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Thursday, February 6, 2014

National signing day a smooth affair for KU football

Kansas University football recruiting.

Kansas University football recruiting.

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Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis put the finishing touches on KU’s 2014 recruiting class Wednesday when he received 20 letters of intent in the first several hours of national signing day.

Things went so smoothly for the Jayhawks that all letters were signed, faxed and received by just after noon, leaving very little reason to worry that anything would go awry.

“I’m very pleased with this recruiting class,” Weis said on Wednesday afternoon. “Our staff had to show good patience, and, through hard work, we filled almost every pressing need.”

Unlike last year, when Weis brought in more than 20 junior-college prospects, this year’s class leans more heavily toward younger players, with juco transfers sprinkled in to fill immediate needs and add depth.

“January was a big month and they finished strong,” said JayhawkSlant.com’s Jon Kirby, who has covered Kansas recruiting for more than a decade. “And they did it with upper-end talent from the state of Texas.”

Weis’ third class at KU includes 15 high school prospects, eight junior-college transfers and Div. I transfers T.J. Millweard (UCLA) and Kent Taylor (Florida). Its national ranks — No. 55 according to both Rivals.com and 247Sports.com — are slightly down from last year and put KU’s class in the bottom half of the Big 12 Conference. Despite those rankings, Kirby said the Jayhawks hauled in a solid group.

“When you look back at Kansas’ numbers in the past, based on the successful years they’ve had, the classes that ranked 45-55 were the classes that won the most,” Kirby said. “It comes down to development.”

Because KU is able to count one of the transfers back toward the Class of 2013, Weis and company have one spot remaining in this year’s class. That spot likely will remain vacant unless an offensive tackle or wide receiver — someone who could push to become a starter — became available.

In all, the Class of 2014 includes prospects from nine different states as well as Canada. Texas led the way by delivering 11 new Jayhawks, and Kansas added two in Free State High’s Joe Dineen and Gardner-Edgerton running back Traevohn Wrench.

The Jayhawks’ four four-star recruits, according to the ESPN.com rankings — athlete Corey Avery (Dallas), center Jacob Bragg (Nacogdoches, Texas), linebacker Kyron Watson (East St. Louis, Ill.) and Wrench — marked KU’s most since ESPN began ranking prospects in 2006. Wrench was KU’s only four-star prospect according to Rivals.com.

Because of the winter storm that dropped as much as 14 inches of snow on Lawrence in a 24-hour period, Weis moved his 1 p.m. Wednesday signing day news conference to 1 p.m. today.


High School

Corey Avery, RB/WR, 5-10, 170, Dallas, Carter High

Matthew Boateng, DB, 5-11, 175, Bradenton, Fla., IMG Academy

Jacob Bragg, OL, 6-4, 305, Nacogdoches, Texas, Nacogdoches High

Darious Crawley, WR, 5-11, 183, Houston, Cypress Ridge High

Joe Dineen, DB, 6-2, 208, Lawrence, Free State High

Josh Ehambe, LB, 6-5, 232, Arlington, Texas, Prime Prep Academy

Bobby Hartzog, WR, 5-11, 180, Houston, Westside High

Lay’Trion Jones, DT, 6-3, 297, Garland, Texas, Garland High

Derrick Neal, WR, 5-10, 155, Dallas, Lincoln High

Tyler Patrick, WR, 6-0, 170, The Woodlands, Texas, The Woodlands

Apa Visinia, OL, 6-4, 380, Grandview, Mo., Grandview High

Kyron Watson, LB, 6-0, 220, East St. Louis, Ill., East St. Louis High

D.J. Williams, DT, 6-5, 288, Lufkin, Texas, Lufkin High

Daniel Wise, DE, 6-3, 241, Lewisville, Texas, Hebron High

Traevohn Wrench, RB, 6-0, 190, Gardner, Gardner-Edgerton High

Junior College

Ronnie Davis, DB, 6-0, 180, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M

Kapil Fletcher, DE, 6-3, 261, Hartnell Community College

Keyon Haughton, OL, 6-2, 309, Georgia Military College

De’Andre Mann, RB, 5-10, 205, Hartnell C.C.

Damani Mosby, DE, 6-3, 228, Mesa C.C.

Anthony Olobia, DE, 6-5, 241, Arizona Western

Anthony “Fish” Smithson, DB, 5-11, 185, Hartnell C.C.

Devon Williams, OL, 6-4, 340, Georgia Military College

Div. I Transfers

T.J. Millweard, QB, 6-3, 210, Colleyville, Texas (UCLA)

Kent Taylor, TE, 6-5, 223, Land O’ Lakes, Fla. (University of Florida)

Comments

Brett McCabe 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Not too much to get excited about here. The class, luckily, got stronger at the end but we only ended up out-recruiting one other Big 12 school. That's not good enough to turn around a program and it's not good enough for the third year of this regime. Simply put, it's just not good enough.

