Kansas football limited to 16 new scholarships for Class of 2017, 14 verbally committed so far


Kansas safety Mike Lee (11) intercepts a pass during overtime on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas safety Mike Lee (11) intercepts a pass during overtime on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Catching the bait was the only aspect of fishing I ever enjoyed. It didn’t take long to learn that crayfish had one gear: reverse. The best worm hunting happened the morning after a rainy night. Turn over a rock on one of those mornings, unearth a worm and put it in a cup of dirt with the rest.

Then came time to stick the pole in the chilly waters of Skaneateles Lake. Skunk City. Boring. Much rather water ski.

I still enjoy turning over rocks to try to sort out puzzles that come with covering KU sports. One of the toughest to put together has been the scholarship situation for the Kansas football team. The NCAA limits FBS schools to 85 scholarships and no more than 25 in any one class. But it gets tricky because recruits can count forward, in other words, for example, they join the team in 2016 and count as part of the Class of 2017.

After turning over many rocks, I am confident I finally have sorted out just how many scholarships Kansas has available for the 2017 recruiting class. Under a rock the morning after a rainy night, I found the names of nine players who counted forward, which means KU has 16 more scholarships available to hand out. So far, 14 players have made verbal commitments to attend Kansas on a football scholarship. So David Beaty and some of his assistants are on the road searching for the final two players.

The nine players on the roster this season — most of whom redshirted in 2016— who will count as part of the 2017 recruiting class: left tackle Hakeem Adeniji, Alabama transfers Charles Baldwin, an offensive tackle, and Daylon Charlot, a wide receiver, offensive lineman Malik Clark, Arkansas transfer Denzell Evans, a running back, safety Mike Lee, linebacker Dru Prox, punter Kyle Thompson and cornerback Justin Williams (coming off knee surgery).

Look for at least one of the two remaining scholarships to go to a cornerback.

So far, KU has received non-binding verbal commitments from eight high school recruits and six from junior colleges.

The 14 commitments by position: Three defensive linemen, two linebackers, two defensive backs, three receivers, one quarterback, one running back, one offensive lineman, one kicker.

Breakdown of where the eight high school and six junior college recruits played their high school football: Florida (three), Kansas (three), Louisiana (two), Texas (two), Mississippi (one), American Samoa (one).

In the event all 14 players and two more recruits stay committed to Kansas through signing day (Wednesday, Feb. 1 for high school players), others still could be added as what informally has become known as “blueshirts,” which means the the athletes did not make an official campus visit paid for by the school. Blueshirts, because they did not sign letters of intent, are fair game to be recruited by any other school until they enroll, which can be on the first day of summer conditioning. They count toward the following year’s recruiting class, even though they spend the year on scholarship.

Next Wednesday is signing day for mid-year junior college pledges such as, for example, quarterback Peyton Bender, defensive tackle J.J. Holmes and some of KU’s other juco recruits.

Kansas should have roughly 80 scholarship players next season, which puts it in line with most schools. Transfers, dismissals, imperfect balancing of classes and players quitting leave most schools a few players shy of the maximum allowable 85 scholarship athletes.

Skaneateles Lake

Skaneateles Lake by Tom Keegan

Once signing day passes, that doesn't mean the coaches rest. I'm not sure who it was who first said that recruiting is like shaving in that you have to do it every day or you look like a bum, but I am sure that eventually will be attributed to John Wooden because that's what happens with all sports quotes. David Beaty and his assistants are relentless recruiters who keep their fishing poles in the water 365 days a year.

It's tough recruiting to eight consecutive losing seasons, but with Beaty's and Kenny Perry's Texas contacts, Tony Hull's in Louisiana and Clint Bowen's winning touch in home visits, the staff appears to have put together a pretty solid class, led by Bender.

Two offensive linemen, two defensive linemen and a wide receiver decommitted along the way. One way to look at that is that KU's staff has the ability to see talent in prospects earlier than other staffs, a good sign because evaluating talent is a huge part of recruiting.

