Spring football practices will feature competition galore in secondary
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.