyone, Misuse actually won a national title in baseball in the '50s, so they have a powerhouse sports history. No basketball championships can possibly compare to that '50s CWS title.

okiedave 12 years, 5 months ago

The Columbia Tribune says that Daniels and one of the Missouri top receivers are putting their names in the NFL draft. Mizzerable may not have much to crow about next year. Do you think MoAntler is a little moody about playing in the Cotton and not being able to put a team together next year?

troutsee 12 years, 5 months ago

The pros will be cool on Daniels. He'll be back for his senior year, after which, they'll probably still be cool on him.

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