Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Les Miles wants to get KU football to point where Jayhawks don’t need as many juco signees

Newly-hired Kansas head football coach Les Miles sits next to his wife, Kathy, as they listen to Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long tell a story about hiring Miles during the "Hawk Talk" radio show on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at Johnny's West in Lawrence. Miles was announced as the head coach earlier in the day.

Newly-hired Kansas head football coach Les Miles sits next to his wife, Kathy, as they listen to Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long tell a story about hiring Miles during the "Hawk Talk" radio show on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at Johnny's West in Lawrence. Miles was announced as the head coach earlier in the day.


When six junior college prospects signed with the Kansas football program this past December, it seemed new head coach Les Miles might be headed down a familiar recruiting path.

The man who held the job before him, David Beaty, signed 10 juco players in 2017 and 12 more in 2018.

However, when the dust settled on Miles’ first recruiting class at KU, he and his staff only ended up signing five transfers from the junior college ranks — cornerback Justin Ford left the class and reopened his recruitment.

Among the 19 players in KU’s 2019 signing class, 14 will enroll this year as true freshmen.

And from the way Miles made it sound during the National Signing Day edition of his “Hawk Talk” radio show, he’d like for the percentage of high school signees to grow even higher in future classes.

“I’d like to stay high school the entire way,” Miles said while discussing his recruiting philosophy. “The only way that you jump in and get a junior college guy in my opinion is if he makes a tremendous difference to your team.”

To that point, Miles and his assistants expect the five junior college players who signed to contribute immediately.

Quarterback Thomas MacVittie and receivers Ezra Naylor and Andrew Parchment already are enrolled at KU, giving them the opportunity to participate in spring football, which will start in March. Defensive linemen Malcolm Lee and Caleb Sampson, who will join the program later on this year, were targeted specifically to help beef up a position group Miles identified as an area of concern.

Miles has no problem locating and adding junior college players if he thinks they can make the team better. He would just like to get to a point where the program doesn’t have so many glaring needs that the coaches have to go find older, ready-to-play transfers.

Miles said he hopes that with “good recruiting and staying in front” in the years ahead, KU’s roster will be in a position where coaches can focus on adding high school recruits.

“Two years, as opposed to four years, that four-year guy gives you a lot of time to develop him and make it work,” Miles said. “The two-year guy is just a little short there.”

MacVittie, Naylor and Parchment will be juniors for KU this coming season, while Lee and Sampson are set to join the program as sophomores.

KU football’s 2019 recruiting class

(ratings from Rivals; √ = signed)

National Signing Day signees

√ 4-star South Oak Cliff H.S. (Texas) LB Steven Parker (6-4, 220)

√ 3-star Broken Arrow H.S. (Okla.) LB Gavin Potter (6-2, 205)

√ 3-star Dallas Skyline (Texas) RB Velton Gardner (5-9, 190)

√ 3-star Blue Valley North H.S. RB Amauri Pesek-Hickson (6-0, 225)

√ 3-star Menendez H.S. (Fla.) CB Kenny Logan Jr. (6-0, 195)

√ 2-star Park Crossing H.S. (Ala.) DL Marcus Harris (6-2, 265)

√ 2-star Carver H.S. (Ala.) LB Jerome Robinson (6-3, 235)

√ A.L. Brown H.S. (N.C.) QB Jordan Medley (6-2, 200)

√ Westerville Central H.S. (Ohio) K Jacob Borcila (6-2, 170)

December early signees

√ 3-star St. Thomas Aquinas H.S.S Jayden Russell (6-3, 190)

√ 3-star McEachern H.S. (Ga.) CB Valerian Agbaw (5-10, 170)

√ 3-star Mesa C.C. (Ariz.) QB Thomas MacVittie (6-5, 225)

√ 3-star Iowa Central C.C. WR Ezra Naylor (6-4, 210)

√ 3-star Iowa Western C.C. DE Malcolm Lee (6-5, 270)

√ 2-star Coahoma C.C. (Miss.) DL Caleb Sampson (6-4, 285)

√ 2-star Iowa Central C.C. WR Andrew Parchment (6-2, 185)

√ 2-star Meridian H.S. (Miss.) DL Da’Jon Terry (6-4, 350)

√ 2-star Andale H.S. TE Mason Fairchild (6-5, 250)

√ 2-star Rochdale H.S. (Texas) QB Torry Locklin (6-2, 195)


Edward Daub 2 years, 7 months ago

And he signed his letter of intent using Quill and Ink.

Brian Wilson 2 years, 7 months ago

It would be interesting if you would do an article and look at thebreakdown on the number of Transfer students that will be on the team next year. I know that Coach Miles signed a few but i believe that the majority of the transfer players are going to be seniors next year and after they graduate and Miles gets a high school class for 2020, the number of transfers on the team will be dramatically reduced. And then I think in two years there will be very few transfers on the team.

Chris DeWeese 2 years, 7 months ago

It seems we're on our way. I'm hoping we can start getting some commitments for 2020 soon.

