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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Les Miles thinks KU addressed most of its needs in 2020 signing class

Kansas head coach Les Miles watches practice before an NCAA college football game against Indiana State Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in Lawrence, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas head coach Les Miles watches practice before an NCAA college football game against Indiana State Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in Lawrence, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

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With the Kansas football team’s 2020 signing class finally complete, head coach Les Miles looked at the long list of high school players he and his assistants spent the past year recruiting and didn’t mind sharing his sense of satisfaction.

“This has been,” Miles said during a Thursday press conference, while knocking his fist on the wooden lectern in front of him, “the kind of class that we needed.”

Now in his second year of trying to rebuild the program, Miles considered the incoming crop of talent “maybe” even “a little bit” better than the previous year, even though this one didn’t have a single prospect rated higher than three stars.

“Now, you’re going to really know about this entire class in about two years,” Miles added. “That guy’s having a great career. That guy’s coming. And that’s just the way it is. But we have speed and size and ball skills.”

In all, KU announced the addition of 30 players for its 2020 class, all of whom are high school seniors. The list included four preferred walk-ons.

The signing class includes seven receivers, six offensive linemen, five cornerbacks, three defensive linemen, two tight ends and one player apiece at running back, quarterback, fullback and punter.

The recruiting site Rivals graded cornerbacks Duece Mayberry and JaCobee Bryant as the best prospects in the bunch, with both of the three-star standouts receiving a 5.7 rating.

Using a different scoring system, 247Sports’ composite player rankings graded Bryant as the best prospect in KU’s class as well, at 0.8742. Three-star receiver Lawrence Arnold Jr. was second from the group, at 0.866.

While Rivals’ Big 12 team recruiting rankings for 2020 places KU seventh, according to its points system, KU benefits from having more players in this class than other programs in the league. Looking at the average star rating for players who signed with each school, KU comes in ninth with an average of 2.76, just ahead of rival Kansas State (2.71).

Over at 247Sports, meanwhile, KU’s class ranks 10th in the Big 12, both in overall player ratings and average ratings.

Just one QB

Although KU added just one quarterback in its 2020 class, Jalon Daniels, who signed in December, it is clear Miles would have liked to bring in another.

Asked if there were some positions where he hoped to further bolster the roster, Miles replied: “I don’t know that I can actually talk about some of those guys (because they didn’t sign with KU), but yes.”

More specifically, Miles was asked if he aimed to bring in a veteran QB with experience as a transfer.

“Yeah, I think that could’ve worked,” Miles replied. “But we’re thrilled with who we got.”

Former Florida QB Feleipe Franks was a KU target, but chose to transfer to Arkansas.

Bryant back on board

One of the stranger developments on the KU recruiting front for 2020 came when Bryant, a 6-foot corner from Evergreen, Ala., decommitted from the Jayhawks in late January, only to sign with them on Wednesday.

“We have good knowledge there. And we stayed with him the entire time,” Miles said of the coaches’ relationship with Bryant, who initially committed to KU back in June of 2019.

“We got freed for a scholarship and that made it all kind of work,” Miles explained of Bryant’s change of heart.

Miles on players transferring

During the same week that KU completed its 2020 signing class, the program lost three veteran skill players.

Running back Dom Williams and receivers Evan Fairs and Quan Hampton all entered the NCAA’s transfer portal.

Miles, speaking with reporters for the first time since then, offered his thoughts on their departures.

“They’re people you really enjoy. They’re good guys," Miles began. “They’re making a statement that they think it would be very difficult for them to play here. I made every pitch that I could to redirect them. But it’s their call. It is what it is, I guess. I hate that term. This may be the first time I’ve ever used it.”

December signees already on campus

While most of KU’s 2020 signees won’t move to Lawrence until the summer, a few of them are getting a head start.

Six new Jayhawks who signed in December graduated high school early and are already on campus for the spring semester: Arnold, tight end Will Huggins, offensive lineman Garrett Jones, linebacker Alonso Person, cornerback Karon Prunty and defensive lineman Caleb Taylor.

