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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
(Rivals recruiting rankings listed)
√ 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
√ 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
√ Jared Casey - FB from Plainville
√ Quentin Skinner - WR from Claremore, Okla.
√ Reis Vernon - P from Bixby, Okla.
√ Danny Robinson - OL from Overland Park