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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

Terry N Tom Denner 1 year, 2 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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Vernon Riggs 1 year, 2 months ago

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

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kay_you 1 year, 2 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.

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Jackster 1 year, 2 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.

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jhawkrulz 1 year, 2 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.

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Jackster 1 year, 2 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!!!!

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Norm Jennings 1 year, 2 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).

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Keith Hummel 1 year, 2 months ago

Great job by Weis and his staff. With decent quarterback and receiver play, and even a mediocre kicking game, we easily could have won 3-4 more games last year. By all accounts we have that plus a completely revamped defense this year. An improved pass rush and the ability to play dime coverage should result in a lot more 3rd down stops. And when you add the new LB's to Heeney and Love, there is every reason to believe we will be tough against the run. That could mean we no longer have to play the ball control game on offense, which opens up more big play possibilities. So the biggest questions in my mind are with the offense. Will Heaps, McCay and this new crop of receivers be able to stretch the field? Will teams continue to stack the box against the run? Will this revamped O-Line be able to give Heaps time, and will they run-block as well as last years line? Will we finally get some receiving production out of the tight ends? Will Heaps be able to hit someone on a crossing route? Will one of these kickers produce at game-time, or will we face more disappointment? Lots of unknowns unfortunately, but lots to get excited about as well. Should be fun to watch.

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NikeCortez 1 year, 2 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.

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sawman3333 1 year, 2 months ago

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

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Norm Jennings 1 year, 2 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?

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James Naismith 1 year, 2 months ago

Cam Newton, Mike Rozier, Aaron Rogers, many others started off in JUCO's.

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JakeBarnes 1 year, 2 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.

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bradh 1 year, 2 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.

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NebraskaJayhawk 1 year, 2 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.

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Michael Sillman 1 year, 2 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?

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