Wednesday, June 27, 2018


Tom Keegan: Kansas banking on three blockers from same juco to upgrade offensive line

Texas Tech defensive lineman Nick McCann (98) gives a slap to Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) after a pass during the first quarter on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

Texas Tech defensive lineman Nick McCann (98) gives a slap to Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) after a pass during the first quarter on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.


Running back Pooka Williams and quarterback Miles Kendrick were the most celebrated signings recruited to spice up a sluggish offense, but unless Kansas significantly upgrades its offensive line, newcomers and holdovers alike at skill positions won’t have space to show their talent.

Khalil Herbert has enough talent that he ran for 291 yards against West Virginia last season and Peyton Bender throws a pretty pass when not hurried, but both players were victims of a shortage of blocking. They could benefit greatly, stay healthy and develop more confidence if aided by improved play on the offensive line.

That’s what makes three unofficial recruits whose additions bring to five the number of newcomers from the College of San Mateo as important as the official recruits from the school that finished as state runner-up among junior colleges in California.

Unofficial recruits? Blueshirts. Huh?

NCAA rules allow for student-ahtletes who were not officially recruited to go on scholarship once the first semester starts. They do not count toward the scholarship limit of 25 for the current year, but count for the following year.

Kendrick and defensive lineman Jelani Brown received scholarships from Kansas out of College of San Mateo.

Three of Kendrick’s four starting blockers who will be with Big 12 schools are blueshirts at Kansas. The fourth, left tackle Mike Grandy, is at Texas.

CSM’s right tackle (Adagio Lopeti, 6-5, 290), left guard (Api Mane, 6-3, 327) and right guard (Eddie Tatola, 6-3, 310) will compete for snaps with returning Jayhawks.

KU already has added one graduate transfer in offensive tackle Kevin Feder, kept off the field at Ohio State mostly by a foot injury. The coaching staff is hoping to add more beef up front via the graduate-transfer path.

Kansas coach David Beaty will count on the five players from the same juco to do more than perform on game day, according to what CSM coach Eddie Tulloch told the San Jose Mercury News in April.

“Those guys, they’re trying to change the culture,” Tulloch said. “Their head coach flew out and he said, ‘Coach, we want kids that know how to work, we need guys that are going to help us change the culture in the locker room, change the culture on the practice field and guys that know how to win.’ ”

Since Day 1, Beaty has talked a lot about changing the culture of KU football. Thirty-six games and 33 losses later, he’s counting on a handful of players from a winning juco program to accomplish what he hasn’t been able to in three years.

That’s probably asking a lot. We’ll settle for better blocking from the new O-linemen.

If Lopeti, Mane and Tatola, all listed as Kansas-bound by the Mercury News in a story detailing where 19 players from CSM are headed, can improve the toughness of KU’s offensive line, Herbert, Pooka and Dom Williams and whichever of three candidates wins the QB job (Kendrick, Bender, Carter Stanley) will have the time they need to show what sort of players they can become.


Dirk Medema 3 years, 5 months ago

There's been talk about changing the culture for a lot more than even the 3 years Coach Beaty has been here. It seems to me that it has gotten better - what little I can tell from unfortunately much too far away, though there is obviously lots more to go. In a lot of ways it is similar to the roster. From 50 something to approaching 80 is a 50% increase just in shear numbers, and all the post-season awards indicate the quality is getting significantly better as well.

This OLine development is 1 of the 3 big questions that need to be answered affirmatively to have a successful season this year. Finding DE replacements and quality WR depth are the other 2.

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 5 months ago

I would actually disagree that the culture has improved under Beaty.

He had the mantra, "Earn IT" and this year's mantra is "Toughness". I think most people would say the Earn IT mantra was unsuccessful.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 5 months ago

So you don't think the long list of players that have walked on and earn significant playing time and scholarships shows a that "Earn It" was successful? Wow!

You can rightly criticize the lack of production on the field, but to not give any credit for where the program has been successful is just ignorant baby & bathwater mentality.

