Two football difference-makers needed in every freshman class


Team Jayhawk running back Ryan Schadler (33) is hit after the catch by Team KU safety Mike Lee (11) during the fourth quarter of the 2017 Spring Game on Saturday, April 15 at Memorial Stadium.

Team Jayhawk running back Ryan Schadler (33) is hit after the catch by Team KU safety Mike Lee (11) during the fourth quarter of the 2017 Spring Game on Saturday, April 15 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Kansas football coach David Beaty has recruited three classes, run three spring football sessions and opens his third season on Sept. 2 at Memorial Stadium against Southeast Missouri.

He’s still a year away from fielding a roster with a full complement of scholarship players, but he’s getting closer.

Beaty has said in the past that he likes to recruit a minimum of two difference-makers per year from the high school ranks.

He certainly did so his first year on the job and it didn’t take long for a pair of high school recruits from Houston to establish themselves as difference makers.

Defensive end Dorance Armstrong became the first Kansas football player to earn unanimous All-Big 12 honors as a sophomore the same year that Steven Sims produced Kansas decade highs in receptions (72), receiving yards (859) and touchdown receptions (seven).

Sims and Armstrong both showed terrific potential as freshmen and made big leaps in their sophomore seasons.

Two players from Beaty’s second recruiting class showed difference-maker potential as freshmen and are candidates for big improvements as sophomores.

Safety Mike Lee quickly gained a reputation as a hard hitter during his true freshman season and had the game-clinching interception in KU’s first victory against Texas since 1938. Lee cemented the hard-hitting rep by slamming teammate Ryan Schadler in the spring exhibition.

Lee was named KU defensive player of the week against Iowa State and Oklahoma and he had 12 tackles and a forced fumble to go with the big pick vs. Texas. He started the final eight games of his freshman season and will start every game for the rest of his career, barring injury.

Left tackle Hakeem Adeniji, simply by showing enough smarts and toughness to start all 12 games in his true freshman season despite carrying just 265 pounds. He has grown to 290 pounds and if he continues to refine his technique and carry the weight without slowing down, he has the potential to become a difference-maker.

It’s too early to say call him that yet. Antoine Frazier, another offensive tackle recruited out of high school the same year as Adeniji, is another potential difference-maker. The coaching staff is excited about how well he moves his feet and he already is up to 285 pounds, quite impressive considering he was at 250 a year ago. Running back Khalil Herbert and cornerback Kyle Mayberry also are worth monitoring closely.

It will be interesting to see which true freshmen show the most potential during the upcoming season.

Linebacker Kyron Johnson moved well and hit hard during spring football. Shifty running back Dom Williams has extremely impressive highlights. Big wide receiver/potential tight end Kenyon Tabor plays with a physical edge and has great hands. Speedy Quan Hampton, a 5-foot-8, 165-pound receiver, has big-play potential.


Brett McCabe 1 year ago

The one thing that any college coach could do that would immediately separate his program from others is to learn how to get the QB spot right. Get the right guy behind center, consistently, and you'll go bowling pretty much automatically every year.

By the way, was shocked to hear about Stoops retiring. Eighteen straight bowl games and 10 Big 12 championships. A resume that looks quite a bit like Bill Self's.

John Brazelton 1 year ago

KU football will get there. When you start at rock bottom with almost no football tradition, it's going to take 4 to 5 years to get your program to the same level as every other Big 12 team. It's a major achievement to recruit one or two football gems when your team is not winning football games or going to bowl games every season. KU is on the upswing! This year could be the break-out season.

Kevin Robert Fest 1 year ago

I don't care if Jesus is your qb no offensive line no qb. I don't care if it was Cozart, Stanley etc you cant make reads or go through progressions with no time to read plant throw. Although Cozart was generally awful no matter how much time he had. Im encouraged with the talent and the type of talent who the coaching staff is getting to commit. No more making 2 star players into better players although give the coaches a lot of credit for making for example Armstrong as good as he has become. Now if the comitts are 3 and 4 stars their ceilings could be higher with the right coching. Some of these recruits are choosing KU over a lot of other more successful programs and that says alot.

Dirk Medema 1 year ago

Don't forget about this year's Louisianimals - WR's Takulve Williams and Travis Jordan. That position is a bit crowded this year, but in a year or 2 they might be ready to breakout. That could be quite a LA crew when you add Charlot and hopefully Jason to the mix.

There are 2 nice things about this class though:

  1. It has quite a few really strong JC players, and most were already on campus for Spring ball.

  2. We will finally be getting close to an FBS roster.

The question that remains for me though is what blueshirts will appear this year. Adeniji was a great surprise last year, and I believe there were several others as well. If we get a few, we might actually have a full roster, or maybe there will be more walkons that step up as they have in the past with scholarship worthy play.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.