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Thursday, February 7, 2013

KU football recruiting class gets some national love

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Although many college football programs still have spots available, most of the recruiting classes for 2013 were finalized Wednesday.

Kansas University, under the direction of second-year head coach Charlie Weis, officially signed 25 players in its latest class, including 18 from the junior-college ranks.

Now that the ink is dry and the faxes have fallen silent, what do the so-called experts think about Weis’ haul?

The Sporting News is the national media outlet that has, by far, the most faith in the Jayhawks-to-be. KU’s class landed 25th on the Sporting News’ final team rankings, which were released Wednesday night. No explanation was given, but it seems fair to suggest that the Sporting News clearly values junior-college prospects more than the others.

Rivals.com, which deemed KU to have the seventh-best recruiting class in the 10-team Big 12, ranked KU 45th; 247Sports.com ranked the Jayhawks 50th; and ESPN.com put KU in slot 55, one spot behind Kansas State.

Although he was not asked specifically about the rankings, Weis offered some insight into why his collection of talent placed where it did when he spoke with reporters on signing day.

“I think recruiting classes are based off high school seniors,” said Weis, who added just seven such players to his roster this offseason. “I don’t think one (ranking) system really is factoring in a junior-college player playing at the top of their game right now.”

To further make his point, Weis pointed to juco defensive tackle Marquel Combs, who ranked No. 1 on ESPN’s list of the top junior-college players in the nation.

“Combs, they list as a four-star player,” Weis began. “How can the No. 1 player in the country not be rated with the most stars? (It’s) because they are rating him based on what he was in high school, not what he is right now.”

Combs, who has the look of an almost-certain starter at defensive tackle, is one of the best examples of why Weis believes bulking up the roster with juco talent can help turn things around at Kansas.

The fact that Sunflower State rival Kansas State has proven it can work under Bill Snyder only fuels the fire.

“I don’t think people have the appropriate resources to be able to evaluate a class based off of the combination of high school guys and junior-college guys,” Weis said. “Let’s face it, if you sit here and get 18 (high school) guys that are ready that are five and four stars by everybody, your recruiting class is going to be rated way up top. But tell me they are more ready than the 18 junior-college players that you just brought in, and I would beg to differ. I’ll take the 18 junior-college players, because they are ready to play now. You have seen them on tape; you have seen them against college players; you have seen them physically, and they are two years older, at least.”

Going the junior-college route certainly is not without its challenges, but Weis, who prides himself on looking into the future and trying to stay one step ahead of opponents, does not believe blending a juco-heavy class with what’s already on the roster will be that tough.

“A lot of them are here already, and that helps,” said Weis, referencing eight of the 10 midyear transfers who are on campus and will participate in spring practice. “But there are going to be tweaks in what we do on offense and defense that everyone’s going to have to learn. I’ve had a couple months to study our team, and I’ve already enlightened the staff on what directions we’re heading.”

For better or worse, that appears to be down a similar road Snyder took the Wildcats. Whether it works out the same way remains to be seen and will not be known for at least a few years.

“When (KU athletic director, Sheahon) Zenger offered me this job, I went online, and I looked at their roster, and I looked at our roster,” Weis said of the Wildcats. “I saw all their junior-college kids, and I saw none of ours. I said, ‘Well, it’s pretty obvious what the formula is, go do that.’ And then when I saw coach Snyder before the game this year, I said, ‘I just want you to know, I learned a lot from your model, and there are a lot of things I took from it.’ It was a nice cordial conversation, but I meant it out of respect for coach Snyder, because I haven’t seen a guy work that system any better than he has.”

Comments

Michael Sillman 1 year, 10 months ago

Matt, I counted 8 freshmen in the commit list earlier in the week but now you are saying 7. Did I miscount?

Somebody said that you are not counting Colin Spencer. Why would you do that? Isn't he considered part of the class?

Michael Sillman 1 year, 10 months ago

I checked out that link but did not see any explanation. I still count 8 high schoolers with Ash, Bloomfield, Cozart, Darling, Goeas, Hyman, Johnson, and Spencer.

NebraskaJayhawk 1 year, 10 months ago

I'm not a big fan of the juco recruiting system if that's all you're geared toward. You have to have guys coming up through the system as freshman because they're able to learn the system for 4 years and build team chemistry. I agree that sprinkling in Juco players is a good idea to fill in the gaps, but I hope this is not something we consistantly do. The top tier programs year in and year out do not rely on Juco players as their main recruiting focus. I hope Weis is doing this to get us back in the black in the win/loss column and then shift his focus slowly back towards the 3-4 star hs players with an occasional 5 star. I know I'm wanting a lot considering the state of our program.

Kman_blue 1 year, 10 months ago

You need to listen to coach Weis' press conference on signing day. This exact topic was specifically asked of him and he gave a thorough answer.

