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Predicting 2019’s top Jayhawks: No. 6, CB Corione Harris

Kansas cornerback Corione Harris watches a drill from the sideline on Thursday, April 4, 2019 at the indoor practice facility.

Kansas cornerback Corione Harris watches a drill from the sideline on Thursday, April 4, 2019 at the indoor practice facility. by Nick Krug

As the start of the college football season inches closer by the minute, here at KUsports.com and the Lawrence Journal-World we are counting down to kickoff by each day revealing a new KU player on Benton Smith’s list predicting the top 11 Jayhawks for the 2019 season.

Les Miles will lead the Kansas football team onto the field for the first time on Aug. 31 versus Indiana State.

For a true freshman, playing cornerback in the Big 12 has the potential to be demoralizing.

A year ago, Corione Harris didn’t just line up at that position, where he knew tests and gut checks were coming his way, he started 11 games there for Kansas.

Harris’ freshman year obviously wasn’t perfect. But it didn’t chew him up and spit him out, either. If anything it ultimately emboldened the 6-foot-1, 180-pound corner from New Orleans, now that he’s headed into his sophomore season.

“I want to make more plays,” Harris said.

Defending the perimeter and deep down the field, often against larger, older and/or faster receivers, Harris produced as a freshman. He finished sixth on the team in total tackles in 2018. More than that, he forced a fumble, intercepted a pass, recorded a tackle for loss and broke up six passes.

None of that was enough to satisfy Harris. He said he spent the offseason looking to address some individual weaknesses that he encountered in his first year of college football.

“Really, I worked on my eye control, footwork, pretty much all of my game,” Harris shared.

In reviewing his freshman season, Harris also figured out how crucial all those challenges were, because they forced him to seek out ways to better understand all that comes with playing corner at the FBS level.

“For me, first coming in, not really knowing what to expect from the Big 12, even though it’s a passing league first, it’s kind of like I had to learn the ins and outs of it,” Harris explained.

Over the past year-plus, he said he picked up much more about strategies and cues, with the help of former defensive coordinator Clint Bowen (now KU's safeties coach) and fellow defensive backs Mike Lee and Bryce Torneden.

“That kind of helps me to understand what I’m looking at now. What to expect with certain teams, certain concepts,” Harris said. “We just break it down into details that make it a lot easier.”

Even if you’re good enough a year removed from high school to start at cornerback, you’re inevitably going to endure some struggles, as was the case at times for Harris. But his fellow defensive backs have shared over the past few months their opinion that Harris won’t look the same this coming season.

“He’s improved a lot,” senior cornerback Hasan Defense avowed.

“He’s impressed me a lot. I tell him every day, ‘Just keep working. Keep getting better.’ We’ve got receivers that are pushing us to be great every day (in practices), and I feel like he’s really taking big steps maturity wise, physically wise and mentally. He’s been really working and I can tell,” Defense went on. “Coe knows that I never lie to him. And I tell him every day I can see him getting better.”

Older, wiser and more comfortable, Harris plans on playing an even larger factor in KU’s defense as a sophomore. And when it comes to his individual goals, well, the word substantial doesn’t even really do them justice.

Let him explain.

“My goals and stuff, I really set outside of the world, so I won’t let myself down. To me, I want a thousand picks,” Harris said of his unique perspective. “If I set that dream… As long as they keep coming, I’ll never get complacent. You get complacent with small dreams. I have big goals.”

Predicting the top Jayhawks for 2019 season

No. 11: WR Andrew Parchment

No. 10: ILB Kyron Johnson

No. 9: OLB Azur Kamara

No. 8: OL Malik Clark and Hakeem Adeniji

No. 7: RB Khalil Herbert

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Les Miles left Louisiana, but his name remains influential in ‘The Boot’

Newly-hired Kansas head football coach Les Miles shares the story of how he met his wife between radio broadcasters David Lawrence, left, and Brian Hanni, back right, during the "Hawk Talk" radio show on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at Johnny's West in Lawrence.

