Reviewing the 2017 Kansas football recruiting class
A little more than a year has passed since Kansas football coach David Beaty introduced his 2017 recruiting class on National Signing Day.
The group, which featured a few starters, was ranked No. 57 in the nation by Rivals. Obviously, it didn’t translate to extra wins last season, but it likely will feature more than a few contributors to next year’s squad.
In last year’s recruiting class, the Jayhawks had nine players from the Juco ranks and 12 from high schools. Among the 21-player class, seven redshirted and Octavius Matthews was forced to end his career because of a heart condition.
From starters to redshirts, and everything in between, a breakdown of how the Class of 2017 looked at the end of its first season:
Peyton Bender, QB: From Itawamba CC, Bender earned the starting quarterback job out of fall camp. The 6-foot-1 signal caller lost his job after back-to-back shutouts against Iowa State and TCU. He returned as a starter in the team’s final game, ending the season with 1,609 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing 54 percent of his passes.
Earl Bostick, OL/TE: Projected to be on the offensive line with his 6-foot-6, 270-pound frame, Bostick made some appearances at tight end, a position he played in high school. Bostick caught an eight-yard touchdown in a loss to Texas, his only reception of the season.
Antonio Cole, CB: After playing at a pair of junior colleges in his first two collegiate seasons, Cole only played sparingly last season. He didn’t record any stats, participating in two losses when KU dealt with injuries.
Hasan Defense, CB: Starting in the secondary for the entire season, the 5-foot-11 Defense led the team with nine pass breakups. From Kilgore College in Texas, he had 42 tackles (34 solo) and two interceptions.
Jay Dineen, LB: The Lawrence native, out of Free State High, redshirted and couldn’t practice at the end of the season because of an injury.
Joey Gilbertson, OL: The 6-foot-4, 285-pound Gilbertson, from Wichita, redshirted in his first year in the program. Beaty highlighted his wrestling background during last year’s signing day.
Quan Hampton, WR: After shining throughout fall camp, the speedy 5-foot-8, 170-pound slot receiver quickly found a role on the offense. He had 21 catches for 145 yards in six games, missing the end of the season because of a season-ending injury. He returned two kickoffs for a total of 30 yards.
J.J. Holmes, DT: Out of Hutchinson CC, the 6-foot-3, 335-pound Holmes didn’t start playing football until his senior year of high school. He became a starter at defensive tackle, recording 24 tackles (2 for loss), one sack and one quarterback hurry.
Kerr Johnson, WR: With injuries piling up at the end of the season, Johnson earned more playing time. The junior college transfer from California had eight catches for 92 yards.
Kyron Johnson, LB: A backup linebacker, Johnson graduated from high school early and participated in spring football last year. Listed at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Johnson had 17 tackles and one forced fumble.
Liam Jones, K: Handled kickoff duties but lost the field goal competition to Gabriel Rui during fall camp. He recorded 17 touchbacks in 48 kickoffs.
Travis Jordan, WR: From Landry Walker High in New Orleans, the same school as safety Mike Lee and incoming cornerback Corione Harris, the 6-foot-2 Jordan dealt with some “health issues,” according to Beaty, at the beginning of fall camp and redshirted.
Octavius Matthews, RB: It was announced in August that Matthews had a heart condition and his college football career was over. His mother, Kristy Bradford, died due to heart complications last year.
Willie McCaleb, DL: Once viewed as a player who could start at defensive end opposite of Dorance Armstrong, the junior college transfer didn’t play in a game last season.
Cooper Root, LB: Out of Wichita Collegiate, Root redshirted last season. Listed at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Beaty said at last year’s signing day that he could line up as an inside or outside linebacker.
KeyShaun Simmons, DL: By the end of the season, the 6-foot-2, 285-pound Simmons emerged as a reliable contributor on the defensive line. From Pearl River CC, he finished the year with 19 tackles (4.5 for loss) and 1.5 sacks.
Kenyon Tabor, WR: The 6-foot-4, 215-pound receiver from Derby (Kan.) sat out the entire season because of an injury. Before Tabor’s injury, Beaty described him as a “promising” receiver.
Shakial Taylor, CB: Taylor earned the starting nod out of fall camp and held the spot until he suffered a season-ending injury. The 6-foot, 175-pound junior college transfer made 22 tackles with three pass breakups.
Robert Topps, CB: Bigger than most players at his position, the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder from Chicago is expected to develop as a cornerback. He redshirted during the season, but defensive coordinator Clint Bowen said in fall camp, “We have to invest time in Robert.”
Dom Williams, RB: One of the most-hyped recruits in the class, Williams was a four-star prospect. Battling injuries, his playing time was inconsistent, but the McKinney, Texas native finished the year with 176 yards and three touchdowns on 51 attempts. He added seven catches for 49 yards.
Takulve Williams, WR: Another player in the New Orleans to KU pipeline, Williams redshirted last season.