You can listen to the entire 1:08.30 of it here on this very site:

http://www2.kusports.com/podcasts/press_conferences_postgame_interviews/2013/feb/06/ku-football-coach-charlie-weis-sizes-class-2013/

You can even skip ahead and only listen to the Q&A part which is the last30 minutes or so.

And in case you don't even want to do that, he more or less said he laid out a 3 year recruiting plan for his staff and that the blend of JUCO and HS recruits would change each year (fewer JUCO's and more HS recruits each year) so they're never in a situation where they don't have enough players coming back at each position or they have something like 30 seniors any 1 year because obviously they can only recruit about 25 guys any 1 year.

That's obviously paraphrasing,and off the cuff from my hearing him speak 2 days ago.

jhox 1 year, 10 months ago

There is no reason to panic. He had no choice, unless he wanted to win one or two games a year the next two or three years and then get fired. Our roster needed help now, not 2 years from now. Despite the obvious improvement we saw in a number of areas last season, there were people on here all but calling for Weis to be fired. The immediate Juco help is obviously the right move at this point in the development of the program. Weis has said he would prefer to have the luxury of more high school recruits, but had little choice but go after a lot of Juco guys this year.

Glen Mason put together a few solid teams at KU with a mix of high school and Juco guys, as did Mike Gottfried. Given the lowly stature of our program it is going to take awhile before we can afford to recruit mostly high school players. Mangino missed the opportunity to put together a solid recruiting class of high school talent following our Orange Bowl season, and that set the program back 10 years, and it ultimately cost him his job. The player treatment issues were merely a smoke screen for the firing.

Bottom line, don't panic. Weis clearly considers the heavily Juco class to be a short term solution only.

As a side note, I saw USA Today listed that school to our east (the school that used to be our rival) as being one of the big losers in recruiting this year and pointed out they had the lowest ranked class in the SEC. It's good to see that being in "the" football power conference has helped them out so much.

VaJay 1 year, 10 months ago

+1 JHox. Well said. I think all of us & CW will find out pretty soon next season how good these Juco kids are. I hope the Sporting News is the closest to being correct. Great news about Misery too, love to see them struggle in football. Looking forward to them being a doormat.

NebraskaJayhawk 1 year, 10 months ago

There was no panic on my concerned paragraph. I am a Weis supporter, and am glad he is not intending to continue this trend for years to come.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 10 months ago

Inside the numbers - I believe it was here that a recent article said we had lost 29 players since Weis arrived. Those weren't all seniors. There are lots of recruiting holes that can't be filled with a freshman ("Jr"-DMiller, "Jr"-KTerry, ...) that need to be replaced by upperclassmen.

Ray Winger 1 year, 10 months ago

O.J. Simpson was Junior College All-American Running Back for City College of San Francisco, before finishing at USC. There are really good players and a lot of also-rans in JuCo's. I think it takes a lot of work to find and qualify them. Hat's off to all the support staff.

bradh 1 year, 10 months ago

Ju Co players have worked out nicely for Snyder, not so well for Prince. I think you have to be very careful with Ju Co players. I trust Weis, so I'm sure he did his due diligence and the guys we're bringing in will be good citizens as well as good football players.

jhox 1 year, 10 months ago

That had as much to do with the coaching as with the players. Snyder did good things with Prince's recruits.

NebraskaJayhawk 1 year, 10 months ago

Very good point. I guess we will see if the coaching staff is able to help these athetes make the jump to D1 football. I have to say I am getting tired of the Snyder comparisons as much as I respect the man.

jhox 1 year, 10 months ago

I wouldn't mind the Snyder comparisons if we were also winning like he does.

JakeBarnes 1 year, 10 months ago

Weis has done the right thing. Check out K-State's rise to being a power house team nationally and in the Big 12.

NebraskaJayhawk 1 year, 10 months ago

We are not K-State. These references need to stop. I respect K-State and their coach, but they are our rival so let's stop referencing them as if we want to be like them.

Paul Wilson 1 year, 10 months ago

IMO...for a rivalry to exist, both parties have to be competitive. We are not. And for a couple seasons sprinkled in the past 30+ years...we never have been.

Alex Berger 1 year, 10 months ago

30+? More like a little less than 20. KSU didn't become competitive until the early/mid 90s. And if we aren't rivals why does KSU go bananas every time they win? They clearly view KU as a rival, KU just hasn't made it interesting the last few years.

CrystalJones 1 year, 10 months ago

No, we are not K-State. They were the Big XII champions this year, and it was their second championship. We finished last for the second year in a row and have never won a Big XII championship. In fact, we have won a grand total of 2 conference games since 2008, while K-State has won 22 during that time.

Charlie wants to be like them, and who can blame him? I want to be like them, too.