Newly-hired Kansas head football coach Les Miles shares the story of how he met his wife between radio broadcasters David Lawrence, left, and Brian Hanni, back right, during the "Hawk Talk" radio show on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at Johnny's West in Lawrence. by Nick Krug

The Les Miles brand grew to the height of its powers in Louisiana.

It’s where Miles coached the football team at the state’s flagship university, LSU, from 2005 to 2016. And it’s a place that he continued to call home for the past two years, during his hiatus from the sidelines.

His accomplishments there — see: Miles’ 114-34 record in 11-plus seasons at LSU, including two SEC titles and a 2007 national championship — are what made his arrival at Kansas this week so buzzworthy on the national college football landscape.

The hope among the suddenly energized KU football fan base is that the coach’s ties to the state affectionally referred to as “The Boot” will reinforce a recruiting pipeline from Louisiana that the program already has in place.

The Jayhawks’ current roster includes nine players from Louisiana: freshman running back Pooka Williams Jr., junior receiver Daylon Charlot, freshman cornerback Corione Harris, junior safety Mike Lee, redshirt freshman receiver Takulve Williams, sophomore safety Ricky Thomas, freshman running back Ryan Malbrough, redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Malik Clark and junior long snapper Logan Klusman.

Most of them relocated to Lawrence because of the connection they felt with KU’s third-year running backs coach, Tony Hull, a New Orleans native with immeasurable recruiting connections down south, in The Pelican State.

Since signing his five-year contract with KU, Miles has appeared open to the idea of retaining members of David Beaty’s current staff.

“When I took the job at both Oklahoma State and at LSU, I kept guys because I wanted to work with them and I wanted to see what their conversation would be about their room, the guys that they coached,” Miles said at his introductory press conference. “I wanted to see how the recruiting end was going.”

Miles plans to sit down and “interview” every current assistant, presumably early next week, after KU finishes its season.

Although Miles told the Journal-World he never directly crossed paths with Hull while at LSU, he definitely heard about the head coach at New Orleans’ Warren Easton High, where Hull’s reputation blossomed.

“I know Tony Hull — not necessarily so much him, but I know guys that know him and I did research on him,” Miles told the Journal-World. “He’s a very quality person.”

Hull, also currently KU’s associate head coach, was the lead recruiter for three of the team’s most heralded signings from the past few years: Williams, Harris and Lee.

According to Miles, he didn’t have any prior relationship with those talented Louisiana prospects when he was at LSU.

“No, I think that they got recruited when I was disposed,” Miles said. “But I can tell you that I watched those guys and they're quality men, and the corner, Corione? Yeah, he's, in my opinion, he's going to grow up to be a really good player.”

FILE — Former LSU head coach Les Miles, center, is mobbed by LSU football alumni of the 2007-8 BCS National Championship team during a halftime ceremony in an NCAA college football game against Auburn in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. Miles became the incoming head coach at the University of Kansas on Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

FILE — Former LSU head coach Les Miles, center, is mobbed by LSU football alumni of the 2007-8 BCS National Championship team during a halftime ceremony in an NCAA college football game against Auburn in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. Miles became the incoming head coach at the University of Kansas on Nov. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

During the past several months, Miles repeatedly was spotted at high school games in Louisiana.

And Lee, who remains in touch with those he knows back in his home state, thinks KU’s coaching move created some excitement there, as well.

“Coach Miles, he’s caught a lot of Louisiana guys’ attention. And most of them are going to either commit here or they’ll be thinking about committing here just because Coach Les Miles got the head coaching job,” Lee said, speaking generally on the new KU coach’s name recognition in “The Boot.”

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Freshman CB Corione Harris ‘workmanlike’ in 1st career start

Kansas freshman cornerback Corione Harris smiles as he pulls on his helmet during practice on Monday, April 23, 2018.

