Newly hired Kansas University football coach David Beaty has received a lot of praise for his early run of success on the recruiting trail that landed eight mid-year junior-college transfers on Wednesday.
But Beaty is the last one who’s actually taking any of the credit.
“Reggie Mitchell is everything he is advertised to be in terms of building relationships and recruiting,” Beaty said Thursday in an interview with the Journal-World. “He and Clint Bowen, those guys have done a super job. Not good, I mean a great job. I’m talking about hustling now.”
From Baltimore to Chicago to a dozen places in Texas and several stops in between, Beaty, Bowen and Mitchell used the final week of the open recruiting period to address some of the team’s most important needs through the junior-college ranks. The result of little sleep and even less family time was a haul that Beaty said was “a little bit better” than he expected, and, again, he credited Bowen and Mitchell for holding the group together while Kansas operated without a full-time head coach.
“I’m not sure that I could’ve done near this without Clint and Reggie,” Beaty said. “Those guys are the guys who deserve the credit for this. I’m the head coach and I get way too much praise when things go good and it shouldn’t be that way. Those guys are the boots on the ground, and they did a hell of a job.”
KU’s mid-year transfer class included three offensive linemen (D’Andre Banks, Jayson Rhodes and Will Smith), three defensive backs (Bazie Bates, M.J. Mathis and Brandon Stewart), one defensive lineman (Jacky Dezir) and one running back (Ke’aun Kinner). On Thursday, Kinner was named the national junior college offensive player of the year, but Beaty said all eight players were guys he expected to make an early impact.
“When you take a junior-college kid, you have to know that he is going to be able to compete for a starting job,” Beaty said. “And all these guys that we have here, based on the people we have on our team, they all fit that mold. They will have a chance to come in and compete for a starting job. That’s the only thing we’ll promise to anyone.”
Beaty has talked often about the importance of building relationships and finding the right players who fit the system, but he said what he and his staff got done this week would not have been possible had it not been for the timing of his hiring.
“My hat’s off to our administration,” Beaty said. “I think they knew the urgency and they had the (head coaching candidates) that they needed to choose from in place. And they knew to be able to give that guy the opportunity to close the open period strong, they needed to give him a few days.”
Beaty got that time and he did not waste a second of it.
“We tried to pack about 30 days of work into about four days,” he said without gloating. “That was a very big challenge, but to be able to come away from it having met some of our biggest needs is a great thing.”
Because so much of his early stint as KU’s head football coach has been spent on recruiting, Beaty has had little time for any other aspects of the job. He has become familiar enough with his new role, though, to know he appreciates it even more than he ever dreamed he would.
“The worst part of it has been better than any day I’ve ever had coaching,” he said. “Not a whole lot of sleep, but it’s because I don’t want to miss a second. There’s things that we’ve gotta get done, but it’s not like you’ve got to get ’em done, you get to get ’em done.
“Every day when I do that front-handspring out of bed, I scream that I’m the head football coach at Kansas and what a great opportunity that is.”
Although the eight mid-year guys made their commitments official on Wednesday, there’s still plenty of work to be done before the Feb. 4 national signing day. Beaty said the Jayhawks could still be in the market for a cornerback or two, a linebacker, possibly a quarterback and a couple of more offensive linemen.
KU’s 2015 recruiting class currently ranks 50th nationally, according to Rivals.com, which puts it ahead of Big 12 foes Oklahoma State (51), Baylor (52), Kansas State (61) and Iowa State (70). A large percentage of that rankings system, however, is based on total number of commitments. KU currently has 20 — with room for five more — and those other programs have 15 or fewer.
The identity of the rest of the new KU coaching staff, which Beaty said Thursday he was close to finalizing, remains a mystery, but Beaty reiterated that he had identified most of the guys he hoped to hire and was simply waiting for the appropriate timing.
“The people that I’m interested in, they’re really, really good in this business,” he said. “And a lot of them are still playing. So I’m gonna respect that.”
Only Bowen, Mitchell and Louie Matsakis were kept from the previous staff.
Beaty plans to spend the rest of the week tying up loose ends around the office and then will focus a good chunk of the winter break — which includes a recruiting dead period — reconnecting with his wife, Raynee, and their daughters Averie and Alexa.
“I’ve got two little beautiful girls that I haven’t seen in a while and I’ve been busting my butt and haven’t been able to talk to them,” Beaty said. “So we’re gonna finish up this week and then we’re gonna go take some time for family and to celebrate the holidays and know the reason for the season and pause for that and then get ready to go again.”