KU football 2020 recruiting class

(Rivals recruiting rankings listed)

National Signing Day announced signees

√ Kenean Caldwell - 3-star DT from Louisiana; 6-2, 295 pounds

√ Clinton Anokwuru - 3-star DE from Texas; 6-3, 235

√ JaCobee Bryant - 3-star CB from Alabama; 6-0, 170

√ Jackson Satterwhite - 3-star OL from Oklahoma; 6-5, 285 pounds

√ Ra’Mello Dotson - 2-star CB from Florida; 6-1, 170

√ Bryce Cabeldue - 2-star OL from New Mexico; 6-6, 245 pounds

√ Kyler Pearson - 2-star WR from Oklahoma; 5-8, 170 pounds

Early signing period announced signees

√ Garrett Jones - 3-star OL from Michigan; 6-4, 285 pounds

√ Will Huggins - 3-star TE from Kansas; 6-7, 235 pounds

√ Caleb Taylor - 3-star DE from Missouri; 6-2, 255 pounds

√ Trevor Kardell - 3-star TE from Lee’s Missouri; 6-5, 225 pounds

√ Krishawn Brown - 3-star LB from Oklahoma; 6-1, 200 pounds

√ Taiwan Berryhill - 3-star LB from Louisiana; 6-2, 200 pounds

√ Steven McBride - 3-star WR from Louisiana; 6-0, 160 pounds

√ Johnquai Lewis - 3-star CB from Florida; 6-0, 185 pounds

√ Tristan Golightly - 3-star WR/TE from Texas; 6-4, 200 pounds

√ Lawrence Arnold Jr. - 3-star WR from Texas; 6-3, 185 pounds

√ Malik Johnson - 3-star WR from Texas; 5-9, 180 pounds

√ Nicholas Martinez - 3-star OL from California; 6-5, 285 pounds

√ Duece Mayberry - 3-star CB from Oklahoma; 6-0, 185 pounds

√ Alonso Person - 3-star LB from California; 6-3, 200 pounds

√ Luke Grimm - 3-star WR from Missouri; 6-0, 170 pounds

√ Daniel Hishaw Jr. - 2-star athlete from Oklahoma; 5-10, 200 pounds

√ Armaj Adams-Reed - 2-star OL from Texas; 6-5, 350 pounds

√ Karon Prunty - 2-star CB from Virginia; 6-1, 190 pounds

√ Jalon Daniels - 2-star QB from California; 6-0, 207 pounds

KU’s announced preferred walk-ons

√ Jared Casey - FB from Plainville

√ Quentin Skinner - WR from Claremore, Okla.

√ Reis Vernon - P from Bixby, Okla.

√ Danny Robinson - OL from Overland Park

Comments

Brett McCabe 3 weeks ago

Six kids on campus. That’s great! Get a jump start and move yourself forward!

Brian Wilson 3 weeks ago

“They’re making a statement that they think it would be very difficult for them to play here. I made every pitch that I could to redirect them. But it’s their call. It is what it is, I guess. I hate that term. This may be the first time I’ve ever used it.”

HUH? HUH?, and "HUH?
Really nice article but it leaves me questions.
I am not sure what to make of this statement and the list of signees.
First, Benton, did you get this quote verbatim? What term does he hate? Is the term missing from the quote? Is he refering to the phrase "It is what it is"? which is not a term?
Second, if these guys think they are not good enough to play here, then why are we making every pitch to keep them? What is meant by "very difficult for them to play here." Sounds like players finding it difficult to tough it out on a struggling rebuilding probably losing team . If that's the case and they won't accept the challenge to change it, then buy them a bus ticket!!
Third, We've signed 26? with a limit of 25, how are we able to sign this 26th player? Is there a gray shirt in the bunch? And, why are we asking about signing more players or having transfers? Aren't we out of spots to offer? How would that be possible?

If the hated term being referenced is "it is what it is" then that sounds to me like the first expression from HCLM indicating his frustration with his/(KU's) situation. Am I reading to much into this?

Brett McCabe 3 weeks ago

Yes, you are. He, of course, meant “phrase” but Les - you may have noticed - is not necessarily a wizard with words.

