KU football's 2018 class best since Beaty's arrival, but far from historic

Kansas head coach David Beaty watches a West Virginia score during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach David Beaty watches a West Virginia score during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

When David Beaty said during his National Signing Day press conference Wednesday he doesn’t care about national team recruiting rankings the Kansas football coach wasn’t kidding.

“I know some of you guys follow that. I think it may be the highest rating we've had in the history of our university here,” Beaty said of KU’s 2018 signing class, “since they've been keeping rankings. If it's not, it's close.”

It isn’t.

Although the presence of four-star prep standouts Corione Harris and Pooka Williams, as well as the weight of 10 more three-star talents (four from the high school ranks and six via junior college) gave this KU class more legitimacy than some from the past several years — and it is definitely the best since Beaty took over the program — neither Rivals nor 247 Sports graded the group of signees as highly as the coach implied.

When the dust settled on 2018’s February signing day, Rivals ranked KU’s class 47th nationally and 247 Sports had the Jayhawks slotted 62nd.

Looking back at national recruiting rankings from both sites since 2002, when Rivals began tracking them, KU’s 2018 class is the seventh-best in that span. Per 247 Sports’ assessments through the years, this is KU’s 11th-best class since 2002.

Still, the program is in such a state that several of its incoming freshmen and junior college transfers (three sophomores, eight juniors) could factor into KU’s depth chart immediately.

So how many 2018 signees have a realistic shot at getting on the field and contributing this coming fall?

“Well, you always hope that you can get all of them on the field, but the reality of it is that you won’t,” Beaty said. “I’d like to believe that where we are right now that we have recruited well enough in the previous three years that we can start doing what you'd like to do, which is to be able to get these guys an opportunity to grow.”

The fourth-year KU coach noted a significant gap exists between the level at which these newest Jayhawks last played and what awaits them at the FBS level.

“It's like I tell those guys all the time, hey, listen. Anybody that tells you they're going to start right away, they're lying to you,” Beaty said. “It's going to come down to what you do, and how much you learn.”

Ten members of KU’s signing class already are enrolled and going through offseason workouts this semester: junior defensive tackle Charles “Codey” Cole, junior defensive end Foster Dixson, freshman cornerback Corione Harris, sophomore quarterback Miles Kendrick, junior safety Jeremiah McCullough, sophomore receiver Stephon Robinson Jr., graduate transfer tight end Mavin Saunders, junior defensive end Najee Stevens-McKenzie and freshman offensive lineman Nick Williams.

KU football’s recruiting rankings

2018 — Rivals: 47th | 247 Sports: 62nd

2017 — Rivals: 57th | 247 Sports: 71st

2016 — Rivals: 95th | 247 Sports: 70th

2015 — Rivals: 66th | 247 Sports: 73rd

2014 — Rivals: 55th | 247 Sports: 50th

2013 — Rivals: 46th | 247 Sports: 49th

2012 — Rivals: 75th | 247 Sports: 81st

2011 — Rivals: 34th | 247 Sports: 40th

2010 — Rivals: 55th | 247 Sports: 64th

2009 — Rivals: 31st | 247 Sports: 45th

2008 — Rivals: 40th | 247 Sports: 43rd

2007 — Rivals: 51st | 247 Sports: 50th

2006 — Rivals: 38th | 247 Sports: 39th

2005 — Rivals: 48th | 247 Sports: 41st

2004 — Rivals: 51st | 247 Sports: 52nd

2003 — Rivals: 39th | 247 Sports: 44th

2002 — Rivals: 57th | 247 Sports: 55th

KU football’s 2018 recruiting class

9 High school prospects

4-star talents

CB - Corione Harris, Landry-Walker High (La.)

RB - Anthony “Pooka” Williams, Hahnville High (La.)

3-star talents

DE - Miles Emery, Blue Valley North

OL - Nick Williams, Ritenour High (Mo.)

OL - Jacobi Lott, Tascosa High (Texas)

LB - Kenny Bastida, Deerfield Beach High (Florida)

2-star talents

OL - Mac Copeland, Wichita Collegiate High

Ath. -Ryan Malbrough, Cecilia High (La.)

QB - Torry Locklin, Rockdale High (Texas) [*unsigned]

11 Junior college prospects

3-star talents

CB - Elijah Jones, junior, Ellsworth C.C. (Iowa)

DT - Charles “Codey” Cole, junior, Butler C.C.

DE - Azur Kamara, junior, Arizona Western C.C.

DE - Foster Dixson, junior, West Los Angeles College

OL - Reuben Lewis, junior, Coffeyville C.C.

CB - Elmore Hempstead, junior, Fort Scott C.C.

DE - Najee Stevens-McKenzie, junior, ASA College (N.Y.)

QB - Miles Kendrick, sophomore, College of San Mateo (Calif.)

WR - Stephon Robinson, sophomore, El Camino College (Calif.)

S - Jeremiah McCullough, junior, Hartnell College (Calif.)

2-star talent

DB - Davon Ferguson, sophomore, Hartnell College (Calif.)

1 graduate transfer

TE - Mavin Saunders, Florida State

7 known or probable freshman walk-ons

Ath. - Nick Channel | 6-0, 205 | Kapaun Mt. Carmel High

TE - Dylan Freberg | 6-4, 210 | Blue Valley North High

QB - Billy Maples | 6-2, 220 | Park Hill High (Mo.)

Ath. - Cody McNerney | 6-1, 200 | Wichita Collegiate High

OL - Jack Murphy | 6-9, 291 | Rockhurst High (Mo.)

TE - Jack Parks | 6-5, 230 | Olathe Northwest High

OL - Spencer Roe | 6-4, 270 | Free State High