In the typically cut-throat world of college football recruiting, where coaches often hand out more scholarship offers than they have to give and occasionally pull them at the last minute, Kansas University recently made a gesture that is almost unheard-of with one of its prospects in the Class of 2014.
With junior-college safety Anthony Smithson suddenly coming available after his ties to Utah broke down, KU coach Charlie Weis and the Jayhawks acted quickly to get involved with the 5-foot-11, 185-pound defensive back from Hartnell College in California.
Smithson was interested immediately, but there was one small problem: The Jayhawks already had a commitment from Free State High safety Joe Dineen and had told him they planned to take only one player at his position.
That’s when Weis and defensive coordinator Clint Bowen made a phone call that further cemented Dineen’s belief that he made the right choice when committing to Kansas.
“Coach Bowen called me, and he just pretty much said, ‘There’s a juco safety that’s pretty good, and we think he can help us, and we wanted to make sure it’d be OK with you if we offered him,’” Dineen recalled. “I mean, I said yeah. If he can help the team get to where we want to be, we could use all the talent we could get.”
Dineen said the decision was a no-brainer, and he gave the KU coaches his blessing on the spot. After they hung up, the Free State senior who was named the Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year began to think about what had just happened.
“It showed how much they want me, which means a lot,” Dineen said. “With coach Weis being as decorated as he is, I thought it was kind of cool that they were allowing me to have some input on that. To know that the coaches have my back like that is pretty awesome.”
Dineen has more than a few decorations of his own, though he credits others for his success.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said of the Gatorade honor as well as being named all-state and all-area. “But I know I couldn’t have done it without the team I had. All the credit goes to them. Coach put me in position to make plays, and I had guys who helped me.”
One thing that likely made the decision to sign off on Smithson easy for Dineen is the versatility Dineen figures to bring to the KU program. Although he played quarterback and defensive back for the Firebirds this season, it’s possible a move to linebacker could be in his future.
“I think it really just depends on how much weight I put on,” the 6-foot-1, 197-pound athlete said. “That’s what they said, at least. If I can get to 230-235, I might bump down to linebacker. If I stay closer to where I’m at right now, I’ll probably play safety. It doesn’t matter to me either way. I just want to play.”
Dineen is one of 14 players in the Class of 2014 currently committed to Kansas, which can sign up to 26 in this year’s class.
Juco prospects Smithson, cornerback Ronnie Davis and offensive lineman Keyon Haughton signed with Kansas on Dec. 18 and will report to campus this month. Those players not reporting early will be eligible to sign on national signing day, Feb. 5.