Interestingly, K-State only took 6 juco players this year, and 26 high school players. Maybe we can get to that point soon.

Mark Lindrud 1 year, 10 months ago

KStae has been successful under Snyder and that's the reality of the situation. It isn't a sin to mirror a successful program such as KState for now. If we are able to start winning now rather than later I'm all for it. We can still sign high school players to develop who can watch and learn. As we garner success we may not need as many JUCO players, but to fill small holes, but right now we need starters to fill big holes.

jhawkrulz 1 year, 10 months ago

K-State has lost more games than all but one football team.

If K-State won the next 35 games against KU in football, we would still have a better record against them.

K-State's program has only recently improved, and has proven without Snyder it will epically fail.

CrystalJones 1 year, 10 months ago

Well, I guess we can make ourselves feel better by dredging up all-time historical numbers, but for me it's not about the past it's about the now. The fact is that we've never accomplished what they have. Fifteen bowl games in 20 years, 5 division championships and two Big XII championships. They've been ranked No. 1 in the polls in two different seasons (1998 and 2012). They're 7-2 against Texas in the Big XII. Even under Prince they beat Texas twice. We're a basketball school (nothing wrong with that) and they're a football school.

As to a Snyder successor, this time they'll hire a Snyder protege. Heck, that's what we did when we hired Mangino. They'll hire someone who knows exactly how to do it at K-State (or KU for that matter). Snyder will have a huge say in who the next coach is. They won't make the same mistake twice.

Bottom line: Charlie's right. We shouldn't delude ourselves or deride what they've done. We do want to be like them. And under Charlie I think we can be.

jhawkrulz 1 year, 10 months ago

How many BCS games have they won? I believe that is recent history.

CrystalJones 1 year, 10 months ago

You're kidding, right? I would trade our last 20 years, including our BCS bowl win, for their last 20 years in a heartbeat. BCS? Big deal. Northern Illinois made a BCS game this year.

Bowl wins are an incredibly minor stat in the grand scheme of things. Just getting to a bowl game is icing on the cake. And making a BCS game is a lot of icing on the cake. KSU has been there twice--three times if you include their '97 Fiesta Bowl appearance. Winning one of those bowls is nice, but repeatedly getting there is something I wish we could do.

The "BCS" was just a name change for the old Bowl Alliance to accommodate an eventual national championship game. K-State did win the Fiesta Bowl in the '97 season when it was a member of the Bowl Alliance.

I'm not here to pump K-State...but you look bitter, silly and petty when you try to deny their success over 20 years. Charlie is right -- we should aspire to do what they've done.

texashawk10 1 year, 10 months ago

$cam Newton did not start off at Blinn. He started at Florida and got kicked out of Florida for stealing a laptop and then threw it out the window when police caught him.

jhawkrulz 1 year, 10 months ago

Than Auburn made a hefty donation to Cam's father to help his three struggling churches, but the NCAA was unable to find the payment, although they had Cam's Father on phone records making sure that Ole Miss needed to make a certain donation else another school would.

Norm Jennings 1 year, 10 months ago

looking for a mini-education here...often see noted that some in this crop have 3 years of eligibility, which obviously sounds much better for continuity than 2 years. Is it common to get Juco kids with 3 years of eligibility, or are kids with 2 years of eligibility remaining often the case as well?

HawkTronic 1 year, 10 months ago

Much of that depends on academics. If you are eligible for NCAA competition (academically) out of HS, you can leave JUCO at anytime. If you leave after year 1, you have 4 years to play 3. Or if you redshirt at a JUCO (not common, but some players do it to protect eligibility). you retain 3 years. But if you have poor tests or grades, you need to graduate from JUCO before you transfer (hence some summer arrivals from JUCOs). Generally speaking, you get guys that have two years left, but can transfer anytime.

Ron Prichard 1 year, 10 months ago

I think you have a mix of both, and for many reasons. Juco is a two year program but many times kids go there for a year to improve their academic standing. Once they have done that, they look to a four year program. So, if it takes them one year to get their grades in order and they are physically ready to play, they move to a four year school. Some kids may need both years to improve their academic standing. Some of the kids may go to Juco because they weren't recruited heavily out of high school and need time to mature. Those kids probably play both years at Juco and then only have two years of eligibility remaining. If I had to guess, I would say there are more kids coming out of Juco with only two years of eligibility remaining, but I have no idea how that statement bears out statistically.

Ron Prichard 1 year, 10 months ago

HawkTronic beat me to it, and said it better than I did.

sawman3333 1 year, 10 months ago

(tongue-in-cheek) Can't wait for basketball season to end so football will start!

NikeCortez 1 year, 10 months ago

Its shocking to see a BCS coach wringing hands about how many stars a player has. Shows how off-base Weis is and how far he has to go to compete where it matters... on the field.