Kansas freshman cornerback Corione Harris smiles as he pulls on his helmet during practice on Monday, April 23, 2018. by Nick Krug

No one figured it would take Corione Harris long to break into the starting lineup at Kansas. Still, the freshman cornerback from New Orleans might have even flown past some of his highest expectations.

It only took Harris until the second game of his college football career to graduate from contributing reserve to a first series appearance.

On the same day that fellow four-star Louisianan Pooka Williams Jr. sprinted and juked to a spectacular debut at Central Michigan, Harris, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound corner, started, too. And while Harris, who played in spots off the bench the previous week, didn’t provide the same fireworks for the defense that Williams did for the offense, his teammates and coaches thought the young defender held up well.

“He handled it exactly like we thought he would. He didn't make any big deal about it. It was just very workmanlike,” KU coach David Beaty said.

Harris replaced senior Hasan Defense in the starting lineup.

“We felt he had earned that opportunity,” Beaty explained of the switch. “He had shown we could trust him in that position, that he had adapted to the scheme and the way that we were able to do things and that it really, ultimately, with him and all of them, it comes down to who we trust is going to be able to do it the best.”

Initially, it appeared Central Michigan (0-2) might try to test the true freshman often. On the Chippewas’ second play from scrimmage, quarterback Tony Poljan targeted Harris’ man, Brandon Childress. With Harris giving the receiver roughly a seven-yard cushion, CMU picked up 9 yards and a first down, as Harris got credit for a tackle, bringing Childress down out of bounds.

via GIPHY

However, CMU spent the majority of the game either running or throwing nowhere near Harris. He finished with three total tackles (two solo) in a road win that improved KU to 1-1. According to analysis from Pro Football Focus, Harris played 49 snaps (on possessions that he sat, Elmore Hempstead Jr. replaced him) and received a grade of 62.6.

Though far from proven at the college level, Harris’ approach and ability has long made teammates think it’s only a matter of time before he starts playing to a level worthy of his high school hype.

Junior safety Bryce Torneden said Harris — KU team policy doesn’t allow freshmen to do media interviews — looked like a natural at times, as early as this past spring’s practices.

“It’s very apparent to see,” Torneden said. “It’s definitely going to be awesome to see him put his whole game together with his natural raw ability that he has and the coaching that we have here.”

According to Torneden, Harris’ ball skills likely are his biggest strength in the secondary.

“When that ball is in the air, he’s a go-getter,” the safety said of the corner. “He’s going to go up and get it.”

Although KU picked off four passes at CMU, Harris didn’t get an opportunity to show off that ability. His best chance to join the takeaway brigade came on the first play of the second half. Poljan didn’t pass to the freshman’s man, but Harris was one of a swarm of Jayhawks zeroing in on a fumble — even getting a hand on it — before Torneden secured it. Harris hopped up off the turf and was the first KU defender pointing in the other direction to indicate Shak Taylor’s forced fumble was recovered by the Jayhawks.

via GIPHY

Taylor, who also returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown while playing opposite Harris, said the freshman corner passed a potentially tough test, making his first career start on the road.

“He played his game, and did what he had to do,” Taylor said. “Of course, there are going to be little things you need to work on when you’re a true freshman coming in for your first start. But I felt like he played really well being in that position.”

One example of Harris simply carrying out his assignment came later in the third quarter. On 3rd and 21, he played far off receiver Jamil Sabbagh, making him an easy underneath target. But Harris and senior linebacker Keith Loneker Jr. easily stopped Sabbagh 10 yards shy of a 1st down.

via GIPHY

The Jayhawk who knows Harris best, junior safety Mike Lee, a fellow Landry-Walker High graduate, expects the freshman to continue developing and improving.

“He could be real good when it gets to learn things he needs to learn. I think he does everything well: tackle, cover, catch,” Lee said. “He’s just a physical, smart guy. He’s fast. … I ain’t going to say he’s faster than me, but he’s fast.”

The defenders who have witnessed Harris’ growth since he arrived in Lawrence in January think his first career start and the lessons that accompanied it will only help his trajectory.