The myth of player development is just one way to try and put lipstick on a pig. Every coach in the conference develops players and every coach in the conference, except one, is going to start out with a higher baseline than us. Too much money is being pumped into this program to be happy with these types of results.

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Jim Jackson 6 months, 3 weeks ago

We've won 6 games in the past 3 seasons, what were you expecting? A class like OU?

Very pleased with what the staff was able to bring in. With guys we redshirted last year, I expect a big improvement this year.

Those overall rankings do not include the addition of Millweard & Kent Taylor, FYI.

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Terry N Tom Denner 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Lipstick on a pig ?? Really !! Research Bill Snyder's way he developed all his 2 and 3 star players. If any of the money is coming straight from your pocket then yes you have a right to cry but if not wipe away your tears and grow a pair.

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Jeff Suther 6 months, 3 weeks ago

If you go by espn rankings we beat ksu and isu in rankings and were 4 off of TCU, not sure how you could expect more than that with everyone of our last 5 years being an embarrassment.

Let's hope you are wrong about player development. KU will never complete in recruiting class rankings with the upper half of the big 12. I will remind you that when we were getting competitive with Mangino it was with classes just like this. Only explanation we were better is coaching. Also, Brett, Bill Snyder proves your theory wrong about player development every year. If you look at class rankings they are behind us almost every year but beat us by about 40 when it's on the field. How do you explain that?

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Lucas Town 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Player development is huge, I saw a quote from Bill Snyder yesterday about his recruiting class for this year and it was dead on. He said that it will be 2 or 3 years befor we (KSU) know if we have accurately assessed this class. I think there are a lot, not all, but a lot of fans that think this class of Weis' will come right in and make a huge impact this season and that is not realistic. Bill Sydner doesn't care how many stars you have. If you fit his system he wants you. Weis doesn't appear to be able to win without the stars. Some of these kids we will see this year, but how much of an impact will they make? Sims, Heeney, Pierson and guys like this are good because they are good. I haven't seen Weis develope any kind of talent as of yet. Especially with the lack of discipline we showed on the field most of last year. So we will see about this recruiting class in a couple of years. We just have to keep working.

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Brett McCabe 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Snyder is an anomaly and should never be used as a comparison. He's a one-off who has done things that very few coaches in the history of football have ever done.

It's best to compare against typical programs and, typically, next-to-last place recruiting classes don't substantially out-perform their initial rankings. That is a hard cold fact.

Are there exceptions? Yes. Is there anything about the current staff at KU that would suggest that they will be exceptional - even though they can't recruit?

You build a program one step at a time. That's how successful programs do it. Those steps must be taken every year and the first, most critical step is to move yourself up in the recruiting rankings. Are we to make excuses for millionaire coaches who can't get us to, say, a number-7 recruiting class in the conference?

We've already killed ourselves with ridiculous non-con scheduling additions - so we've made it harder for ourselves. Now, we've under-performed on the recruiting trail.

I know that I sound like a downer, but the expectations for this program need to be raised significantly and the excuses need to stop. Look around and you will see that it can be done (Louisville, Missouri, Cinci, etc.). But the first step is to stop making excuses. The hunt for KU's next coach should probably begin now.

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Lucas Town 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Brett, I couldn't agree more with you. I use Snyder because from day one Weis walked in and said what are they doing different in Manhattan, and has attempted to use that model to rebuild our program. I am sure that the search for a new coach will begin after this season if there isn't a significant increase in the win column. But Weis will be here for the duration of his contract. What should we reasonably expect as far as wins? We have 25 seniors and 25 juniors on the roster. most of these guys will be in their 3rd year in the system. We will be lucky to win 4 games with this years schedule. SE Missouri State, Central Michigan, @ West Virginia is a ?, TCU is a ?, I look at the overall landscape of the Big 12 and just cannot believe how difficult it will be to win very many games.

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Terry N Tom Denner 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I will use Coach Snyder as my point of view. It took him 3 to 5 years to build a team out of the KST Wild Cats. So for the hell of it give Charlie some slack. Charlies first year was a total flop. But what did he have to work with. Tuner Giles BS that is what. Second year looked more promising but fell short because of what Turner Gile did to the program. This year looks a whole lot better as far as recruits coming in. I see a 6-6 or 7-5 season ahead for the 2014 year.

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Michael Maris 6 months, 3 weeks ago

http://247sports.com/Season/2014-Football/CompositeCoachRankings

The link above explains a lot of the reasons that Jayhawk Football continues to struggle in getting the types of players we Jayhawk Football Fans dream of and wish for.