If you count the nine players already in the program, the class becomes better than solid because Lee quickly developed into a hard-hitting playmaker, Adeniji started at left tackle as a true freshman, and coaches consistently raved about the terrific work ethic, team-first attitude and athletic ability Charlot showed in practice. Better records than 0-12 and 2-10 are on the horizon for Kansas football.


Suzi Marshall 4 years, 10 months ago

Darn good investigative journalism Tom! During the UT game several of us in the stands were talking about where the Hawks stood on recruiting. Nobody knew exactly. With the 9 already on campus and the guys coming in over the Christmas break, including Peyton, we will have a better than 50-50 chance to be competitive in the majority of the games next season. With a top notch defense, we'll have a chance to steal a couple of Big 12 games, perhaps even KSU at home.

It's all about wining 6 games and going to a bowl. Next year, we've got to be sure to win those first two games and then hope for win at Ohio to end the road losing streak. Noway do I see 6 wins next year but if we get 4/5 and are competitive, it will be interesting. If we get 5 wins or more, Beaty will probably earn a nice contract extension from the new Chancellor.

Tom Keegan 4 years, 10 months ago

I see four wins next year and maybe a bowl in 2018, which would put Beaty ahead of schedule.

I can't emphasize enough how glowing reports are on Daylon Charlot.

Great call on the Texas game by you and the Mr.

Suzi Marshall 4 years, 10 months ago

You were also all over the sense of an upset and only missed by a week. Logically ISU was the pick. We had the advantage living in Texas and knowing the mindset of UT players.

Herman is a great coach and is very demanding of his players. UT will be back in the hunt next year.

Frederick Heckel 4 years, 10 months ago

What about Baldwin? How are the reports on him sounding? He should be the anchor of our O-Line next year.

Tom Keegan 4 years, 10 months ago

I haven't heard the same about his work ethic. Then again, Anthony Collins had a reputation for not working very hard early in his KU career and ended up being an All-American. This much I know, if Baldwin is going to start, he's going to have to #EarnIt

Brett McCabe 4 years, 10 months ago

So, three years to essentially fix the scholarship issue. Good work by Beaty and staff, and a real statement on how much damage was done under Weis - it took three years to undo it.

Looking strategically at the commitments to-date, plus the count forward players, we could really be in good shape moving forward.

At WR, two top performers are back, and we've added one that may be better than anyone on the roster.

At QB, a potential Big 12-level QB who knows the system that we run.

At DL, a top-120 juco add-on to an already solid unit.

I will be very interested to see the Vegas over/under for this team next year. The defense should be solid, the special teams should be improved, the OL has to be better - just based on experience and maturity. If the QB spot solidifies, this team could be competitive, as Tom suggests.

We've already renewed our season tickets, it will be interesting to se how the sales go over the next few months.

For those of you who cannot attend, I again encourage you to start purchasing and framing a set of Coaches Corner season tickets each year. Here's why....

  1. It helps the attendance numbers.
  2. It's one less KSU idiot that can come into the stadium next year.
  3. The tickets are absolutely beautiful, and would look great framed each year in your den.
  4. They are really inexpensive.
  5. It's money for the football program.
  6. It will give you a talking point to any visitor in your home, and it will give you something to pass on to your kids.

Tom Keegan 4 years, 10 months ago

Wow, that's a pretty good six pack of reasons you just laid out.

Pius Waldman 4 years, 10 months ago

About the signing of players for the following year. Wouldn't it be possible to sign more than 16 and make them effective for next year. Looks like what they did last year.Remember we still will be short of 85.

Tom Keegan 4 years, 10 months ago

Great point, Pius. Yes, they can and likely will. In fact, in some cases the athlete makes a verbal commitment knowing he'll be a blueshirt who counts toward next year, so it's conceivable a few of the 14 made just such an agreement. So if two did that, then they would have four more. If four did that, they would have six more.

Tom Keegan 4 years, 10 months ago

Let me clarify. They can't technically "sign" more than 16, but can put more than 16 on scholarship with some of them counting forward. The blue shirts don't sign letters of intent. They aren't bound to a school until they enroll.

Michael Sillman 4 years, 10 months ago

Interesting column. How many of the graduating seniors were scholarship players?

