Thursday, December 13, 2012

Iowa Western C.C. O-Lineman Mike Smithburg picks KU football


It’s been almost a year since new Kansas University football commitment Mike Smithburg last shaved, and during that year a lot of good things have happened.

Although his girlfriend and mother are urging him to get rid of the whiskers, it’s hard to argue with what the beard did for the Iowa Western Community College offensive lineman.

Juco national championship. Scholarship offer to Kansas. Honorable mention All-American nod. And, of course, an easy and automatic conversation starter.


New Kansas University football commitment, Mike Smithburg, announcing his college decision at Iowa Western Community College.

“I think I’m gonna get rid of it,” Smithburg said Thursday. “I’ve got a girlfriend that I plan on keeping around for a while and my mom hates it, so, if I were smart, I’d probably get rid of it.”

Intelligence is one of the things that helped lead Smithburg, 6-foot-3, 300 pounds, to Kansas. Not only does he have experience as a guard, but he also has enough smarts and experience to be able to play center, as well.

“(People have) told me that, even as a guard, I was still kind of playing the role of the center,” Smithburg said. “The center would make the Mike (linebacker) point and the basic stuff like that but I would identify blitzes a lot and call stuff to make sure that people didn’t have questions right before the snap.”

Smithburg orally committed to KU coach Charlie Weis late Wednesday night. He chose the Jayhawks over interest from schools ranging from Akron and Florida Atlantic to Memphis, Illinois and South Florida and canceled an upcoming visit to Illinois. The reason?

“The people,” Smithburg said. “Coach Weis is obviously awesome, and (offensive line) coach (Tim) Grunhard and (graduate assistant) coach Rod Jones, who are going to be working with the offensive linemen, are awesome. There are plenty of differences, but the juco thing is not that different from D-I in that you’re gonna be around your position coaches and strength coaches the most and I like my position coaches and the strength coach (Scott Holsopple) a lot.”

The addition of Smithburg brings KU’s commitment total in the Class of 2013 to 19, with 13 coming from the juco ranks. Smithburg is the fourth offensive lineman in the class. He plans to make his commitment official by signing Wednesday and will report to campus in mid-January in time to participate in spring football.

“I’ve seen what being a December grad can do for you,” Smithburg said. “And that was my plan all along, to get the offer during the season and come in in January. It’s gonna help me a lot.”

Weis and company have as many as eight spots still available in the current class and at least one target, Fort Scott CC cornerback Kevin Short, 6-2, 185, announced earlier this week that he would make his decision today.

Early Wednesday morning, news broke of Navarro Junior College offensive tackle Zach Fondal picking the Jayhawks, and, late Tuesday night, highly coveted defensive tackle Marquel Combs announced that he had chosen Kansas, as well.

Here’s an updated look at KU's current recruiting class:

Kellen Ash: 6-3, 194-pound linebacker from Parkway South High in Missouri. A three-star prospect, who committed to KU last April.

Joey Bloomfield: 6-6, 305-pound offensive tackle from Ballard High in Louisville, Ky., who chose KU over offers from Air Force, Colorado, Houston, Kansas State, San Diego State and Wyoming.

Andrew Bolton: 6-3, 280-pound defensive end from Hinds C.C. in Raymond, Miss. Clocked at 4.8 seconds in the 40-yard dash, Bolton also had offers from Iowa, LSU and Mississippi State.

Marquel Combs: 6-5, 305-pound defensive tackle from Pierce Community College in Woodland Hills, Calif. This four-star impact player had 50 offers and chose Kansas over Kansas State late Tuesday night.

Montell Cozart: 6-2, 180-pound quarterback from Bishop Miege High in Kansas City. Played high school football under current KU offensive line coach Tim Grunhard.

Jordan Darling: 6-4, 226-pound quarterback from Shawnee Mission East High in Kansas City. Dominated summer camps and picked the Jayhawks over Kansas State.

Samson Faifili: 5-11, 240-pound linebacker from American River C.C. in Sacramento, Calif., committed to Kansas in mid-November, choosing KU over Hawaii, Iowa State, Nevada and Oregon State.

Zach Fondal: 6-5, 295-pound offensive tackle from Navarro Junior College in California. Canceled trips to Arkansas and Texas Tech and committed to KU.

