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Saturday, January 4, 2014

KU football recruiting heavy on DBs

Kansas University football recruiting.

Kansas University football recruiting.

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So far, the Class of 2014 for Kansas University’s football program has a serious secondary flavor to it.

Four of the 13 players who have signed or given oral commitments to the Jayhawks are defensive backs. Only the offensive line accounts for as many in the class thus far.

KU coach Charlie Weis, who spoke with the media last week to wrap up the 2013 season and look ahead to what’s next, said the overload on DBs was not by accident.

“We’ve had time to do our due diligence and say, ‘OK, going forward here, what were our issues and what are the simplest answers?’” Weis said.

One of the issues — as is the case for everyone in the Big 12 Conference — is finding a way to slow down opposing passing attacks. The Jayhawks gave up nearly 250 yards passing per game and 20 total passing touchdowns to opponents during 2013, a slight improvement from the 2012 numbers — but still not a good enough showing to compete comfortably in the wide-open Big 12.

“When teams are playing three and four wide receivers, you have to get more DBs on the field,” Weis said. “And what we wanted to do was, we wanted to build up our depth in the secondary.”

Doing that becomes necessary because the Jayhawks also are tinkering with the idea of getting smaller but faster at some of the linebacker positions.

“For example, (junior) Victor Simmons, who played our star position or the Sam linebacker, he might end up flipping over to the other side and being a Buck next year,” Weis said, “so that we can get another DB on the field.”

Simmons, who played this season at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, is significantly shorter and lighter than the Bucks who played for the Jayhawks this season. Ben Goodman (6-3, 245) and Michael Reynolds (6-1, 240) rotated at the position throughout 2013 and had productive seasons. But with matching up with smaller, quicker play-makers becoming a priority, it’s likely the Jayhawks will consider going with speed over size at the positions that play in space on a consistent basis.

“I think that you have to get more DBs on the field because (if you don’t) you could get mismatched personnel-wise,” Weis said. “Schematically, you could be in good shape, but personnel-wise you could get exploited some.”

Junior-college defensive backs Ronnie Davis (6-1, 170) and Anthony Smithson (6-0, 180) signed letters of intent with Kansas last week. Both are expected to report to campus in January. In addition, the class includes high school prospects Matthew Boateng (6-0, 180, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.) and Joe Dineen (6-2, 197, Free State High).

“Those are just what we’re bringing in right now,” he said, speaking of the commitments generally and not by name. “We need to bring in some more depth even yet because if you look at all the teams that are playing four-wide and three-wide on all these plays, you need to be able to match up and get personnel out there that can go ahead and play with them.”

Comments

Brett McCabe 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Special teams are 1/3 of the game - except when coaches handle recruiting and scholarships.

A good head coach would heavily pursue a top kicker and punter every single year until he had good starters starters in place, and then alternate every other year. Few coaches respect this position until it costs them a game or a championship.

Dirk Medema 11 months, 3 weeks ago

1/3 if you are taking a very simplistic view. If you consider number of plays, yardage, points, ..., it is evident that kicker/punters are much less than 1/3 of game. ST are also more than just the K/P, and these positions are filled by scholarship players that are regularly recruited. In our case, Kevin Short is supposed to provide a great benefit to ST returning kicks this year. Last year, Jacorey Shepherd provided a nice boost in that category as well. Both are scholarship players. Fortunately, our P was among the best in the nation for much of the year as well. Still need improvement K, though you can't fault the staff for not trying to bring in options. Wasn't the Baylor K?P originally committed to KU.

Brett McCabe 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Your statements highlight almost perfectly the problem.

The leading scorer on almost every team, almost every year is the kicker, so the points go to the kicker. Who accounts for more yardage in terms of field position changes than a punter? Number of plays is not as dramatic as it seems, though today's offenses certainly have changed the dynamics. Add in kicks, PAT's and punts, and these positions are on the field pretty regularly.

And, I fault the staff exclusively for not having a kicker in place. Who else's fault would it be? Please don't tell me about players backing out...it happens all the time at every position. It's the staff's job to fill the holes. No one else.

I'm not asking for 1/3 of the scholarships, just one-tenth until you are solid (as we are with Pardula) and then filling the spots as needed. This is a position that you can easily put in the "covered" column if you go about it aggressively.

Scott Burkhart 11 months, 3 weeks ago

When you go shopping, you buy your staples first.

Mark Lindrud 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I hope we bring in more lineman on both sides and another wr.

Brandon Mahon 11 months, 3 weeks ago

We really need WRs. We have good depth at RB, TE, and will have competition at QB, good depth at DB and LB. We need to focus on the OL,DL, and WR. We have 3 commits that are OL and a bunch of returning guys. We have one two WR committed, but i think we need to land a solid DL and WR. There is still a lot of time and we can take another 12-13 guys. We will just have to wait and see.

Mark Lindrud 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I'd be happy with another juco player and hs player of each. Get some experience and some youth to develop.. I also think another hs rb for depth because after next year Pierson, Bourbon and Cox are gone.

Brett McCabe 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I won't be surprised if Tony never suits again. As much as I love watching him play, he's always been skittish about contact and now I wonder if he will really want to risk it next year.

Titus Canby 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree. When he went out the last time, I was thinking that may be the last we see of him. Too many hits to the head is scary stuff - I've seen it first hand.

Jim Jackson 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Pierson is playing, been cleared. I believe he will be a full time wide out

Al Martin 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm with you, Brandon. The lines and receivers were huge weaknesses this year. That's where I would have expected the recruiting emphasis would be. But there's time and scholarships yet to be given, so all hopefully will be addressed.

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