Spring football practices will feature competition galore in secondary


Kansas cornerback Shakial Taylor (back) defends against a pass to cornerback Hasan Defense during practice on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017 at the grass fields adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark.

Kansas cornerback Shakial Taylor (back) defends against a pass to cornerback Hasan Defense during practice on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017 at the grass fields adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark. by Nick Krug

All five starters in the secondary return for Kansas, but that doesn’t mean all five will start this coming fall. Plenty of competition will take place during spring football.

KU allowed 298.6 passing yards per game in 2017, 126th out of 130.

The coaching staff aggressively tried to upgrade the cornerback and safety positions and signed one high school prospect and four from junior colleges.

All five will be given shots to compete for starting positions, challenging corners Hasan Defense and Shakial Taylor, safeties Tyrone Miller and Mike Lee and nickelback Bryce Torneden.

Based on last year’s performances, Miller and Taylor would appear most vulnerable to losing their starting spots.

The five newcomers in the secondary:

Davon Ferguson, S, 5-10, 190, So.: A kick and punt return man for Hartnell College, Ferguson also had two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, and two fumble recoveries to go with 55 tackles (41 solo) in his lone season of juco ball.

Corione Harris, CB, 6-1, 170, Fr.: The first top-100 high school recruit in Kansas history since Rivals started ranking prospects, Harris checked in at No. 97 and was the sixth-ranked prospect in football-rich Louisiana. Cornerback is a tough spot to play as a true freshman in the Big 12, but Harris has the talent to compete for a starting spot.

Elmore Hempstead, CB, 6-0, 185: Arizona State, Central Florida and Iowa State also recruited him. It probably didn’t hurt that Hempstead’s head coach at Fort Scott Community College was Kale Pick, former Kansas quarterback and receiver.

Elijah Jones, CB, 6-1, 175, Jr.: Originally committed to Central Florida but changed his mind when Scott Frost took the Nebraska job. From Fort Myers, Fla., played juco ball in Iowa. Projects as someone who will play a lot, possibly even start.

“Great size, 6-1 corner, lots of length,” head coach David Beaty said of him on signing day. “There is no doubt about that. The guy is a really good player and we need depth at that position.”

Jeremiah McCullough, S, 6-0, 205, Jr.: A two-time, first-team all-conference player in junior college and member of the Dean’s List, McCullough was named team’s “Hit Man of the Year” both seasons at Hartnell. Sounds as if Mike Lee will have company in bruising opposing receivers.

Ferguson, Harris and McCullough are enrolled in classes at KU and will participate in spring football.

The Jayhawks have 20 defensive backs, an unusually large number, listed on the roster who arrived at Kansas on scholarship. The 10 who neither are newcomers nor returning starters: Shola Ayinde, Julian Chandler, Daylon Charlot, Antonio Cole, Kyle Mayberry, Emmanuel Moore, Ian Peterson, Shaquille Richmond, Robert Topps and Justin Williams.


Kent Gaylor 1 year, 1 month ago

Tom -

Agree secondary hopefully will be upgraded. Since you said, "Plenty of competition will take place during spring football.", does that imply all or some of the five have enrolled? In talking about newcomers, it is nice to know if they are already on campus.

Bryson Stricker 1 year, 1 month ago

Off the top of my head, I know Elmomre isn't on campus yet and I feel like Elijah isn't either. I could be wrong though.

The other three are 100% on campus, enrolled in classes and participating in workouts.

Tom Keegan 1 year, 1 month ago

Thanks, Kent. I'll plug that hole in my story. Ferguson, Harris and McCullough are enrolled and Hempstead and Jones show up in June. I'll also add the 10 defensive backs who are neither newcomers or returning starters. Thanks, Tom

Tom Keegan 1 year, 1 month ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Bryson Stricker 1 year, 1 month ago

HOLY SH**. Tom Keegan does know how to report with quality analysis. I understand the need to put some fire under our coaches bum and it is well deserved. But it is nice to see you write an article that brings everything to the table and flat out just talks about a situation that is going down.


I would argue however that Hasan's performances were much worse than Taylor. Shakial didn't get dropped off on regular occasion.

Hasan, Miller & Toreneden are players fighting for their job imo

Brent Kassing 1 year, 1 month ago

....Tom is a columnist which means he is being paid to express opinions. You not liking his opinion is another matter. I generally like them.

Tom Keegan 1 year, 1 month ago

Many agree with you on Taylor over Defense, but I liked Defense better. Doesn't make me right, could be I just noticed Taylor getting burned more than I noticed Defense.

Michael Maris 1 year, 1 month ago

I'll be interested in seeing how Robert Topps, III does. He has good size to him (@ 6'2'' and 190lbs). In fact, there's a couple of other CB personnel that will be in their 2nd or 3rd year of the program (and just be Red-shirt Sophomores or younger) like Ian Peterson and Shola Ayinde. Also, I'm interested in seeing how much more weight Isiah Bean has put on (since last season) as well. It will be very interesting to see how the 2018 Football Team progresses.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 1 month ago

McCullough and Harris sound like the most likely candidates to join the starting lineup though no ones job would be safe. Lee is well known for the big hits but he even talked about needing to be more consistent even if it meant not having the bigger hits because he too often missed allowing big plays for the opposition when going big.