And I think that he wanted them to stay because they were a part of the team, because they could still compete and they could provide valuable depth to the team.

And as far as the numbers, who cares? I’m guessing all the people in the offices know how to run a spreadsheet.

Brian Wilson 3 weeks ago

I understand but....to add further to my question/suspcicion...we just changed our primary recruiter. Coincidence? Idk...

And look, I am pretty satisfied with this recruiting class and not surpised by players leaving. This year's 18 number 3's all HS recruits with a lot local flavor is a lot better than 60 walkons that Beatty had.

Jim Stauffer 2 weeks, 6 days ago

It is necessary for the reader to actually engage his mind if he is to understand comments in an article. Miles hates the phrase, "It is what it is." And the players found it difficult to find playing time here as there were guys in front of them. They go somewhere else to achieve said playing time. And finally, Yeah, you are reading too much into something anyone else can simply figure out. There are limitations to the specifics a Coach can speak of players coming into the system. There are also kindnesses that are afforded those who are blue shirts or gray shirts, etc., so they are not identified.

Buck Bukaty 3 weeks ago

My annual question, Benton, would you or someone please provide an assessment of who is coming off of and will be available to contribute off of their Redshirt year? Thanks!

Dane Pratt 3 weeks ago

I'd like to know where I an find a definitive KU football roster. I looked at KUSports, ESPN and OurLads and they each have different rosters.

Dirk Medema 3 weeks ago

If the team rankings are 9th and 10th, is there much difference between this class and what’s happened with previous? The easy answer is to point out all HS SRs. If the JC recruit comes with 4 years to play 3 and collegiate experience, is there a significant difference? If both seasons end with 3Ws including both a W & L that seemed improbable and 3 more close Ls - I certainly hope there’s a difference because there was a pretty universal agreement that the previous HC was subpar in game management. Sadly, it seems equally certain that we took a step backwards on D this year then lost the coach that made the difference.

Still hoping for good things but without crimson glasses things have a decidedly grey tone to them.

Brett McCabe 3 weeks ago

Dirk, there is no excuse making here but there should be fairness. Miles had a few weeks to put together his first recruiting class, which means that class probably was limited in contribution in season one and probably beyond. Season one of Beaty was 0-12 including an opening game home loss to an FCS school that went 5-3 in their FCS conference. Beaty won two games in season two and then regressed to one win in season three. That debacle, combined with another opening game home loss to an FCS school in Year Three cost him his job.

Les Miles, with an all new staff and new systems, won 3 games in Year One. That’s three more than Beaty, and it matched Beaty’s best season.

In Year Two, Miles must improve the program. He will be slightly handicapped due to the first year recruiting rush. So, in fairness, the biggest jump should come in Year Three. However, we should be able to see a difference this year. If he’s a better coach than Gill, Weiss and Beaty, then there should be clear signs of improvement. I think that he is a better coach than those three combined. We shall see.

David Robinett 3 weeks ago

We’re gonna need 5 wins this year, to build any momentum.

Brett McCabe 2 weeks, 6 days ago

David, I think that four qualifies as momentum and five would represent a fundamental change in the program - for the better. If Miles wins five this year, big things will follow.

Steven Haag 2 weeks, 6 days ago

I fear we will be lucky to get 3 wins.....with several blowout losses. I don’t see any improvement in recruiting or talent. Maybe the coaches can coach them up, but I’m being glass half empty at this point.

Jim Stauffer 2 weeks, 6 days ago

Not hard to understand Steven. Most KU fans are half empty folks at this juncture and stay home instead of going to the games. I do believe Miles has a resume that says he knows how to build a team. And that building such a team requires methodical acquisition and development of talent. With that said, if you see improvement this year it will probably be in the individual development and not in the W/L column.

Dirk Medema 2 weeks, 6 days ago

Brett - To compare the first years is apples and oranges. The roster wasn’t even FCS when Beatty got here. It’s no wonder we lost. The roster last year wasn’t terribly different than the year before, and yet we got pretty much the same results. I think your 3:1 ratio isn’t unreasonable but also part of the reason the results were disappointing to me.

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