Tom Keegan 4 years, 10 months ago

16 of them arrived here on scholarship. My guess is five or so more were given them along the way.

Al Martin 4 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for this, Tom! A number of us asked for this analysis, and you really delivered. Looks like it took a good bit of sleuthing. I appreciate your efforts!

Tom Keegan 4 years, 10 months ago

Thanks, Al. It's very confusing with the counting forward, etc.

Jay Hawkinson 4 years, 10 months ago

Tom, does that tally of 80 scholarship players include guys who came in as walk-ons and got scholarships after 2 years? Around the time that Beaty was hired you were talking a lot about the number of guys that came in with scholarships being in the low 60s. It doesn't seem like they could make up a deficit of 15-20 that quickly given how small these classes have been. Of course if they count 9 guys forward again next year they would be in that ballpark.

Tom Keegan 4 years, 10 months ago

Part of the reason they've been able to make it up is that some of the two-year walk-ons counting and also the classes leaving have tended to be smaller than the classes arriving. By the time it all shakes out it could end up being closer to 75. For example, let's say Ryan Willis decides to transfer, etc.

Steve Corder 4 years, 10 months ago

Interesting note: The Dallas Morning News reports that Baylor has only 1 commitment for 2017.

Tom Keegan 4 years, 10 months ago

Holy cow! Also, their new coach, Matt Rhule has a great reputation as a football coach, but does not have Texas ties. If Penn State had been shopping for a coach, excellent choice. But Baylor? We'll see. My guess is Baylor will come back to the pack, which creates an opportunity for Kansas to move up.

Jim McLean 4 years, 10 months ago

Tom, what using "grey shirts" to get some more young players in the pipline that won't count against the current limits. I don't know much about it but it seems to be a tactic that Bill Snyder relies on at K-State

Tom Keegan 4 years, 10 months ago

A grayshirt delays his enrollment as full-time student classes until the second semester after he graduates from high school. By doing this, the player can then play football one year after his graduation date. So instead of getting five years to play four seasons, he gets five-and-a-half. I know KU has tried to do this as well, but not with as much success as K-State. As I understand it, a gray shirt can participate in spring football that first semester he’s in school, but his five-season-to-play-four clock doesn’t start until the following fall. This makes sense with a player who’s a late-bloomer physically or one who needs extra time to develop.

Olympia Wilson 4 years, 10 months ago

Remember Harvey Keitel's line to Sam Jackson and John Travolta in Pulp Fiction after they cleaned up the bloody mess. Just saying.

Tom Keegan 4 years, 10 months ago

You mean let's not start ... quite yet? That line. I have trouble remembering movie lines because every time I try to I just come back to Bridget Fonda's two-word line (punctuated by a question mark) to Robert De Niro in Jackie Brown.

Olympia Wilson 4 years, 10 months ago

EXCELLENT Response! One of my favorite lines to.

Ray Winger 4 years, 10 months ago

best line...from 'Red River'...'two of the most beautiful things in life...'a pat hand and a woman from anywhere'

Dirk Medema 4 years, 10 months ago

It is good to get the understanding of the extra players that were on scholarship this year. If we can get a as many blue shirts this year we could be at full strength, though obviously still young. There currently are 11 freshman (true & redshirt) on the roster this year, though half are walk-ons but big (300+) boys.

Jim Stauffer 4 years, 10 months ago

I am not as sure as you are of the scholarships located to those listed as nine being on the team currently. I would suspect there are 3/4 scholars left to offer plus any blue shirts they decide to accept.

Michael Bennett 4 years, 10 months ago

I live in central Texas, Austin area, but grew up in Lawrence and spent most of my first 50 years there. He needs to recruit this area sooner and harder. I've seen a couple they should get on now; Marquis Brown a sophomore tailback at Round Rock High and an 8th grader named Seth Ford. Before you laugh about the 8th grader, he was the star QB on undefeated team (his arm strength is 50+ yards right now), star point guard on a league champion basketball team (he's 5' 11" and dunks easily in games), won the City high jump and 300 hurdles championship and is the leading scorer on the soccer team. The school is 1,650 kids.

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