The best news is that we are pretty much the polar opposite from last year when we had only 1 lightly experienced player returning and were scrambling just to find starters.

Is there a possibility that any of the JCs can redshirt? Defense and Taylor will be gone after this year so it would be nice to have some of this depth continue into the future. Guessing that Topps and the others are still a year or so away from contributing.

Tom Keegan 1 year, 1 month ago

Actually, Defense has two more years of eligibility.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 1 month ago

Gotta love those long term JC's.

Not only are they showing up, and getting on the field for this regime, but staying around for an extra year in many cases.

Thanks for the update.

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 1 month ago

Is Bowen still the Defensive Coordinator?

126 of 130 in the defensive secondary, wow, after 3 years...oh wait he has a couple with Weis as well.

I would have been a lot more supportive of Beaty if he had chosen to adjust his DC.

John Brazelton 1 year, 1 month ago

You have Coach Miller coming in to coach Linebackers. He's coached for some big time programs and apparently, he and Bowen have gotten along well in the past. I'm sure that he can add some polish to our overall defensive scheme. Plus, our defense has true depth in all positions this season.

[''] 1 year, 1 month ago

You guys are all hilarious. It's the same D-coordinator yet you all expect different results. Laughable. He had a preseason DPOY candidate (DE Armstrong) and surefire 2nd round NFL draft pick, a 2nd team SI All-American in Dineen and all Big12 DT Wise and still finished with the 118th ranked defense out of 130 teams. Was ranked 129 out of 130 in scoring defense giving up over 45 points each game. His defense had 4 INTs the entire season. There are a handful of DBs in FBS who had that all by themselves. Oh yeah... His defense gave up a mind-boggling 68 TDs (again ranked 129th) while Wisconsin gave up only 21 TDs (ranked 3rd). Somehow Bowen was invited back for his putrid work and you guys expect different results? Hilarious.

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 1 month ago

Please have higher expectations than 0-12, 2-10, and 1-11 for our football team.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 1 month ago

You apparently missed the fact that we lost 4 out of 5 DB starters before last year, and had virtually no experience returning. You also apparently missed the fact that all the people you mentioned were up front. Also, if you're still talking on preseason "awards" after the season, then someone underachieved. Maybe it was the DC, and maybe it was someone else. Was it the DC that got him to be the preseason DPOY candidate too?

But you can copy numbers. You must be smart - or laughable.

[''] 1 year, 1 month ago

Too bad I watch tons of CFB to know that U of Michigan lost ALL of their returning DB starters (including Heisman candidate Julius Peppers) coming into the 2017 season and that defense managed to finish THIRD in total defense (NOT like Bowen's 118th ranked defense). It's possible to start a completely new secondary and not finish 118th or 129th in points given up. Try again Dirk (Mrs. Bowen).

Bryson Stricker 1 year, 1 month ago

Here's something we shouldn't do. Compare the #5 recruiting class in the country to the #71 (2017).

There's also a difference between losing a 3 and replacing him with a 2-3 with no experience and losing a 4-5 and replacing him with a 4-5.

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 1 month ago

Was it Bowen recruiting for the future? I'm guessing that after the 2016 season, he would have known that his team was facing a need at positions, and he was the one that recruited the players to be on the field. He has to recruit and coach. He also is responsible for the game plan for the defense. I believe that this was his 5th season (this time around) and still has yet to figure out a way to get in the top 100 of defenses. We aren't saying he has to be number 3, but being consistently around 115 to 130 is just not acceptable.

Bryson Stricker 1 year, 1 month ago

The only way to recruit for losing players immediately is getting JUCO kids or 4-5* HS'ers. We went the HS route and got a few kids who are needing last year and maybe even this year to develop. We hoped Shak and Defense could provide stability but neither of them were capable of it.

Doug Cramer 1 year, 1 month ago

" is right. Beaty didn't have a fighting chance having to keep Bowen on this staff.

Bryson Stricker 1 year, 1 month ago

Isaiah Bean is done playing football @guywhoasked

Dirk Medema 1 year, 1 month ago

TK or Bryson

Last year Charlot switched to DB as well. Is he still around practicing with the DB's?

So much talent.

Bryson Stricker 1 year, 1 month ago

He will be at WR this year moving into Spring Football.

Brad Sherp 1 year, 1 month ago

The is the second year of our two-year secondary reload cycle, so I expect the secondary to be much better this year. Year 1 - Everyone want's Bowen's head. Year 2 - People want Bowen promoted to HC.

One thing not mentioned is the 5 HS kids from two years ago, who should be progressing in their development.


Since you are not mentioning them, has their ship sailed, or are they still potential factors for playing time?

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