Shortly before his hiring became official in early December, new Kansas University football coach David Beaty spent countless hours watching KU games from the 2014 season and studying the roster he would inherit.
The former Texas A&M; receivers coach and recruiting coordinator reviewed each game multiple times, took notes on the Jayhawks who would be back in 2015 and those who were graduating and tried to get a better feel for which guys on the Kansas roster looked able to compete at the Big 12 level.
Doing so gave Beaty a jump-start on the critical two-week recruiting period that led to the signing of eight mid-year junior-college transfers, many of whom figure to have a chance to impact KU’s roster immediately.
“It was fairly easy,” Beaty said. “And not because I’m smarter than the average guy. When you look at the board, if you know what you’re doing, you look at the numbers first and identify where you have enough numbers to get through a season. The No. 1 thing I was looking for when we started looking at our needs was roster management — getting the depth that we need and still getting the type of players that we need.”
Although adding talent is always important, Beaty consistently has said that college football is a player-development business. Because of that, adding depth, at least initially, seems to be just as important.
“If there are areas where you’re deficient, sometimes you don’t get to say, ‘We’re just gonna go get the best dadgum players,’” Beaty said. “You don’t get to do that. You’ve gotta have the depth.”
According to Beaty, sufficient depth for a program hoping to compete in the Big 12 goes beyond being two-deep at every position.
“The math works itself out, because the goal is to be three deep everywhere,” Beaty said. “If you can do that, you’ve got a chance to make it through the season. I say you’ve got a chance, because, in my opinion, 85 (scholarships is) not enough. It’s really not. You need more scholarships than that.”
Because the scholarship limit is not likely to increase anytime soon, Beaty is focusing on developing a strong walk-on program and being smart with the scholarships he does have in order to create depth.
It’s no small challenge. Sixteen players listed on KU’s two-deep depth chart during the final week of the 2014 season — 10 of them on defense — will not be a part of the 2015 roster. While having so many openings gives Beaty the opportunity to offer immediate playing time to the players he recruits, it also puts a premium on player development and increases the importance of quality depth.
“You might have the best player in the world,” Beaty said. “But if he gets hurt, and there’s air behind him, how are you gonna play the game?”