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Small senior class means Kansas football still one year away from major step

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Kansas tight end Ben Johnson (84) gets hit by Texas Tech defensive back Kisean Allen (38) after a catch during the third quarter on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas tight end Ben Johnson (84) gets hit by Texas Tech defensive back Kisean Allen (38) after a catch during the third quarter on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

The Kansas football roster still lacks depth in a couple of areas, such as cornerback and safety, but it's reasonable to expect evidence of improvement in the areas of speed and line play. Even so, the big forward step still appears a year away.

Why?

Seniors. The 2017 team won't have many and the 2018 squad will be loaded with them.

This coming fall, just 10 seniors who originally came to Kansas on scholarship will suit up. Four came to Kansas via junior colleges: defensive tackles DeeIsaac Davis, Jacky Dezir and Isi Holani, plus guard Jayson Rhodes. Two came to KU as transfers from four-year schools: running back Denzel Evans and inside receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez.

Four of the 10 seniors were recruited to Kansas out of high school. Defensive end Kellen Ash and tight end Ben Johnson are in their fifth seasons in the program. Receiver Bobby Hartzog is a fourth-year senior as is nickel back Derrick Neal.

Given the tiny senior class, KU still will fall far short in experience from the rest of the Big 12 and then will catch up the following year.

In 2018, as many as 25 Jayhawks who came to KU on scholarship could suit up and for the first time since taking the job, head coach David Beaty should have a full complement of 85 scholarship players.

Comments

Dillon Davis 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I don't know if that big step forward will happen in 2018 when you will likely lose Armstrong and possibly Wise. I think a redshirt junior can offer the same, if not more, amount of leadership than a grad transfer senior or JUCO transfer senior. With players like Sims, Armstrong, Wise, Dineen, and others, I think the leadership will be fine on this team. Now at QB, yes there needs to be a strong leadership presence from whoever the starter is. But it's hard to establish that leadership mentality when Beaty rotates QBs like he has in the past. He needs to stick with one per game (barring injuries or blowouts, etc.) and let him establish his command of the offense. If we can get good O-line play (which we should because almost everyone is back I believe), QB play, and run defense tightened up, we will take that step forward this year and get over that hump of losing some of those close games.

Jim Stauffer 5 months, 3 weeks ago

My only area of concern is the O-Line. That is the one area that 5 years in the program makes a difference. Most other positions can develop both size and sufficient experience to maximize their athletic skills. We have the most athletic team I can remember in years. As the article states this is not the most experienced team, but the athleticism will offset some of that. We should see some competitive FB this year, especially in home games. That makes the Tech, WVU and KSU games very appealing IMO.

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