David Beaty shaping up as Charlie Light on recruiting front
Never let it be said that there isn’t anyone in Lawrence who thinks Charlie Weis took the right recruiting approach during his three signing seasons as head coach of the Kansas football program.
If imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery, then count current Kansas head coach David Beaty as a Weis fan.
Call him Charlie Light.
In his first three recruiting classes for Kansas, Beaty gave scholarships to 29 transfers, nearly 10 a year. He’s well on his way to maintaining that average in this, his fourth recruiting class.
At the moment, two days before the early three-day signing period begins, Kansas has received 13 verbal commitments. Six high school prospects, six junior-college recruits and one graduate transfer make up the class so far.
Beaty’s failure to load up on high school prospects is similar to Weis’ approach, although Beaty is recruiting more players who went to junior colleges after qualifying academically out of high school. He also is recruiting more players with three remaining years of eligibility.
Still, the continued fascination with transfers shows Beaty isn’t making inroads with high schools in Texas, Kansas, including the Kansas City area, and Oklahoma, traditional fertile recruiting grounds for KU football.
What’s interesting about that is that when explaining on a late-season conference call why he deserved to come back to Kansas for a fourth season, Beaty invoked the high school-recruiting defense.
“When I came here, I said, 'You’re going to have to give me my contract to get things taken care of here,' because that’s how you build it,” Beaty said, referencing his original five-year deal. “You build it with high school players that have been in your program for four to five years. And right now I look at our roster of scholarship guys who are playing, basically that are fourth- or fifth-year guys and there are eight of them. We have eight.”
The Kansas football coach in 2021 will be lucky to have eight fourth-and-fifth year players.
Athletic director Sheahon Zenger issued a statement the day that Beaty said, “You build it with high school players.” In part, it read: “I have faith, as I did the day we hired him, that he will rebuild this program the right way.”
In an interview with the Journal-World after the season, Zenger said that he and Beaty would keep an eye on how recruiting impacts classes down the road, but that he would not put any specific limit on the number of transfers Beaty recruits.
Beaty’s comments about building it the right way with high school recruits served as a nice reminder that’s always best to pay more attention to what coaches do than to what they say.
The six junior-college transfers giving verbal pledges to Kansas in this recruiting period: defensive backs Davon Ferguson, Elmore Hempstead and Jeremiah McCullough, defensive ends Foster Dixon and Najee Stevens-McKenzie, wide receiver Stephon Robinson. Graduate transfer Marvin Saunders, a tight end from Florida State, makes seven transfers so far this season.
Saunders was recruited to replace Ben Johnson, a need that arose once Johnson heir apparent Jace Sternberger transferred to a junior college after spending two seasons in the Kansas. Sternberger redshirted in 2015 and was limited to mostly special-teams duty in 2016, when he caught one pass for five yards. Sternberger averaged 16 yards on his 21 receptions and caught six touchdown passes for Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. He recently accepted a scholarship offer from new Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher.
Verbal commitments are non-binding and in football, much more than basketball, coaches at all schools nervously stare at the fax machine because recruits have been known to make last-minute switches known as signing-day surprises, so it will be interesting to see if Kansas can keep all six of its high school pledges, including cornerback Coe Harris and running back Pooka Williams, a pair of prospects from Louisiana receiving a lot of attention from national powerhouses.