Ngalu Fusimalohi: 6-3, 300-pound offensive guard from City College of San Francisco. Known as a mauler, Fusimalohi’s offer list closely resembled Faifili’s.

Marcus Jenkins-Moore: 6-3, 210-pound linebacker from Pierce C.C. in Woodland Hills, Calif., who describes his game as “relentless” and chose KU over offers from a dozen other BCS-conference schools including K-State, Arkansas, Texas A&M; and Texas Tech.

Ben Johnson: 6-5, 230-pound tight end from Basehor-Linwood High near Kansas City, was one of the first players in the class to commit.

Isaiah Johnson: 6-1, 210-pound safety from Iowa Western C.C. Helped lead IWCC to a juco national title while leading the team with eight interceptions. Was named an NJCAA honorable mention All-American on Wednesday.

Tedarian Johnson: 6-3, 285-pound defensive tackle and juco teammate of Bolton. Chose Kansas over offers from Iowa State, Memphis, Mississippi State and Texas Tech.

Dexter McDonald: 6-2, 203-pound cornerback and former KU player who recommitted to the Jayhawks this fall after spending the year at Butler County C.C.

Trevor Pardula: 6-5, 210-pound punter and kickoff specialist who picked the Jayhawks over hometown San Jose State.

Cassius Sendish: 6-2, 185-pound cornerback from Arizona Western C.C. A natural leader and hard hitter who chose KU over Big 12 schools Iowa State and K-State, among others.

Mike Smithburg: 6-3, 300-pound offensive lineman from Iowa Western C.C. Versatile lineman with experience as both a guard and a center, picked KU over Illinois and is expected to arrive in time for spring football.

Colin Spencer: 5-10, 179-pound athlete from Woodrow Wilson High in Dallas. Played cornerback, wide receiver and quarterback in high school. May graduate early and enroll at KU in time for spring football.

Mark Thomas: 6-2, 210-pound wide receiver from Nassau C.C. in New York. Solid, physical wideout chose KU over UConn and Marshall.


Phil Leister 8 years, 5 months ago

Matt, I'm not sure how your first sentence/paragraph made it past the editors. Periods are your friends sometimes.

Brandon Pope 8 years, 5 months ago

I se.e no pro.blem with it. Pr..oper spelling, use of arti.cles, conjun..cti.ons an.d nouns. pun.ctuati.on within and at.. the e..nd of the. sent.ence. proper.. use of f.orma.l punct..uation. Go.od .writing s.tyle a.nd voca.bulary ...


Jonathan Allison 8 years, 5 months ago

Is that all you have to say about this news?

Welcome Mike! Now hurry down, because there's lots of work to be done this spring.

Tad Shurtz 8 years, 5 months ago

It's a perfect sentence. Nice write up, Matt. Thanks.

whitechocolate 8 years, 5 months ago

Nonsense, periods just slow down good news.

Matt Tait 8 years, 5 months ago

I think the odds are good that KU will get one more tackle, quite possibly one of the guys you mentioned.

LAJayhawk 8 years, 5 months ago

Josiah St. John is a complete and total BEAST. He blows everybody back and has good speed. If we land him over all those other BCS schools vying for him like OU, OSU, Ore St, A&M, Arkansas, Wash, WSU, WVU, etc, etc, it will be a big time pick up.

texashawk10 8 years, 5 months ago

Speed means nothing for an offensive linemen. Quickness is the trait that is very valuable for linemen.

LAJayhawk 8 years, 5 months ago

Don't be so pedantic. I meant quickness. I got 3 hours sleep with a two year old vomiting. I apologize for the wrong wording....

David Leathers 8 years, 5 months ago

Sorry to hear about your 2-year old. Hope he/she gets better soon. No need to apologize, we knew what you meant. However, speed could be utilized by a lineman on screen plays... Just sayin'...

LAJayhawk 8 years, 5 months ago

That is actually part of it. If you watch the highlight video on Rivals, he's out deep in the secondary in front of his HBs consistently. He looked amazing on that vid.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 8 years, 5 months ago

Agreed. If anything, periods make things boring.

KGphoto 8 years, 5 months ago

Does that mean your post was boring times two lol

Reuben_J_Cogburn 8 years, 5 months ago

Well-played, sir.