Bryson Stricker 3 years, 5 months ago

The OG number was 40 something not 50 something.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 5 months ago

Those are some seriously big boys.

There are a couple OL recruits that are also new this year that already have Big12 size - Yes?

Brett McCabe 3 years, 5 months ago

So, panic has officially set in at the coaching offices of KU football. As we enter year four of the "my condolences" campaign, instead of the revealing of some solid redshirt junior and sophomore lineman, we have the cavalry coming in the form of more JUCO signings and graduate transfers? And all behind a cloak of secrecy with the letters r-o-s-t-e-r-m-i-s-m-a-n-a-g-e-m-e-n-t emblazoned on it?

Beaty is running rogue and crippling the future player base at KU. On his visit to the missionary mart of San Mateo, I wonder how Beaty described the level of play on the field for KU?

Jim Stauffer 3 years, 5 months ago

That is baloney, Brett. If, indeed these guys are here the first game of the year, our O-ine problems are significantly reduced. We now have the O-Line Coach we should have had in the beginning and he has the bodies to serve as a foundation to build on. Your hatred for a good man is destroying your ability to objectively analyze the situation.

Mike Hart 3 years, 5 months ago

Brett, non-stop negativity and doom and gloom. I feel bad for someone who walks around with such an approach. No matter what the topic is associated with Beaty and KU football... you will search for the negative and never concede anything positive. Nothing is better I guess. No credit for Corione Harris and Pooka Williams coming here. No... that's all Coach Hull (a Beaty hire btw). Deep down, I'm sure you wish he WASN'T bringing in juco's and transfers... because you want him to fail... and you want another year of football misery, just to justify you taking a dump on Beaty at every opportunity. It's ok to not like the coach, but what you are doing is beyond being disappointed with the program/coach... it's just demoralizing and personal now. But remember... you are done with KU football so should be a moot point.

Bryson Stricker 3 years, 5 months ago

I heavily disagree with you posting this article Tom. Honestly disappointed you would do this knowing the implications it could have.

Do Better.

Frederick Heckel 3 years, 5 months ago

Pay no attention to this loser. He is a completely unhinged troll that has been spewing his crap on the Phog and the Slant for way too long.

Mike Hart 3 years, 5 months ago

... as opposed to what YOU are doing, Frederick? You may disagree with Bryson... but he is a loyal fan of the program whether you agree with him or not. Calling him a loser and a troll... what exactly are you trying to accomplish besides spewing vitriol?

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 5 months ago

So Coach Beaty has been trying to fix our Roster for three years. And basically he signs three JUCOs that take scholarships away from next year.

My understanding is now we only have the ability to sign 22 roster spots next year, setting up issues in the future again. Sorry future football coach that will be joining our team soon.

Chris DeWeese 3 years, 5 months ago

I agree that this move is a bit of a band-aid and that it won't solve the larger problem of having a full roster (including several 4th and 5th year seniors). However, given that Beaty is a lame duck coach, I don't know what else he could have done. Clearly, he's fighting for his job. If he is able to cobble together 5 or 6 wins this season and keep his job, his recruiting practices will only serve to hamper his ability to consistently win going forward.

Mike Hart 3 years, 5 months ago

See you in 2019, Jeff... go watch K-State this year.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 5 months ago

What's the difference between revealing a redshirt junior or sophomore and revealing JC junior or sophomore. That is rhetorical and not really a question because the only answer from anyone without a vendetta against Coach is there isn't any of significance.

This is how the roster has been rebuilt. Again you can reasonably complain about the results on the field but it is pure ignorance to not acknowledge the incredible change for the better in the roster. Tom has posted an article that shows with 6 JCs this year we will have a virtually perfectly balanced roster of 20 +/- players per class.

