Signing-day suprise fuels already percolating optimism for Kansas football offense


Derby senior receiver Kenyon Tabor jumps up to catch a pass in front of Free State junior cornerback Gabe del Valle during the Class 6A state semifinals on Friday.

Derby senior receiver Kenyon Tabor jumps up to catch a pass in front of Free State junior cornerback Gabe del Valle during the Class 6A state semifinals on Friday.

A June 5, 2016 headline on screamed, “Nation’s No. 1 JUCO RB flips from Louisville to Auburn.”

Octavius Matthews flipped again, stunning the recruiting world by giving Kansas a monster signing-day surprise Wednesday.

Listed at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds on his juco roster, Matthews rushed for 645 yards and five touchdowns and averaged 7.2 yards per carry for Itawamaba Community College in Fulton, Miss. He played there with Peyton Bender, projected starting quarterback for Kansas in 2017. Matthews rushed for 70 yards on nine carries vs. East Mississippi, the school featured in popular, must-watch Netflix documentary series “Last Chance U.” Bender threw for 566 yards, 76 coming on a touchdown pass to Matthews, in a 44-42 loss that day.

Bender recruited Matthews, a native of Stevenson, Ala., to Kansas. This is big news for a KU offense already adding Alabama transfers Daylon Charlot, as a wide receiver and return man, and right tackle Charles Baldwin, freshman running back Dominic Williams, a four-star recruit from Frisco, Texas, and freshmen receivers Travis Jordan from Marrero, La., and Kenyon Tabor from Derby. Tabor gives KU size and physicality at receiver, a nice complement to LaQuvionte Gonzalez and Steven Sims.

Matthews reportedly averaged 11.2 yards per carry as a senior at North Jackson High in Alabama.

Keep checking Benton's Smith blog, "Smithology," for signing-day updates throughout the day.


David A. Smith 1 year, 3 months ago

Wow, our offense should look VERY different this fall. This is huge!

John Fitzgerald 1 year, 3 months ago

People can troll this comment all they want but we have potential for a bowl game next year. Not saying we'll do it, but I honestly think we at least have the potential.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 3 months ago

With 7 home games, a new O.C., a new QBC, the addition of Matthews and Bender, a 5-star kicker (Kohl's ranking), the Alabama duo, a 4-star RB, 7 JUCO's already on campus and the return of Dorrance, Mike and Joe and I wouldn't call a bowl game crazy talk. We will know a TON about the Beaty era at KU after this year.

Waylon Cook 1 year, 3 months ago

This years schedule isn't ideal(I like the 2018 one more), however we went 6-6 before Orange Bowl. So from winning 2 to winning 6 isn't the most unheard of thing in KU football history. (Guess Mangino did exactly that in his 2nd season...)

The negative Nancys of the world who wouldn't know difference in OL and a CB if asked will continue to belittle our program but if they haven't caught on to good things happening then please go be a fair weather fan somewhere else.

David A. Smith 1 year, 3 months ago

Oh, I'm actually expecting it. Bret outlined all of the reasons I would give quite nicely. We were already on the upswing, and now...with an amazing list of improvements, bowl talk is back on the menu.

Marcus Balzer 1 year, 3 months ago

There was a lot of smoke and mirrors with the things that Weis was doing but what Coach Beaty is doing is genuine and real. I will reserve future judgement until they get on the field but it is encouraging and refreshing to be excited about the direction this football program is headed.

Robert Brock 1 year, 3 months ago

I'm hoping that the Jayhawks manage to win two conference games.

Joe Ross 1 year, 3 months ago

A conference road win would be nice too! Decent shot at Iowa State next season.

Ryan Zimmerman 1 year, 3 months ago

I had to read this article twice to make sure I wasn't hallucinating. When's the last time KU football had the #1 in any position? Yes, it's a Juco transfer, but to beat out a powerhouse like Auburn (Despite their crowded backfield) is still pretty awesome.

Tom Keegan 1 year, 3 months ago

Correct, Crawford, who fell short of his prediction of a 2,000-yard season. Also, either Dayne Crist or Jake Heaps was ranked No. 1 drop-back passer in his class in high school.

Al Martin 1 year, 3 months ago

Wasn't Chris Martin the number one DE when Weis recruited him out of Juco? It's so easy to forget, since he never played a down after getting arrested during his first summer in Lawrence.

David Meredith 1 year, 3 months ago

Hopeful, but have to wait and see on Bender, since have been burned before with Crist and Heaps.... also hope Matthews pans out as well. Never sure on a JC guy....If Kansas can get a QB difference maker, then things will improve so much.

Tom Keegan 1 year, 3 months ago

They are hoping Peyton Bender is QB difference-maker and that would be huge. Daylon Charlot, Steven Sims and LaQuvionte Gonzalez are speedy targets and Charlot is pretty big.

David Meredith 1 year, 3 months ago

Isn't there one other QB who is coming to the team next year? From Louisiana?

Tom Keegan 1 year, 3 months ago

He was already on the team this past season. Tyriek Starks, dual-threat from New Orleans who played for KU RB coach Tony Hull in high school used this as a red-shirt season and has four remaining years of eligibility. He likely will start season third on depth chart, especially if Montell Cozart switches positions, and could use more seasoning.

David Meredith 1 year, 3 months ago

Thanks Tom...Certainly some talent to throw the ball to. Great opportunity for one of the QB's to succeed. More so than when Crist and Heaps were here.

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