But both you and I know that my posts are boring with or without the periods.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 8 years, 5 months ago

I am glad to see the attention they're paying to line, both D and O. Obviously that's been a weak point for KU, and if we hope to compete in the Big XII, we need consistency in the trenches.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 8 years, 5 months ago

Ha. Everyone needs to take a break from themselves here and there.

Brandon Pope 8 years, 5 months ago

As we continue to use up the scholarships available I am glad to see a good blend of problem areas addressed. Although the defense was actually a better unit overall this year I still feel there is more need on that side of the ball given who is leaving and the fact that the offense was irreparably hindered by abysmal QB play. I still hold the belief that our offense with a even a mediocre QB and maybe one more good receiver (say if McCay had been able to play) could have won 3-4 games this year which was my original prediction. Just no way to know how bad Crist would be.

Assuming Heaps can play (and I have certainly learned my lesson about assuming such things), and the offensive linemen we have added I like where we stand this year on that side of the ball. However, I think one more OL and more importantly 1-2 WRs could make a HUGE difference for this team.

We have 8 spots left I believe. I would like to see the final breakdown as such:

Offense: 1OL, 1TE, 2 WR Defense: 1DE, 1LB, 1Saftey, 1CB

If we can do that, this could be an entirely different product on the field this season, and that is saying something because it was an entirely different product out there last year too, even if the record looks worse

Brandon Pope 8 years, 5 months ago

That would be great. If we got two more how best to use them? I think another WR (although 2 is probably pushing it already) and maybe more help in the defensive backfield. Really though, if we didn't add anything else to what we have already and we were able to get 2 WRs I would be pretty happy

Ron Prichard 8 years, 5 months ago

Don't forget we need a field goal kicker, so save one spot for that. The kicker we signed is a kickoff specialist and a punter. We need someone who can consistently put it through the uprights!

shelleysue 8 years, 5 months ago

Amen. I don't care what it takes Coach. Get us a field goal kicker.

Brandon Pope 8 years, 5 months ago

I know we have that one transfer and then the one they got a commitment from another. Are neither of them supposed to be ready to handle FG and PAT duty?

texashawk10 8 years, 5 months ago

Eric Khan, go to KU's website and click on his name on the roster.

Micky Baker 8 years, 5 months ago

Already a FG kicker on the roster that had to sit out due to NCAA transfer rules.

lv_jhwk 8 years, 5 months ago

If my knowledge of the scholarship rules is correct (and there's a decent chance its not), I believe that we can sign 9 more guys. The limit per season is 25, but up to two of the early enrollers can be counted towards last year's total which fell below the limit.

If anything, I'd like to see the majority of the rest of these schollies given to high school players. Sure, sign a St. John or Chris Martin, but then make sure we don't have to do this every other year.

Matt Tait 8 years, 5 months ago

Smithburg makes 19 (the list above has 18, but he's not on the list) so there's actually eight spots left if they choose to use them all.

But you are correct in that 27 is the total number.

VaJay 8 years, 5 months ago

Are there any good field goal kickers out there? We could sure use one.

MattressMan 8 years, 5 months ago

Eric Kahn 6-5 , 180 Kicker SO (TR) Spring Hill, Kan./Spring Hill HS/MidAmerican Nazarene

from what I inderstand this kid is supposed to be pretty solid and he had to sit this year because of transfer rules.

ltownatrain 8 years, 5 months ago

Actually he likely had to sit for other reasons because if he came from Mid-America then he wouldn't necessarily have to sit due to transfer rules because they are NAIA. Under NCAA rules you only have to sit a year if you transfer within the same division and level such as from one FBS to another however a player jumping up or down a division does not have to sit out a year for transferring. So it means that he likely had to sit for other reasons such as injury, grades or weis not wanting to waste a year if he was not better than the person in front of him.

KGphoto 8 years, 5 months ago

If it was injury or Weis' decision, wouldn't that be a redshirt? If it was grades related I would think he wouldn't be counted on the roster. He would be ineligible.

On his KU Athletics page it lists TR under experience, which stands for transfer. Don't know the rules but it seems that was the reason he sat out.

Brandon Pope 8 years, 5 months ago

This guy. Tweeted this link to Weis when I saw it. Just doing my part :-) Only offer is Eastern Washington. The kid hits a 67 yard FG in the video.

gorilla10 8 years, 5 months ago

If Heaps is for real, KU will win. If Heaps is Dayne, we will win 1-2 games again.....

