Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Tom Keegan: Quarterback named Peyton potential answer to KU’s prayers


So far, all nine Kansas football games have been started by graduates of the same Kansas high school, Bishop Miege. Montell Cozart has started seven, Ryan Willis two.

Next season, it’s more likely one or two athletes from the same warmer, even sunnier state, will stand in shotgun formation to breathe life into an offense that hasn’t looked right since 2009.

The state is Florida and I know what you’re thinking: The first quarterback is Carter Stanley, who on Saturday in Morgantown, W.V., looked to have the most natural feel for the position of anyone Kansas has tried so far this season. Sure, Stanley, a redshirt freshman who graduated from a Florida high school, Vero Beach, is a candidate. But another QB from the sunshine state on KU's recruiting radar might prove an even better 2017 fit, although there is no point in starting anybody but Stanley for Saturday’s 11 a.m. kickoff at Memorial Stadium vs. Iowa State. He earned it.

The Floridian to whom I refer plays quarterback for a school in Mississippi, but not Ole Miss, where father-and-son combo Archie and Eli Manning became legends. Instead, he plays for a junior college, and his closest Manning connection is that his first name is Peyton. Before revealing his last name, let me tell you why I have a hunch he could make his way to Lawrence and maybe even have a big hand in returning smiles to the faces in the stands at Memorial Stadium for the first time in what seems like years because it has been years.

David Beaty is wedded to the Air Raid offense. Peyton Bender, a third-year sophomore at Itawamba Community College in Fulton, Miss., ran the Air Raid at Cardinal Gibbons High in Fort Lauderdale, spent two seasons learning Mike Leach’s Air Raid at Washington State, participated in spring football, 2016, then transferred to Itawamba, where you guessed it, he triggered an Air Raid offense. He's on pace to graduate in December.

Listed at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Bender is a pro-style quarterback who coming out of high school turned down a scholarship offer from Penn State.

Fans of the (with good reason) immensely popular Netflix documentary “Last Chance U,” are familiar with the school against which Bender had his most prolific game. No doubt freaking out East Mississippi College head coach Buddy Stephens, Bender completed 39 of 59 passes for 566 yards and three touchdowns in Itawamba's 44-42 loss.

"He's a good fit for anybody who runs an Air Raid, whether it be anybody from Washington State to Cal to Kansas," Itawamba offensive coordinator Nick Coleman said by phone. Coleman, by the way, counts KU assistant Rob Likens as a close friend. "He can throw it now. He can spin it. He's good."

The more Coleman talked the more Bender sounded like exactly what Kansas needs.

"The thing that Peyton does so well is he sits in the pocket and doesn't freak out," Coleman said. "He just has that knack for staying in there until the last second and delivering the ball."

Another perfect-fit quality: Beaty loves throwing what coaches refer to as "field throws," from the hash on one side of the field to the numbers on the other.

"A lot of quarterbacks are scared to make those field throws," Coleman said. "Peyton's not scared. He can make those throws."

Bender threw 21 touchdown passes, four interceptions and was sacked once for Itawamba (5-4). Something tells me Kansas can land him. Steven Sims, Daylon Charlot and LaQuvionte Gonzalez are attractive targets for a quarterback shopping for a home. So is an open starting job.


Andy Godwin 1 year, 5 months ago

Tom can you provide some info regarding why Willis has fallen completely out of favor with Beaty? Last year he looked promising and was willing to stand in the pocket and take a hit while delivering an accurate pass. At times this year he has look good (better than Cozart on his best day), but appears to not even be an option. I remember running into the AD during last year's disappointing season and relayed hope that at least we might have found the QB of the future (as a true freshman). Willis now seems to be the QB of the past in less than a season and a half. Is he so far in the Beaty doghouse that he will leave the program? KU's best QB always seems to be the one that has not ever played a down for the team.

Glen Miller 1 year, 5 months ago

Did you watch him play at all this year? Our line is horrific and he is not mobile at all. He was getting slaughtered in there and hanging on to the ball far too long. When he did throw, it was rushed and not under control. Willis has the physical tools, but he didn't show the ability to translate that to sustained success on the field. He always seems to play better when he's brought in after the fact and teams don't fully game plan for him to be playing.

