Kansas football coach Les Miles and his staff proved in 2020 they don’t mind starting freshmen. But it may still be a while before Miles is ready to make any proclamations about how specific members of the Jayhawks’ 2021 signing class could make an impact next year.
In the recently completed second season of Miles’ rebuilding project with KU, 11 different true freshmen started at least one game. No first-year player was as ready to play and be productive, though, as cornerback Karon Prunty — one of only three players on the roster to start in every game.
A 6-foot-1, 189-pound corner from Portsmouth, Va., Prunty’s name was one Miles brought up frequently, even before the season began, in anticipation of the freshman contributing.
Earlier this month, when Miles met via video conference with reporters to share his thoughts on KU’s next batch of freshmen, he was asked whether any of the Jayhawks’ early signees could follow in Prunty’s footsteps.
The coach didn’t single out specific players, but provided some clues in the form of position groups.
“I like my linebackers,” Miles began in his response.
KU signed three linebackers in December: Andrew Simpson (6-1, 220 pounds, from Norwalk, Calif.), Trey Staley (6-2, 200, from Snellville, Ga.) and D’Marion Alexander (6-5, 215, from China Spring, Texas).
“I like those offensive line lads,” Miles continued.
The Jayhawks also signed three O-linemen during the early period: Corey Robinson II (6-5, 270, from Roswell, Ga.), De’Kedrick Sterns (6-4, 272, from Austin, Texas) and Larson Workman (6-5, 265, from Ganado, Texas).
But Miles wasn’t done there, pointing to another position of need.
“That safety spot will be guys that will step in and play,” Miles added.
The secondary group he referenced included four signees by the time the three-day early period concluded: Omar “O.J.” Burroughs (5-10, 167, from Savannah, Ga.), Edwin White (6-0, 196, from Mobile, Ala.), James Wright (6-1, 195, from Sumter, S.C) and Jayson Gilliom (6-2, 190, from Suwanee, Ga.).
Miles scanned his list of signees one last time to make sure he didn’t forget a group. That’s when he touted KU’s incoming receivers, as well. Miles named Kelan Robinson (6-2, 183, from Grand Prairie, Texas) and Majik Rector (5-9, 152, from Dallas) specifically.
“Those guys might give you some plays,” Miles said.
The top unsigned high school senior receiver in the nation, per Rivals, Quaydarius Davis is considering KU.
Davis, a four-star prospect from Skyline High in Dallas, told Jon Kirby of Jayhawk Slant that he has known KU receivers coach Emmett Jones since his freshman year.
Davis announced his top three schools are KU, Florida and Oklahoma State, but said others could be considered, too.
KU signed 20 high school players to its 2021 class in December, and could add in February as many as five more for next year.
The Jayhawks are expected to bring in another punter for their 2021 roster in preferred walk-on Grayden Addison.
A specialist from Noblesville, Ind., Addison announced earlier this month his plans to join KU.
√ Ben Easters — 3-star Indiana prep QB; 6-3, 195
√ Omar “O.J.” Burroughs — 3-star Florida prep S; 5-10, 167
√ Cam’Ron Dabney — 3-star Georgia prep CB; 5-10, 175
√ Corey Robinson II — 3-star Georgia prep OL; 6-5, 270
√ Majik Rector — 3-star Texas prep WR; 5-9, 152
√ DeVonte Wilson — 3-star Florida prep CB; 6-3, 192
√ Kelan Robinson — 3-star Texas prep WR; 6-2, 183
√ Tommy Dunn Jr. — 3-star Texas prep DL; 6-3, 277
√ Deldrick “D.J.” Withers — 2-star Arkansas prep DL; 6-4, 245
√ James Wright — 3-star South Carolina prep S; 6-1, 195
√ D’Marion Alexander — 3-star Texas prep LB; 6-5, 215
√ Trey Staley — 3-star Georgia prep LB; 6-2, 200
√ Mason Brotherton — 3-star Arkansas prep TE; 6-4, 242
√ Devin Neal — 3-star Lawrence prep RB; 5-11, 208
√ Jayson Gilliom — 2-star Georgia prep S; 6-2, 190
√ Andrew Simpson — 3-star California prep LB; 6-1, 220
√ De’Kedrick Sterns — 3-star Texas prep OT; 6-4, 272
√ Larson Workman — 2-star Texas prep OT; 6-5, 270
√ Tanaka Scott Jr. — 3-star Alabama prep WR; 6-4, 192
√ Edwin White — 3-star Alabama prep S; 6-0, 196
• Kameron Grays — 3-star Alabama prep DB
• Garfield Lawrence — 3-star Texas prep DE