“Obviously, he’s an amazing player and an amazing athlete,” Torneden said. “I think he played great. He was very consistent throughout the game. I think the big thing about our defense is playing consistent. I think he did a great job of that. He did his job, he played his role and I’m expecting a lot out of him.”

Reply 6 comments from Len Shaffer Craig Jackson Lcjayhawk Benton Smith Dirk Medema

Corione Harris ‘realistic’ option at CB for KU as true freshman

University of Kansas football cornerback Corione Harris

University of Kansas football cornerback Corione Harris by Carter Gaskins

The closer the Kansas football team gets to its season opener, the more likely it seems fans who show up Sept. 1 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium will get ample opportunities to watch freshman Corione Harris.

One of the most eagerly anticipated debuts in the program’s recent memory might kick off with Harris, a four-star cornerback from Louisiana, on the bench as a reserve. But the way his teammates and coaches speak about the young defensive back who turned down scholarship offers from Mississippi State, Florida, LSU and many other programs, it sounds as though Harris’ talents are too considerable to leave unutilized on the bench for long.

Less than two weeks into preseason camp, KU coaches haven’t yet published or discussed publicly any sort of depth chart. So whether Harris starts or enters as a substitute versus Nicholls State in week one isn’t exactly concrete at this juncture.

A 6-foot-1, 180-pound freshman, Harris joins senior Shakial Taylor; juniors Hasan Defense and Kyle Mayberry; junior transfers Elijah Jones and Elmore Hempstead Jr.; and sophomore transfer Ricky Thomas, among others, as cornerbacks vying for the most coveted spots on the two-deep.

The group’s position coach, defensive coordinator Clint Bowen, likes Harris’ ability and potential, but he doesn’t broach the subject without quickly pointing out the first-year corner’s flaws, as well.

“He’s a talented kid. He’s got a long, rangy body. He has a good skillset. He’s a competitive, high-energy guy. He has tools,” Bowen began. “There’s techniques that need to be mastered and some fine-tuning. He’s not there yet; he’s not even close right now in terms of do it perfect every down mentality. But in terms of the skillset, he has it.”

What’s more, the man who will determine how much Harris plays in his first season as a Jayhawk thinks cornerback is a position where “God-given” talent factors more into a young player’s chances to succeed than his current stage of physical development.

“Let’s face it,” Bowen said. “Donkeys don’t win the Kentucky Derby, you know.”

At least for now, no one on KU’s staff wants to go on record anointing Harris, who goes by “Coe,” as a can’t-miss thoroughbred. However, when asked how realistic it would be to expect a freshman to come in and play cornerback effectively, Bowen didn’t come across as a coach ready to keep Harris off the field until he matures.

“At corner, it’s realistic. Because it’s not a position where your physical strength and physical development’s going to get tested,” Bowen said. “The things that are going to get tested are how quick your feet are and can you run. You can either do that or not. The difference between being 180 (pounds) and 200 at that position, who really cares? You’re not going to get tested physically like that. Whereas, at those big-body positions, a grown man at 21 that has some ungodly strength, I don’t care what you do, if you’re underdeveloped, he’s going to win.”

Kansas cornerback Corione Harris picks off a pass to Kansas wide receiver Kerr Johnson Jr. (14) during an open practice on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas cornerback Corione Harris picks off a pass to Kansas wide receiver Kerr Johnson Jr. (14) during an open practice on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Per KU football policy, freshmen are not allowed to do interviews. But the more experienced Jayhawks who will play alongside Harris in the coming months don’t mind talking up the touted freshman’s qualities or pondering his potential as a playmaker in the secondary this fall.

“He’s a stud, man,” redshirt senior linebacker Joe Dineen said. “He’s really raw. Talentwise, it’s all there for him. Sometimes the technique, just as a freshman, gets a little off. But he’s as good as I’ve seen coming in new.”

