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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Charlie Weis’ latest recruiting class shows shift

Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis glances as a framed KU jersey in memory of Andre Maloney, a Shawnee Mission West senior who had orally committed to Kansas before he suffered a stroke and died in a game this past October.

Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis glances as a framed KU jersey in memory of Andre Maloney, a Shawnee Mission West senior who had orally committed to Kansas before he suffered a stroke and died in a game this past October.

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Richard Gwin

Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis glances as a framed KU jersey in memory of Andre Maloney, a Shawnee Mission West senior who had orally committed to Kansas before he suffered a stroke and died in a game this past October.

The piles of snow around Lawrence might have delayed Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis from discussing his latest recruiting class with the media, but they did nothing to cool off Weis’ excitement about the 25-member class that became official Wednesday, when the final 20 players in KU’s Class of 2014 faxed their letters to campus.

In bringing in a class that ranks between 47th and 55th nationally and features 15 high school athletes, eight junior-college transfers and two Division-I transfers, Weis on Thursday revealed a blueprint for building his program that is more traditional than what was seen during his first two classes at Kansas.

Last year, because the Jayhawks had so many “holes,” as Weis called them, the coaching staff attempted to fill the open spots with junior-college players ready to hit the field immediately. This year, the focus shifted from plugging holes to preparing for the future.

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“We have to set the program up for success,” Weis said. “And I think that’s what we did with this class. This class is the way we want to recruit: (Get) a handful of juco players that can play right away, bring in a bunch of high school kids, and whenever they are ready to play, play ’em.”

Weis did not divulge which players he thought had the most potential or the best chance to play immediately but hinted at answers to each and talked glowingly about the players he signed.

Weis said wide receiver and defensive line stood to get the biggest boosts from this class. Even though the two positions are distinctly different, the five wideouts and six defensive linemen who signed in this class have a few of the same strengths.

“I think size is important,” Weis said. “But speed and athleticism is more important, in this league especially. You can’t have enough athletic guys. Every coach in America is telling you how much they love their class, but we needed this class.”

Maloney remembered

Shawnee Mission West defensive back Andre Maloney, who died after collapsing on the field last October, had a presence at Weis’ signing-day news conference.

At the wake, Weis promised Maloney’s mother that he would introduce him and show his highlight film on signing day just like he did with all of the others. Sure enough, after going through all of the guys who signed Wednesday, Weis showed the film and turned his chair around to watch.

“Who knows what would’ve happened,” said Weis, who revealed a framed No. 29 jersey with Maloney’s name on it that would go to his family. “The sky would’ve been the limit for this kid. And I just want Andre’s family to know that everyone in the KU family has them and him in our thoughts and prayers.”

Big programs lurking?

Athlete Corey Avery picked Kansas over Texas and Nebraska. Wide receiver Darious Crawley picked KU over Michigan State. And a half dozen others had similar schools sending them offers. But one player, Arizona Western defensive end Anthony Olobia, who ranked as the No. 2 juco D-end in the country, drew the biggest interest all the way down to the last minute.

“He had some big-time schools involved with him,” Weis said of the 6-foot-5, 241-pound pass rusher, “including one of the two teams in the national championship game that was still trying to get a piece of him even (Wednesday).”

RB depth lives on

Even with James Sims graduating, the Jayhawks still have quality depth in their backfield, with Brandon Bourbon, Taylor Cox, Darrian Miller and Tony Pierson returning for 2014.

Although it wasn’t necessarily the plan from the start, the position grew deeper with the recent recruiting class, as the Jayhawks added four-star Gardner-Edgerton running back Traevohn Wrench and No. 1-ranked juco back De’Andre Mann.

Weis said he believed Wrench had the potential to become a star. As for Mann, who was first discovered by quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus, Weis said he simply was too talented to pass up.

“I really didn’t intend to take a junior-college running back,” Weis said. “I kept on looking to shoot holes in (his film), and there weren’t any holes to shoot. ... He’s coming in here to try to beat everybody out, and that’s what I really liked about this kid.”

More on Millweard

Quarterback T.J. Millweard, who transferred to KU from UCLA last summer and had to sit out the 2013 season, is a part of the 2014 recruiting class and will get a shot to prove he’s the right guy to lead the Kansas offense.

“He will be in the mix here in the spring,” Weis said of the 6-3, 210-pound sophomore who ranked as the 23rd-best pro-style QB in his high school class. “Throw him in the race.”

Dates to remember

Spring practices begin March 4, and the annual spring game is set for 1 p.m., April 12 at Memorial Stadium.