Reuben_J_Cogburn 8 years, 5 months ago

God help us if the latter is the case. But they were saying all year Heaps was the best QB, which is great news......

.........but it's also a sliding scale.

Michael Sizemore 8 years, 5 months ago

2 tons of fun... Bringing the beef. 4,247#

Jake Waddle 8 years, 5 months ago

I know we have Heaps/Cummings/Baty/two frosh and dont really need another QB, but is the Waters kid from Iowa Western the brother of the Waters baseball player at KU from a year or two back?? Would have been a good guy to bring in that may have brought IWCC teammates with him... Just Wondering.

B0B 8 years, 5 months ago

For crying out loud people- does every article have to have 15 comments about needing a kicker? WE HAVE ONE! how many times does it have to be mentioned that we have a good kicker who had to sit out this year after transfer? sure there is always a chance he may bust, but how many schollies do you want to burn on kickers?

Micky Baker 8 years, 5 months ago

Burning 2 or 3 schollies with kickers? We have more pressing needs than that right now.

B0B 8 years, 5 months ago

We also don't have one proven QB, WR, DT, CB, and on and on.

2 new kickers is enough for one year.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 5 months ago

Heaps set records as a freshmen. That rather proven. Definitely true about WR's, but at least we do have several options for DT's and CB's.

Bville Hawk 8 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for the post. There has been some confusion as to whether he was just a kickoff guy or could place kick as well. Obviously from the video he can do all 3 very well. On the 50 - 60 yard field goals he seemingly does it so effortlessly, makes it look like he's just kicking PAT's!

Dale Stringer 8 years, 5 months ago

Well it looks like we have a someone for FGs and kickoffs. Punting, I'm not so sure. He can certainly punt it a ways, but it looked like they were all landing in the endzone or beyond - not where you want a punt to land. You want it to land at/slightly inside the 10yrd line so the gunners can down it inside the 5. I would also like so views on his lateral punt placement.

KGphoto 8 years, 5 months ago

Looked smooth. I used to watch Mason Crosby warming up at CU in a mostly empty stadium. Dude was kicking 65 yard field goals off a tee and landing 'em in the stands. I figured the would have been good from 80 or more, and they looked easy. Not so easy in a game obviously or he'd be the greatest kicker of all time by a mile.

By the way, everyone of Crosby's kicks sounded like a Howitzer went off. They literally echoed throughout the stadium. This kid is kicking 60 yarders and it sounds like a pitching wedge from the deep rough. Weird.

B0B 8 years, 5 months ago

when was the last time you saw a FG kicker get injured?

maybe (very unlikely) a pulled groin where they are out 1 week. our new KO/punter can fill in for 1 game. use the scholarship on a wide receiver.

texashawk10 8 years, 5 months ago

Groin injuries almost always take more than a week to heal and can have a negative impact for the rest of the year, just ask Ron Doherty. Doherty is an above average punter (43 yards in 2011 down to 40 yards in 2012) who looked below average for most of the season because he was punting with a less than healthy groin most of the year that he injured on a PAT I believe against NIU I think.

Micky Baker 8 years, 5 months ago

A kicker doesn't need that long. See Oakland Raider Kicker. He kicked 50 yards plus accurately with groin injury.

Ron Prichard 8 years, 5 months ago

Yeah, and you're saying we can find someone like him to kick for us? He's one of the best kickers in the NFL. I don't see one of those on our roster right now.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 5 months ago

I thought the injury was on a long FG attempt.

KGphoto 8 years, 5 months ago

God that's so funny. You beat me to it... by almost a day.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 8 years, 5 months ago

Yeah....sorry, Bob.

We actually deserve to put 115 comments about needing a kicker. As a matter of fact, there are probably 15 people posting on these threads that can kick better than we did this season.

MizzouSportsSuck1 8 years, 5 months ago

If KU wants a kicker, they should offer the kid from Rockhurst. He's a KU guy from what I understand. I also understand he is being recruited by Arkansas and Alabama. That kid is the real deal.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 8 years, 5 months ago

I don't care if it's a homeless guy living on Mass Street as long as he can kick.