Dineen went on to predict “big-time minutes” for the Louisiana native this season, and the linebacker, like many KU fans, is excited to see what Harris can do.

Junior safety Mike Lee, a graduate of Landry-Walker High, just like Harris, knows the freshman as well as anyone in the program. Lee, who attended Harris’ signing ceremony in New Orleans this past December, thinks his former prep teammate has adapted well since enrolling at KU this past January.

“Coe’s just doing him, playing his game. Being a competitor out there,” Lee said. “He learned the new plays. He’s getting the hang of it. He’s getting the hang of what to do and what not to do.”

It’s likely to take at least a couple years for Harris to begin to reach his full potential at the college level. Even when miscalculations inevitably pop up for him as a freshman, though, his older teammates think he has the ideal temperament to survive them and keep on developing.

“Corione, he just has that demeanor,” junior cornerback Defense said. “Like I tell everyone, corner’s all about confidence. He has that mentality that, ‘if I did get caught on one play, I’m going to come back on the next play with the same energy, same enthusiasm.’”

Harris will need to take that approach with him into every snap this season, Defense added, in order to make it as a Big 12 cornerback. And the junior figures the freshman will.

“He definitely has that,” Defense said of the psyche required to thrive, “so that’s a big plus for him.”

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A peek inside KU football’s 9th spring practice

Kansas wide receiver Steven Sims Jr. (11) hits a pad as he runs through a drill during practice on Tuesday, April 17, 2018.

Kansas wide receiver Steven Sims Jr. (11) hits a pad as he runs through a drill during practice on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. by Nick Krug

Tuesday afternoon’s Kansas football practice marked the ninth of the spring for the Jayhawks.

The brief 15-minute window made open to media members provided at least a little bit of insight into some of the more minor details of the off-season work.

Here are a few observations from the open period:

• Kansas, on this day at least, had just a handful of players taking reps at punt returner as most of their teammates went through stretches and warm-ups elsewhere on the practice fields.

Joining senior receiver Steven Sims Jr. on the south end of the facility fielding punts were sophomore receivers Quan Hampton and Kwamie Lassiter II, senior receiver Kerr Johnson Jr. and sophomore safety Davon Ferguson, a junior college transfer from Hartnell College.

• Senior quarterback Peyton Bender worked on his quick kicks before passing drills began. On one attempt the QB punted the ball directly toward the pylon at the front of the end zone, along the right sideline. The ball appeared to head out of bounds in the air, right around the 1- or 2-yard-line, prompting head coach David Beaty to joke with Bender, claiming that specific placement wasn’t what the QB intended when he punted the ball away.

• Redshirt senior kicker Gabriel Rui looked just as accurate as ever, drilling field goals from 37, 42 and 47 yards, connecting on one as Beaty tried to distract him a few yards away with taunts of a pending misfire.

Sophomore QB Miles Kendrick served as holder on the field goals for Rui. When left-footed sophomore Liam Jones took his reps, junior defensive back Bryce Torneden, who played QB in high school at Free State, came in to hold.

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KU football adds unanticipated 3-star linebacker on National Signing Day

Kansas University football recruiting

Kansas University football recruiting

National Signing Day has arrived for the Class of 2018, but Kansas football coach David Beaty and his staff don’t have to worry much about in terms of which of their recruiting targets will follow through and sign letters of intent.

The time for heightened anxiousness came and went in December’s three-day early signing period, when Louisiana standouts Corione Harris and Anthony “Pooka” Williams joined three other preps and nine junior college prospects in making their commitments official.

Throw in Florida State graduate transfer Mavin Saunders and juco quarterback Miles Kendrick, who joined the program for the spring semester, and the KU staff entered the traditional February signing day with most of its business behind them.

Only four players who had previously announced their commitments to Kansas came into Wednesday unsigned: Blue Valley North defensive end Miles Emery, Louisiana linebacker Ryan Malbrough, Texas prep quarterback Torry Locklin and Coffeyville Community College offensive tackle Reuben Lewis.