Mark Bowers 2 years, 7 months ago

Does the LJW even have access to coaches or players? It seems like all the football articles are second hand and not directly from the source (obviously I'm human, so room for error I hope)? Is there not a good relationship with the paper and the athletic department at KU? I love this paper, I grew up reading it and even delivered it when I was a kid, I'd just like to see more meaningful articles instead of so much fluff.

Eric Eakins 2 years, 7 months ago

100% agree. Feel like almost every article on LJW is written from press conferences, press releases, or lifted off of other articles. I was developing the opinion that Beaty and LJW (Keegan more specifically) had had enough of talking directly to each other and with both of them gone that things would change but a lot of LJW articles imply that the current staff are talking to national media not local so something is amiss still. The SI article was so refreshing and fun to read. Haven't had that kind of insight in years. LJW and KU should be great partners supporting each other and holding each other accountable too but seems it has sour greatly.

Jeff Coffman 2 years, 7 months ago

Les Miles is in an unusual place. he actually has ties with ESPN and other national outlets. As he tries to get the program turned around, he is using those networking opportunities to get a few extra tidbits into the nation. I believe there was an article on Sports Illustrated, USA Today, and EPSN all within the last month. They all had the depths that KU is in, but they all spun it into a positive advantage for KU and the hiring of Les Miles. I think Les is using those people he feels comfortable with and those individuals that have treated him well over the past 12-15 years. I think in the next few months as he gets more involved and the LJW works on building a relationship with the coaches in a positive way, they will see more access.

However, if at every turn the LJW does a dark piece on the basketball program or KU athletics, you will naturally see less time with the program.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 7 months ago

I think Coach Self was only half joking in the presser after finding out TK was leaving, and commented that TK would be missed in the community but not in the athletic department.

When Long started, he requested that we all remain supportive of the players and coaches, and that was blatantly ignored except for a small window after winning 2 games. TK might have been the ringleader, but he definitely wasn't the only one. What's the saying, you reap what you sow?

Eric Eakins 2 years, 7 months ago

The bottom Big 12 team (currently us) should be averaging 4 wins over a rolling 5 years in my opinion. If not then the direction has gone far south (KU testament to that). So for me 4 wins is bad. 6 wins is mediocre. 8 wins is good with potential. Above is starting to contend. I expect 4-6 wins next year, minimum 6 year two and competitive potential following. It's unfortunate and even disastrous that the KU fan base sees 4 - 5 wins as a good year but that is where we are at right now.

Kevin Robert Fest 2 years, 7 months ago

Not a good year but a start compared to the ladt 10 years. If 4-5 wins but highly competitive like Iowa St a few years ago, that's something to be encouraged about. 4-5 beating bad noncons and barely beating bad Big 12 teams...worrisome.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 7 months ago

Joe Ross and I had a bit of online discussion here last fall about that team being close to .500. I followed that thought later in looking to next year, and someone (you? pizzaboy? ???) appropriately pointed out that the non-con is significantly more difficult next year. I hadn't looked ahead, and it is definitely a valid point. I think BC is even on the road. Even 3 non-con W's could be difficult, and then to get 3 more in conference? It will be interesting to see what KSU & TTU look like next year. They seem to be the lowest hanging fruit at this point.

Jim Stauffer 2 years, 7 months ago

The problem is Keegan took on a personal vendetta against Beaty and during that period along with the end of the Weis era, things seemed to go a little sour with Keegan and KU. Now Matt, Benton and others should be able to get back on a communicating relationship. I think most fans thought Keegan was unfair and this brought the fans wrath on the paper. At least this is the way I saw it. No doubt, Matt Tait is loved by our fans and we all wish he would cover Football. Hey anyone can cover a BB team that wins every year. Takes someone with knowledge and concern for the sport to cover Football that has been down for 10 years.

Jeff Coffman 2 years, 7 months ago

I think when Charlie Weis started going JUCO it created a wave of an issue. However, when Beaty inherited a roster, the roster does not seem to be rebuilt with the future in mind. I feel that KU gave Beaty a 5 year extension, to give Beaty confidence he could build the program correctly. However, the thought that we won't be able to get there until 2022, really shows that he continued the issue with JUCO recruits and didn't solve it. I'm glad that we have a coach that sees this route as a Band-Aid that really causes problems in the future. I hope he can continue with this goal and really market to the high school crowds. I think the December to February recruiting period really shows his commitment to talent and being able to go after recruits that really have interest in KU and will commit. I'm really excited for the upcoming season and the way things are already shaping up to move forward.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 7 months ago

Really encouraging that Lee and Sampson will join the program as sophomores. IMO that was one of the distinctions between what Beaty did from Weis. Most of his non-HS recruits were here for more than 2 years, even if just by arriving mid-year in time for Spring practice. Unfortunately, his shortcomings as a head coach kept him from having enough attraction to more HS players, but we are at least in a much better position than when he arrived.

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