'They're pretty special': KU football has high hopes for 2020 cornerbacks

Kansas head football coach Les Miles talks with media members during a signing day press conference on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019 in Mrkonic Auditorium.

Kansas head football coach Les Miles talks with media members during a signing day press conference on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019 in Mrkonic Auditorium.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Kansas head coach Les Miles was especially giddy about one position group after the early signing period.

Of the 19 commits that the Jayhawks landed last week, three of them were listed as cornerbacks. KU’s cornerback trio of Johnquai Lewis, Duece Mayberry and Karon Prunty matches the linebacker unit for most members of a specific position group during the early signing period.

And Miles wasn’t shy about what he thinks they can accomplish in their Jayhawk careers.

“All three of them can play, every one of them,” Miles said of the corners during his press conference. “Just wait till you see how aggressively they flip their hips. They'll hit you. They're pretty special.”

It is not hard to see why that particular position group seems promising in Miles’ second recruiting class at Kansas. All three cornerbacks were listed as three-star recruits according to Rivals.

In addition, all three corners have the physical attributes to make an impact at their position in the Big 12.

“I think all those guys have bright futures here,” said D.J. Eliot, who is entering his second season as the defensive coordinator for Kansas. “I think those guys are all long, they are all around 6-foot or taller. They are all fast, which is good to have length in the secondary.”

While all three players might have their similarities, they all figure to bring something different to the Jayhawks.

Prunty, who is 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, is the tallest of the three. He was listed as the No. 30 overall recruit in the state of Virginia, according to ESPN and the No. 98 cornerback recruit in the Class of 2019 by 247 Sports.

Even at his size, Prunty possess tremendous speed. He won a state title in the 55-meter run at the Class 3 state indoor meet last year, and clocked a season-best time of 10.89 en route to a runner-up finish in the 100-meter run at the outdoor state meet.

Prunty played receiver as well in high school. He ultimately chose Kansas over offers from Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Temple, Charlotte, Liberty and Marshall.

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“I think he's a tremendous prospect,” Miles said. “We went through the school and we found out there's not a guy in that school, not a female teacher, who just doesn't think the world of the guy as a student.”

Lewis, who is 6-foot and 165 pounds, also played receiver and defensive back Champagnat Cathloic High School in Florida. He was ranked as the No. 95 recruit in the state of Florida, according to Rivals. Lewis competed in four consecutive state championship games, winning a pair of state titles.

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Kansas first evaluated Lewis in a summer camp in Florida last year. The Jayhawks appear to like his versatility and toughness as a prospect.

“I think his ceiling is really high,” Eliot said. “He played both wide receiver and corner, so he’s very athletic to be able to do both of those.”

Mayberry, meanwhile, was a ball hawk at Owasso High School. He finished his career with 13 total interceptions, winning two state titles in his last three years. Mayberry, who is 6-foot and 185 pounds, recorded 25 tackles, eight pass breakups and one interception during his senior season.

According to Rivals, Mayberry was the sixth-best recruit in the state of Oklahoma. He is also the younger brother of Kyle Mayberry, who will be a senior cornerback for Kansas next fall.

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“I’m the Oklahoma recruiter, so I knew him well,” Eliot said. “He’s fast just like Kyle, he’s actually a little bit bigger than Kyle. He just won his second state championship in three years at Owasso. He has really good speed and track times.”

The promising class of defensive backs comes at an opportune time for the Jayhawks. Kansas lost seven defensive backs, including two corners, due to graduation from a 2019 squad that went 3-9 in Miles’ first year at the helm.

As a result, the three corners may be asked to make an impact sooner rather than later.

“I think those guys are very talented players and proven winners,” Eliot said. “You have to have confidence to play corner, right? I think all those guys have that, for sure.”