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Sunday, August 5, 2018

Keegan

Tom Keegan: Will the real Daylon Charlot stand up this season?

Team Jayhawks receiver Daylon Charlot roars after scoring what proved to be the winning touchdown during the fourth quarter of the 2017 Spring Game on Saturday, April 15 at Memorial Stadium.

Team Jayhawks receiver Daylon Charlot roars after scoring what proved to be the winning touchdown during the fourth quarter of the 2017 Spring Game on Saturday, April 15 at Memorial Stadium.

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Write off Daylon Charlot at your own risk, but before doing so, consider something just one more time.

Alabama’s Nick Saban, worthy of a bust on the all-time Mount Rushmore of college football coaches, wanted him to play for the Crimson Tide not just once, but twice.

Saban gave Charlot a scholarship out of high school and when the wide receiver informed him he wanted to transfer, Saban tried to talk him into staying.

Any coach who wins six national titles doesn’t make too many mistakes evaluating personnel.

So what happened to Charlot last season, a year after he drew consistent praise from Kansas coaches for his attitude during his redshirt season? He caught one pass for no gain, was switched to safety late in the season, and is back at wide receiver for his junior season.

What went so terribly wrong with a player who arrived at KU with so much fanfare?

Based on Media Day interviews with Charlot, assistant coaches and teammates, the best answer is that it was a combination of factors including a knee injury that was kept secret and contributed to less than ideal conditioning, difficulty picking up on the nuances of the Air Raid offense, and the need to mature.

Looking for a sleeper to contribute big things for the Jayhawks in 2018? Why not Charlot?

“My confidence level is at a 10,” Charlot said Saturday. “I’m taking care of my business every day. I plan on having a great camp and taking care of my body so everything can turn out great for me this season.”

His body wasn’t right, last season, Charlot said.

“I had a bad injury,” he said. “I sprained my knee and it put some weight on me when I had to sit out for a few weeks. Now I’m back and healthy, 100 percent. I gained a few pounds, but I’m back at where I want to be now.”

Quarterback Carter Stanley said he has noticed a big difference in his potential target.

“Daylon’s a special player,” Stanley said. “He had an unfortunate nagging knee injury last year. He didn’t look right. He looked really good in spring last year and even in fall camp and then he kind of had that injury and it set him back for sure. He looked good this spring and he’s looked good this fall camp so far.”

How good?

“Pretty good,” Stanley said. “He’s kind of different from some of the receivers that you’ve seen out of us in the past. He’s kind of a mix of a lot of them. He’s kind of like a mix between a (Jeremiah) Booker and Steven Sims. He’s a special player, and I like throwing him the ball.”

Quarterback Miles Kendrick’s view of Charlot: “I see a guy who’s just waiting to explode and just really show everyone the kind of baller he is.”

Kendrick joined the program from junior college at the semester break during the 2017-18 school year.

“I told him the other day I feel like he’s had a great summer, transitioning from spring ball to summer,” Kendrick said. “When we’d do player-led practices I really saw a difference in his focus, the way he was just moving. You could just tell there’s a little different type of pep in his step. I think he’s excited and he’s ready to have a great season and contribute to the offense hugely.”

Offensive coordinator Doug Meacham coached wide receivers last season, but has shifted to coaching quarterbacks. He said he has noticed a change in the receiver he didn’t use much.

“It seems like he pays a attention to detail a little bit more, is a little bit more conscientious about his conditioning, his body and stuff like that,” Meacham said. “I think he’s one of those guys who was kind of gifted early on in his life and kind of got it done, and I think that caught up to him a little bit. And then he got frustrated. And there was all the hype, and he’s on the cover of the magazines and stuff and didn’t do anything. Now there’s a twinge of maybe embarrassment along the way. But I think he’s grown up a lot.”

Tony Hull coaches running backs, but also takes it upon himself to nurture the spirits and confidence of all Louisiana natives on the roster.

“Daylon had a really tough time last year with the way he performed on the field,” Hull said. “However, I commend him on the way he worked through it. I commend him on the way he persevered. I commend him on the way he handled it because you can’t ask a 20 21, 22-year-old kid to handle it the way he did. We expect big things out of him this year. However, as a big brother, father figure to him, I am extremely excited and extremely happy how he persevered through him struggling on the field last year. I think it will help him overall as a man. Whenever his football time is over the lessons he learned from last year he can carry on through life.”

As for his football gifts?

“I think he’s an extremely good talent,” Hull said. “I think Daylon has made tremendous strides over the past year and a half.”

How so?

“I think he understands now what it takes to be successful here,” Hull said. “The previous system he comes from it was just run fast straight and we’ll get you the ball. Whereas this one, you have to understand coverages, you have to understand is it press is it soft coverage, a whole bunch of intricacies he didn’t understand coming here. I think now, along with his physical gifts, he’s made strides to be successful.”

Charlot’s stock was high a year ago at this time. Selling would have been a good move. His stock is low now. It’s probably a good time to buy what people are saying about him making positive changes.

Comments

Dirk Medema 2 months, 1 week ago

Having Daylon as a compliment to Sims as primary targets is so important, and then finding others that can step up in support.

It all starts with the big uglies up front though. There is a whole new group of experienced players that arrived this year, so lots of possibilities.

John Fitzgerald 2 months, 1 week ago

Great read, Tom. I’ve been a big Charlot fan and have him on my potential breakout player list and even have him listed as a projected starter. I could be way off on both but he is very important to this team and we need another guy like Sims that the QB’s can count on.

Tom Keegan 2 months, 1 week ago

Like the idea of Sims, Charlot, Fairs and Hampton giving QB options.

[''] 2 months, 1 week ago

A great talent. Too bad he is being subjected to the ineptness of this coaching staff being able to bring out the best in these young men.

Jeff Coffman 2 months, 1 week ago

Is this the third or the fourth wide receiver coach since he has been here?

Anyways, as noted, if Bender is named the QB, it'll be a good sign the line will hold to have some receivers make a difference. If one of the other QBs is named, likely the OL won't be as solid as we hoped, and the receivers will have a short time to get open, likely on bubble screens or short outs.

Jeff Kallmeyer 2 months, 1 week ago

Interesting concept about Bender and the OL; don't know if I agree, shouldn't the best man win?

Benny Armstrong 2 months, 1 week ago

I think you have to play to your strengths as an offensive unit and pick the starters accordingly, especially when considering a position like QB. There's no sense in sending someone out there to likely fail if you know that the line can't block long enough for plays to develop and said QB isn't mobile enough to buy time.

This isn't intended to be a knock on Bender, but just an acknowledgement that he is not billed as being as mobile as Stanley or Kendrick, both of which are touted as being able to get away from the rush and extend plays long enough to let receivers get to their spots. Hopefully, the line has improved enough through the combination of a new coach, incoming experienced transfers, and the current players becoming seasoned from the last couple of years so that whoever we put back there has enough time to make smart decisions with the football.

Time will tell, but I'm looking forward to the season and hopeful that we can get off to a hot start to build some momentum. RCJH

Dirk Medema 2 months, 1 week ago

Somehow "coaching ineptness" and "not being able to bring out the best" doesn't correlate with the 5 players receiving postseason awards last year.

Obviously we didn't get reasonable results as a team but the coaches most certainly were able to develop some of the players. Just not enough with enough behind them.

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