Tom Keegan 1 year, 5 months ago

Andy, we're going to have to agree to disagree, to use a cliche, because I don't see Willis' performance the way that you do. I think if he played on a team with an offensive line that dominated, he could use his strong arm to do some damage. He does not feel the rush coming, and tends to lock in on his main target. Turnovers and sacks are really damaging plays and Willis has been sacked 16 times and in two starts he turned it over six times. Will he leave the program? I have no direct knowledge of that, but I would not be the least bit surprised if he did. Why wouldn't he? It's not uncommon for a QB recruited by one coach to run one offense to leave after it appears the QB and new coach's offense don't fit each other.

Michael Maris 1 year, 5 months ago

Good to know.

I truly hope that Carter Stanley shows a lot of the same poise this weekend, as he showed in the 2nd half of last weeks game.

Tom Keegan 1 year, 5 months ago

Poise is a great word for it. He doesn't have the strongest arm on the planet, but he's a gamer. Tweak the playbook to fit him and my guess is he'll move the offense better than his two predecessors.

Michael Maris 1 year, 5 months ago

I still have not had my question answered about Dagan Haehn status with the Jayhawks football program.

So, is he even with the team any more?

Brett McCabe 1 year, 5 months ago

Actually, someone did it answer it for you. Is there anything else we can do for her majesty?

Michael Maris 1 year, 5 months ago

Well Brett, I'm sorry that I don't have all day long to cruise this site to see each and every post displayed on a daily basis.

Sorry for to have repeated a question (that I never seen any response to).

Now, you can continue on with your daily rude and negative responses in a timely fashion.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 5 months ago

Then why ask the question? Were you expecting someone to jump right on that for you?

Tom Keegan 1 year, 5 months ago

Actually, Michael, I did answer it, but it was the day after you asked it, so maybe you never saw it. Dagan is at Texas State and will be eligible to play there next season.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 5 months ago

Beaty is listed as fourth on the Coaches Hot Seat web-site. Maybe BGL gives us a going away present and hires Craig Bohl before KSU does.

Michael Lorraine 1 year, 5 months ago

That would be a horrible scenario. Unfortunately I think it's more likely Bohl lands at KSU than KU. Snyder has stated he wants his son to take over. Not sure if that is good or bad.

Glen Miller 1 year, 5 months ago

Yeah, lets just start this scharade all over again..... what is with you people that want to hire a new coach every other year. Beaty needs time, we have so many shortcomings to our program that I don't care who you are (outside of a Meyer or Saban type which would never happen) it's a rebuilding process and something that will take 4-5 years to be competitive on a regular basis. You people are just unrealistic.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 5 months ago

To repeat a post I made earlier. It's the KU athletic department that has fired two consecutive football coaches after roughly two-year auditions. Not the fans. And in making those decisions, the KUAD also decided to completely pivot the program with each hire - our version of football bi-polarism.

However, though we probably all agree that it takes five years to really build a program, it shouldn't take you nearly that long to know if you have the guy to do it. And if you know you have the wrong guy, why waste time?

The key problem on these changes has not been frequency, it's been lack of a consistent plan. Going from Gill to Weis was non-sensical. Going from Weis to Beaty was non-sensical. Different recruiting approaches, different football styles and complete overhauls with each new guy.

It's the KUAD's lack of a plan that has been the primary problem.

Suzi Marshall 1 year, 5 months ago

You are right about Beatty, which surprised me since we have a new Chancellor coming.. Some of the coaches on the list are a big surprise. If UT loses to KU and does not make a bowl, Strong will rocket to the top of that list!

Although UT has superior talent to ISU, I like our chances better for a win vs UT.

Brian Hosfelt 1 year, 5 months ago

maybe Carter Stanley has a little Todd Reesing in him....give him the last 3 games to find out.

Jim Stauffer 1 year, 5 months ago

Haehn is no longer on our roster. He is on a roster in Texas, not sure which.

Michael Maris 1 year, 5 months ago

Thank you for your responding post. I wondered as to what happened to him.

Lloyd Kinnison 1 year, 5 months ago

Maybe Peyton 's OC would be willing to accompany him to KU. Our present coach is not an OC and should admit this fact to himself. He should use his strengths and employ or appoint a person who knows offense. KU 's "air raid" must refer to the QB seeking a place to be protected!!!!

Terry N Tom Denner 1 year, 5 months ago

Just name Carter Stanley the QB for now and the future and spend some scholarships on building up the offensive and defensive line. Either let Cozart go where he thinks he will be of any help to teams like Emporia State of Washburn in Topeka Ks or turn him into a WR. Turn Willis into another Keri Myers that can throw or catch. Tom

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