Comments

Charlie B. Gonesoon 9 months, 2 weeks ago

...."This class is the way we want to recruit: (Get) a handful of juco players that can play right away, bring in a bunch of high school kids, and whenever they are ready to play, play ’em.”

Coach, let's have a clear cut development plan for these kids. Statements like this make me wonder if there's really an understanding here of how a college program is put together. Also great to see that we're in year 3 of the "Great Quarterback Transfer Hype". Sorry Zenger, no WEF money this year!

Glen Miller 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Sounded like he just told you his plan to me. What part of whenever they are ready to play, play them do you not get? That tells me that they are looking to develop these kids coming in and play them when they can contribute. You guys all pissed and moaned when we picked up too many transfers and Juco players last year. Now you are pissing and moaning about getting high school kids. Some of you will just never be satisfied and be a bunch of negative nancys. We aren't going to become National Champions with one good recruting class. This is a solid class with 4 star and 3 star talent all over. That's what you have to do when you aren't OU, Texas or someone like that in the big 12. We'll see what happens, but I happen to like this class and would be good with more like it.

W Keith Swinehart II 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Gonesoon, if that's your name, you sound like a tired, worried whistle blower... a sad-sack with lots to criticize, but no solutions to offer. Anyway, Coach Weis has talked about his development plan for the past two years. You just haven't listened, just like you didn't listen to the football recruiting day presser that is available in it's 66 minute entirety on this site. I doubt if Zenger is worried about not getting your WEF money this year because he didn't get it last year, or the year before that. By the way, WEF supports all athletics, not just football.

David A. Smith 9 months, 2 weeks ago

The alias has got to go, man. Its a little more than ironic that you would like some sort of improvement on the recruiting front, while you post uninformed and unduly harsh critiques of our coach under such an offensive alias. Don't you think potential recruits and current players read these boards? Fans don't do that. Superbowl rings don't lie- and certainly don't point to ineptitude!

Jason Keller 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Those juco tackles never even had a chance against this dude. In my opinion, he is by far the best player in this class. A pass rusher like him could change everything.

Jim Stauffer 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Charlie should change his name to Notgonesoonenough as far as I am concerned. This is a great class for a team that won 3 games last year and will have experts picking them to win a max of 4 this year.

Each year it will be difficult to select another program we have passed in this league. I really believe we have passed ISU for sure. We may be ready to be competitive with TCU, KSU and WVU, but it will take some time to pass any of those programs.

Our record will depend on us winning 2 games per year in conference plus one upset until we have eclipsed at least the next three on the list, KSU, WVU and TCU.

We should beat one of those three teams along with ISU each year until we surpass them and then we can beat them consistently and when we do we will remember this class as the turning point.

Al Martin 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I'd like to believe you about ISU, but that 34-0 pasting makes me extremely skeptical that one recruiting class could make that huge a difference.

Hope you're right, though.

Mark Lindrud 9 months, 2 weeks ago

We have a lot of seniors and guys who have been in the program over two years now. No more excuses on building the program. This year we need to make headway in the win column. Last year there were minimal signs of improvement and now the improvement needs to produce wins. We shall see what happens, but it is safe to say more depth is here, but all the talk needs to come through this next year.

Matt Tait 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Well said. I think that's the way most people see it.

Aaron Paisley 9 months, 2 weeks ago

KU has 3 conference wins in the past 5 years and hasn't beaten ISU since Mangino was still here, I'm sorry but KU has not passed anybody in the league yet. If they beat West Virginia again this year in Morgantown, then a legitimate case could be made that KU is ahead of WVU, but right now KU is still at the bottom of the pecking order in the Big 12.

Brett McCabe 9 months, 2 weeks ago

And that will not happen. Though I've been blasted for being Donnie Downer, the improvement we need to see first is on the recruiting trail. And that is not happening.

What I will definitely give CW credit for is the fact that the program is organized, cleaned up and professional. Maybe Reagan works some sort of magic this year and I get optimistic again, but I think that we'll have a new head coach in 2015.

Tony Bandle 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Oh my..another transfer quarterback candidate. It does appear that the hype is very low key which is a good thing. Our recent track record with our transfer QB's doesn't lend itself to a lot of "over-confidence" but I feel KU is getting stronger and I wish the best for this kid.

We're like a swimmer swimming against the tide. we may be moving slowly but the tide is strong..yet we're still afloat and moving forward so there's hope.

Does 6-6 look like a possibility next season??

Mark Lindrud 9 months, 2 weeks ago

No hype bout this kid, but added competition.this year no one on offense, but Harwell deserves hype.

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