We essentially get an extra year from the scholarships because it counts toward next year instead of last. It wasn't roster mismanagement when we signed Hakeem as a blueshirt though that was an even better get to have 4 years of starting from a scholarship that wasn't in a recruiting rankings.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 5 months ago

Bryson - Please don't let the negative ignorance of some distort your perspective. This is good news and should be appreciated even if some will twist this and anything else into a negative. It is great that the LJW provides so much coverage, and usually really good stuff, even if it comes with an occasional pissy comment/article. I'm glad that Tom has provided this bit of encouragement regarding the ongoing roster rebuild.

Bryson Stricker 3 years, 5 months ago

This should not have been posted.

Those players are not locked to our school and could be poached by any school in the country. Tom knows better and is choosing to act out in spite.

Not to mention his information is outdated anyways.

Frederick Heckel 3 years, 5 months ago

No one else wanted them. That is why they're coming to KU. KU would be far better off with them going somewhere else just to save next year's recruiting class from Beaty. Beaty won't even be here to deal with the fallout his desperation has already caused.

Mike Hart 3 years, 5 months ago

Riiiigghhhhtt..... no one else wanted them. Just make a comment like that and throw it against the wall and see if it will stick. Um... it doesn't. Miles Kendrick has 3 years of eligibility and is 12th ranked juco dual-threat QB. Charles Cole chose Kansas over Kansas State, UNLV, Fresno State Let's take Elijah Jones: Offered by Boston College, Army, Connecticut, Maryland, Purdue, Rutgers, Temple... so right, no one wanted him. Elmore Hempstead: Offered by Arizona State, Iowa State, Northern Illinois, Central Florida, UNLV, etc... but right, no one wanted these guys.

Frederick Heckel 3 years, 5 months ago

Ol' BryBry is nothing but an unhinged troll. Pay him no attention.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 5 months ago

Actually, Bryson makes a good point. It seems more conspiracy oriented than appropriate, but it is accurate. Most of the info was reported in the SFBay Area paper in April.

Hakeem also came to KU as a blueshirt. Was that because no one else wanted him? It'd be great to get more undesirable Blueshirts.

Richard Duran 3 years, 5 months ago

So Beatty is saying in so many words the guys I recruited out of high school who have been in my program for 3-4 years aren't winners and I need a bunch of guys who weren't good enough for Div I and finished 2nd to teach my guys how to win. No wonder this dude has won 3 games in three years. he was hired because he's a master recruiter who could get Texas talent. But he admitted to a Juco coach his recruits aren't winners. What an insult to the Mike Lees and Joe Dineens of the world. This joke should have been fired long ago.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 5 months ago


Beaty, as well as everyone else knows that it takes a lot of players to make a team. He is looking for guys that have been winners, because there are things that are learned in winning programs that makes a difference. We need players that know what it takes to win. Most players on the team have been winners. That's part of why they've been recruited, just like these 3 JC's.

John Brazelton 3 years, 5 months ago

Texas is, I believe, the only Big 12 school that doesn't recruit JUCO's. Even OU recruits JUCO linemen when they have a shortfall in their rosters. Most 5-year linemen, don't start until they are juniors. They usually play special teams or back-up in their earlier years. If Beaty and Ricker can get two good years out of a JUCO linemen, that's almost as good as a 5-year player.

Brian Wilson 3 years, 5 months ago

Good analysis. We rarely recruit all 25 scholarships in any given year anyway. These guys a HUGE! Compared to most KU linemen and for Coach B there is little risk in losing these guys because their coach is in on it, these players are friends, winners, and have a playing rapport with one another that will make it fun to stay together. I don’t think there is much chance of them being stolen away and broken up by some other offer. So, IMO, smart move by Beatty.

Even if these guys are a step slow for Big 12 these guys have size and for once KU will probably not be pushed around as much which is more than I can say for the past 5 years.

We finally have close to our 85 scholarship limit, which IMO, was what Beatty was hired as a fill in to do. He was lame duck from day one because the roster was just that bad.

And, the second year class recruited by Beatty are now Juniors. That means Beaty finally has some talented players that are at the point of development. So in reality this is the year to see if Beatty can do something. I am expecting no less than 3 wins.

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