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