Reuben_J_Cogburn 8 years, 5 months ago

In fact...I may have something there. We haven't even attempted to scout the homeless population of Lawrence and the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Could be some diamonds in the rough there.

Chris Bailey 8 years, 5 months ago

Yeah I saw the Rockhurst kid kick. He is legit! If we haven't offered him we most definitely should! He has a huge leg.

Jerry Rockhold 8 years, 5 months ago

That "Rockhurst kid" is a family friend. My younger son goes to RHS & the kid you're talking about comes from a great family. I talked to him in the school hallway recently & congratulated him on a great season. I asked him about kicking in college & he said he was thinking about it. He's be a great edition to the KU team.

MizzouSportsSuck1 8 years, 5 months ago

If he said he's "thinking" about it that's playing possum. Pretty sure that kid will have quite a few offers.

NebraskaJayhawk 8 years, 5 months ago


Obviously WR was a concern going into the season last year and it proved to be a huge problem throughout the season. Zero touchdowns to a WR during the season is not only poor QB play, but also poor WR play. I think Turzilli has a chance to do some big things next season, but beyond Any of these new guys any good? Seriously...

Matt Tait 8 years, 5 months ago

I think Parmalee can play. He's never gonna be a difference maker or that No. 1 type guy, but he runs great routes, works as hard as anyone and just has that it factor about him.

If he can emerge as that mid-level guy and Turzilli can continue to make strides as a deep threat, McCay has a chance to become an upper-level guy if he stays dialed in and develops.

All that said, they still need more than that.

Lucas Town 8 years, 5 months ago

Reads like Snyder got three players off of that team, 2 of them JUCO all-americans. I am not too excited about this, we have seen what Snyder has done with JUCO players.

hawkdds 8 years, 5 months ago

I keep asking, does anybody know anything concrete about Ty McKinney?

Matt Tait 8 years, 5 months ago

He's expected to sign Wednesday and coming at semester. Just found that out for sure today. Will have a note about it later.

Jim Jackson 8 years, 5 months ago

Tait, any news on Jon Shelby? The LB we signed from the JUCO in NY? Thanks for all the coverage!

Matt Tait 8 years, 5 months ago

I'll see what I can find out but I haven't heard anything about him in a while.

Jeff Coffman 8 years, 5 months ago

I think afterall that has been done, we need a few more receivers. I think we had one receiver over 6'1" last year (don't know for sure) and speed really didn't help in separation.

I'm hoping McCray helps out a lot. I also help that the reps that Heaps/McCray had on the practice squad helped with their timing this upcoming year. However, I would love to see one or two additional ones.

The kicking situation seems fixed. There was one recruit that sat out this year, due to transfer rules, and then we just offered another. I'll tell you the one that just committed, if he doesn't work out as a kicker, try tight end. 6'5" 210, with a little time with Hopstopple (sp?) he'll be a big old player. And don't get me wrong, I'd take his heigth on the WR slot as well.

Love the news and already getting pumped up for football again...even though this season was stressful.

rockchalkblock 8 years, 5 months ago

If we can get the passing game going and have the same production we had this year from running backs, I would love to see Mundine split out like Fine use to, he could be money on 3rd down conversions!

Micky Baker 8 years, 5 months ago

KU is now rated 42nd in the country for this recruiting class so far ahead of Texas Tech, Kansas State, and TCU now. Iowa State is number 41 and they have gotten their 25 commitments already. KU Will likely end up in the lower to mid 30s where West Virginia currently is.

Jeff Kilgore 8 years, 5 months ago

That does open my eyes this morning. It's still too early to be reading this.

hawkdds 8 years, 5 months ago

Thanks Matt, I was beginning to think we lost him. Now if we could get a couple of Dezmon Briscoe type receivers the n we could be awesome.RCJH

Dyrk Dugan 8 years, 5 months ago

the Star this morning made a big deal of KSU landing this QB that was Smithburg's teammate (they also just got a 4* LB from Lee's Summit West) ....but something struck me:

the article said he was only 5-11...Rivals has him at 6-2. which is it? and if it's that much of a difference, there's a good chance he's only 5-10 or less. i'm not saying he can't play, (see Todd Reesing), but that discrepancy is fairly big.

i like our HS QBs that Weis has landed....we're really focusing on the lines in this class...and that's good.

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