Reggie Mitchell (who I would not trade at all), is the highest ranking Jayhawk Assistant Football Coach in the link. David Beatty is ranked #48. Darrell Wyatt (former Assistant that left for Texas a few years ago) is ranked (and he's no longer with the U. of Texas-Austin Football Program) at #109. Ed Warinner is ranked #17.

I'm good friends with an Ohio State Fan (back in Ohio), and they absolutely love Warinner and were so glad that Warinner did not get the Army job.

Does it help that these former assistants are at traditional football programs (vs. traditional basketball programs)? Yeah, I believe that helps out a lot. But, recruiters are recruiters. In my opinion, KU has 1 legitimate Recruiter on Staff (who has more than 10 years of recruiting at the NCAA Level). Reggie Mitchell is that guy. Rob Ianello comes in at #259, and he's the Recruiting Coordinator for the Jayhawks Football program.

I do feel like Jeff Blasko is a rising star in the Recruiting world though. And, I hope that new OL Coach / OC John Reagan will become more of a force in the State of Texas (now that he's back with the program). Reagan's time in Texas (at Rice) hopefully will open new recruiting doors for the Jayhawks football program as Reagan built new relationships with Texas High School Football Coaches in these past few years.

So, if the Jayhawks are going to bring in more 4 star ranked players, Then, the hiring of Assistant Coaches are going to have to change and bring in better Assistants that are Home Run Recruiters. Even, Okie State figured that out a few seasons ago, when they hired Trooper Taylor (who was responsible for recruiting the WR's that Okie State had for a few seasons). By the way, Trooper Taylor and Darrell Wyatt both have WR Assistant Coaching Experience and are both available. Just some food for thoughts.

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David Williams 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Re "search for a new coach now," he may already be on staff...if Reagan can produce on offense in 2014 it may be his if he wants it (think that was not part of the thinking at least on his part to leave Rice and return to KU?). Some of this depends on Ws as well, of course.

Re assistants, recall that Weis indicated that when asked about staff changes, he responded with "focus is on recruiting". Recruiting is now completed; let's see what happens on the staff. It would be great to get Wyatt back in Lawrence.

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Jim Stauffer 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Wow! That's all I can say. The only way you guys have of evaluating a class is by the Team Rankings of Rivals? Well, then why should anyone have played last year. "Bama has had the highest ranking in recruiting now for 3 years in a row and lost their opportunity to play for the NC by losing to a team with a first year coach who was trying to rebuild a program devastated by the loss of Cam Newton and the failures of the fired HC.

Teams do not automatically finish their playing results according to the rankings of Rivals. College coaches who can evaluate players and develop them determine the W's and L's.

Now you guys are on record as saying Weis and staff cannot evaluate and develop. This is his third year and 5 years is the benchmark for turnarounds (in spite of what Auburn has done) so we will see over the next three seasons whether this staff can evaluate an develop players into a team or not.

Do not saddle this staff with the poor results they have had due to the previous regime. Now the program is out of the mire, we can begin to see some progress.

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Dave Roberts 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Right on Jim. Folks who look at the "stars" and think that a class is good or bad based on them have no idea what they are talking about. Aqib Talib was a 2 star recruit and yet he's the best NFL player to come out of the KU program for years.

Take your heads out of the sand and really study the players we are recruiting and why we need them - then you'd understand why and where the KU football program is going.

Dave

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Ryan Shelton 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Please advise: Do these rankings (Rivals, 247, ESPN) take into account our JuCo or D1 transfers? I see on rivals that we have a total of 23 recruits but we have 25 new players listed above. Does it not take into account our 2 D1 transfers? Are the almighty "stars" attached to the JuCo transfers, or just high school kids? If it takes into account the JuCo transfers, are the stars from their high school rankings, or what they have earned while in the college ranks? And if they are college stars, how do college stars compare with high school stars? Is there a curve? A different rubric used? If they represent the JuCo players' high school stars, then might these players have grown since?

So many questions, a complete lack of scientific proof, yet some of us are ready to jump off the bridge? Yup, it must be a boring day in the middle of winter.

People could look at the magical numbers created by the star ranking formulas based off of "experts" who may or may not know what they are talking about, and base opinions on how good our program will be on the field next year and the years to come (despite that our opinions are fairly uneducated--at least less educated than the experts' opinions, a frightful conclusion!)

No matter how you look at it, this is a fodder only worthy of water cooler talk. Let's let our newcomers do their talking on the field where it counts.

One other factor that nobody remembers when spitting vinegar is that Coach Weis has redshirted some pretty good players who have been working in a good weight training system. And don't forget that we have Miami (OH's) most accomplished receiver lining up out wide next season and a bevy of accomplished returners. I say we take another step forward next year...

but what do I know?

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Erich Hartmann 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Newsflash: Only the gridiron results matter. 25juniors, 25seniors-- in-system x 2yrs. Lets wait and see the season.

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