Kansas football top 25 difference-makers: No. 5, Daylon Charlot
Neither of the last two times Kansas sophomore wide receiver Daylon Charlot found himself in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, turned out quite as he anticipated.
His most recent trip to the town he called home for one season as a wide receiver/punt returner for the 2015 Alabama Crimson Tide football team took place over Christmas break.
He went there to watch the national-championship game on TV and then partake in the celebration of Alabama’s victory over Clemson. One problem: Clemson won the game.
“The streets were dead after the game,” Charlot said. “Nobody was happy or excited. It was dead, like an evacuation or something.”
And then there was the time Charlot requested his release papers from Alabama, the first step toward transferring. It became a more complicated process than he expected.
“Coach (Nick) Saban tried to talk me into staying,” Charlot said. “I tried to get my release papers when my parents came up and they didn’t want to give them to me. My parents had to stay overnight. They expected to come get the papers and leave they didn’t come with anything to stay overnight. They had a long fight on their hands, a long fight. I think it was like three hours.”
Charlot said Saban told him, “You’re a great player. Your time is coming. Just trust the process.”
Charlot stood his ground and ultimately ended up at Kansas, where he drew raves from coaches for getting after it with a great attitude daily in practice during his redshirt season.
A four-star prospect out of Patterson, Louisiana, Charlot caught two passes for nine yards at Alabama, so he’s on the verge of his first extended game time in three years, Saturday in the season-opener vs. Southeast Missouri State in Memorial Stadium.
At this point, everyone on the team is ready for the games to begin. In many ways, nobody is more eager than Charlot.
“I was just talking about that with coach (David) Beaty,” Charlot said. “It just feels like it’s been long. But on the other hand, it feels like just yesterday I transferred.”
Charlot has not been shy about expressing his desire to return punts, but has been beaten out by Steven Sims.
Charlot is in the mix among those who will return kickoffs, along with Taylor Martin and Ryan Schadler.
“Sims is very good, very, very good,” at returning punts, Charlot said. “He can shift gears really fast and switch directions really fast. It’s crazy. He’s going to be real good.”
Charlot’s one of the team’s friendlier players, an extrovert teeming with confidence in his ability to make plays. He stood out in the spring game for his ability to make catches in traffic.
“Yeah, I’m going to catch it,” Charlot said matter-of-factly. “I have great reaction, great awareness. Whenever a ball is in there if I touch it, I believe it’s mine.”
At 6-foot, 195 pounds, Charlot has good size at 6-foot, 195 pounds, sure hands and plenty of speed.
“Daylon can outrun you if he wants to,” sophomore safety Mike Lee said. “If he gets in front of you, ain’t no catching him. If you catch him on an angle, he’ll try to make you miss. Daylon’s really explosive. He’s got strong hands, attacks the ball really well. He’ll be really good this year.”
KU's outside receivers fall into either the “X” or “Z” group. Charlot, junior Jeremiah Booker , sophomore Evan Fairs and freshman Travis Jordan are among the “Z” receivers. Sims, sophomore Chase Harrell, senior Bobby Hartzog and freshman Takulve Williams are in the “Y” group.
Beaty has not released a depth chart and Charlot said he takes nothing for granted.
“First, second, third, it really doesn’t matter to me,” Charlot said. “When I get in, I’m still going to do my job. That’s how I was taught here and that’s how I was raised.”