Norm Jennings 1 year, 10 months ago

Weis appears to be addressing a misconception of reporters/fans based on the recruiting-ranking services as they apply (or do not apply) to Juco players?

Not sure that constitutes hand-wringing? Maybe something was lost in translation (assuming that you're not just a jerk of course).

Jackster 1 year, 10 months ago

Matt: Can you help explain the "star" football ratings when it comes to recruiting high school kids? I find it very frustrating and extremely inconsistent. For example, 247 may have a kid listed as a 4 star and a top 20 kid nationally for his position, however, if you go to Rivals, Scout, Espn recruiting sites, etc...that same kid may be "Not Nationally Ranked". Or, if he IS listed across multiple sites, his height, weight and 40 time vary significanlty across the board. I now live in SEC country and Tom Lemming, with CBS Sports, seems to be the football recruiting expert. Who should we believe and who is the most reliable source? And, does it really matter to the coaches recruting these guys? (I get the fact that Juco guys don't apply here). Thanks and please Jayhawks....beat OU tomorrow!!!!

jhawkrulz 1 year, 10 months ago

I'll explain the recruiting services ranking, and use KU as example: ESPN wants high ratings and clearly there are kids identified as D-I prospects.

If a kid in basketball is considering KU, Kentucky, UCLA, UNC, Duke, the ranking is increased because those coaches know the players. If they have consideration not from those schools, but other prestigious universities, they get the next tier, and finally if only mid-majors are interested, they fall slightly down. A classic example is Embiid from KU, he was not even ranked, hadn't really played on the circuit, and all of sudden KU was interested, followed by Kentucky and several other D-I, and his stock after he committed to KU to about 30-35 (4-star recruit).

Likewise in football, the Alabama, Ohio St, Florida, OU, USC, and UT are the driving force behind the rankings. If multiple offers are made from this school they are highly ranked, if one, plus other D-I schools are offering they fall into that 4-Star arena, and then as BCS schools are after them, but not aggressively sought by the schools listed above they fall to a 3-Star. There are several examples of kids that are big recruits, but all of sudden one of those schools starts recruiting them, they jump up the boards instanteously. Likewise after the recruiting class is finalize they do their adjustments, and you'll notice the ones that selected the major schools will move up slightly, but the ones that didn't select those will drop slightly.

That's not to say that the 300 people in the national rankings aren't good, what it is saying is depending on who you is recruiting you can and does affect your national ranking.

Another factor that is interesting, is early recruits typically have trends downward, I've always thought that is based on hype, because ESPN wants to do shows and top uncommitted recruits, etc., if the #1 recruit has already committed, it gets boring, (Selby was an excellent example of that). After Harrison committed, Selby moved to #1 because he was the "top" uncommitted recruit and it allowed ESPN to talk more (granted Selby also did awesome in the all-star game, but still the storyline speaks volume).

Just my two cents about the rankings. Until KU becomes consistently good, they won't be ranked high, because the storyline isn't as exciting.

Jackster 1 year, 10 months ago

Thanks Jhawkrulz! So, if my buddy, who has a kid that is a 3 star recruit now (as rated by 247 only....no ranking elsewhere by the "other experts") and is a junior in high school with one season to play ahead of him, and already has 2 SEC offers and 1 Big 10 offer....what should he do? Hold out to build his "stock" through his senior season or jump on the most exciting offer now with the "verbal commitment"? Would that build his rating with the other recruiting services if he has a good season and they see the SEC schools after him? He would prefer to go to KU but is getting no interest so far which is understandable given the JUCO focus by CW.

jhawkrulz 1 year, 10 months ago

I'd build a list of 10 schools and say I'm really discussing my options with my family. I'm looking forward to an exciting senior season. I'm really interested in the offers I have received and they are definitely on my list.

Play well your senior season and you'll probably get offers from all ten schools, especially if there are already 2 SEC offers.

kay_you 1 year, 10 months ago

I heard a football analyst say that what made Bill Snyder so good was his ability to recruit juco players year after year. It is inherently risky to recruit players that will only be with your program for two years. They have a short time to learn your system and if they do not produce you are left with a freshman class to pick up the slack. Given the volume of juco players recruited this year is an indication of just how far we have descended.

Vernon Riggs 1 year, 10 months ago

If you would consider the transfers of Heap and McCay in the recruiting class is even greater.

Terry N Tom Denner 1 year, 10 months ago

last year was an exciting year to watch and see how well the Hawks had gotten on both sides of the ball. Yes they went 1-11 but played several close compared to the season before with Turner Gill. This year is and will be very promising and can and will smack down several teams with conference wins. My prediction is 4-5 conference & 7-5 overall !!! Go Jay Hawks !!!

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