Kansas hooked five big football recruits but failed to get them all the way in the boat
In any sport, an eye for talent tends to be the most underrated aspect of a coaching staff that recruits well. Kansas basketball guards Frank Mason, originally committed to Towson, and Devonte’ Graham, initially bound for Appalachian State, remind us of that every time we see them play basketball.
Evaluation skills play a big part in college football recruiting as well. Kudos to the coaching staffs at Kansas, Kansas State and Duke, the only FBS schools to offer a scholarship to Todd Reesing coming out of high school.
So what do we make of Kansas coach David Beaty’s staff in this area?
Well, based on where five of the players who received FBS offers from Kansas and made verbal commitments to Beaty are expected to sign Wednesday, the staff does seem to know how to judge talent.
Defensive end Troy James and defensive tackle Zach McKinney are headed to Oklahoma.
Offensive tackle Grant Polley stayed faithful to Colorado after overtures from Oklahoma and Texas. Offensive tackle Jared Hocker backed out of his commitment to Texas Tech in favor of Texas A&M.
Wide receiver Reggie Roberson is headed to West Virginia.
Others switched as well, but those five were the biggest losses among players who originally committed to Kansas.
Switching schools is far more common in football than basketball and there are different ways to go about making offers.
KU offers early, hoping that being the first to offer will make the athlete believe that nobody believes in him to the extent Kansas does. Once an offer is made it’s out of the school's hands as to whether it gets publicized. The athletes, out of either pride or to gain more leverage with other interested schools who might be nudged into offering once they know competition exists, generally go public with offers.
It didn’t work with these five athletes, but ask yourself this question: If Polley had been offered by Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas and then Kansas became the fourth school to offer, do you think KU lands him? No shot.
Not all the big fish got away. Juco quarterback Peyton Bender and high school running back Dominic Williams, to name two, are among those from Beaty's third signing class who have the talent to make a major immediate impact.
Still, it will take climbing out of last place in the big 12 to make a significant move up the ladder in recruiting, and even at that it won’t happen overnight.
Developing recruits by coaching them up daily in practice is the key to winning, which in turn becomes the key to landing more athletic players to develop.
There are no trophies for second or third place in recruiting, but if there is a trace of a silver lining, however difficult to see, it’s that KU’s coaches appear to know a player when they see one. Given that, maybe some of the lightly recruited prospects who will be discussed at Beaty's press conference Wednesday will end up being better than schools who passed on them realized.