That group gained a welcome addition Wednesday morning, though, when Kenny Bastida, an uncommitted three-star linebacker from Deerfield Beach, Fla., decided he would sign with Kansas.

According to Jon Kirby of Jayhawk Slant, Bastida visited KU this past weekend after being recruited by new linebackers coach Bill Miller. Prior to his senior season, Bastida reportedly had offers from Penn State, LSU, Michigan State, Wisconsin, North Carolina State and several other programs. He told Kirby in the past month he visited with coaches from Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Colorado and “a lot of other schools.”

A 6-foot-4, 330-pound tackle originally from Apopka, Fla., Lewis was the first of the group to sign Wednesday morning.

The letter for Malbrough, a 6-1, 180-pound linebacker from Cecilia, La., came through next.

Bastida signed Wednesday morning, as well.

None by 🦇®

In total, KU’s 2018 class projects to include just nine high school players, 11 from the junior college ranks and one graduate transfer.

Class of 2018 signees

Reuben Lewis | 6-4, 330 | OL | Coffeyville C.C.

None by David Beaty


Ryan Malbrough | 6-1, 180 | LB | Cecilia High (La.)

None by David Beaty


Kenny Bastida | 6-1, 230 | OLB | Deerfield Beach High (Fla.)

None by David Beaty


Below is the list of recruits who KU already had in place heading into February.


Mavin Saunders | 6-5, 256 | TE | Florida State


Jeremiah McCullough | 6-0, 205 | S | Hartnell College


Davon Ferguson | 5-10, 190 | DB | Hartnell College


Elijah Jones | 6-1, 175 | CB | Ellsworth Community College


Najee Stevens-McKenzie | 6-3, 225 | DE | ASA College


Azur Kamara | 6-4, 225 | DE | Arizona Western College


Jacobi Lott | 6-4, 309 | OL | Tascosa High (Texas)


Charles Cole | 6-3, 280 | DT | Butler Community College


Foster Dixson | 6-4, 250 | DE | West Los Angeles Community College


Stephon Robinson | 5-10, 170 | WR | El Camino Community College


Mac Copeland | 6-4, 245 | OL | Wichita Collegiate High


Nick Williams | 6-8, 265 | OL | Ritenour High (Mo.)


Corione Harris | 6-1, 170 | CB | Landry-Walker High (La.)


Elmore Hempstead Jr. | 5-11, 175 | CB | Fort Scott C.C.


Anthony “Pooka” Williams Jr. | 5-10, 170 | RB | Hahnville High (La.)

Miles Kendrick | 5-10, 200 | QB | College of San Mateo

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Updates: Class of 2018 prospects sign with KU football as early signing period begins

Kansas University football recruiting

Kansas University football recruiting

The NCAA’s new December early signing period for college football began Wednesday morning, and once the prospects could make their commitments official, the letters of intent from transfers began rolling in for Kansas.

After five junior college players and one graduate transfer became the first six to send in their documents, KU added its first high school signee when Texas prep offensive lineman Jacobi Lott did the same.

The biggest moment of the morning by far, though, came when New Orleans prep cornerback Corione Harris, a four-star prospect attached with this KU class for more than 10 months, announced he will sign with the Jayhawks instead of Mississippi State — where his prep teammate and former KU commit Devonta Jason decided to go.

High school and juco prospects have until Friday to sign, but they don’t have to do so. Players can just as easily wait until February 7 for National Signing Day if they so choose.

Putting it off until then would allow many undecided players to further weigh their options and visit more programs before making a final decision.

Below is a rundown — which will continue to be updated through the day — of which players can officially be called members of KU’s 2018 recruiting class.


Mavin Saunders | 6-5, 256 | TE | Florida State

None by David Beaty


Jeremiah McCullough | 6-0, 205 | S | Hartnell College

None by David Beaty


Davon Ferguson | 5-10, 190 | DB | Hartnell College

None by David Beaty


Elijah Jones | 6-1, 175 | CB | Ellsworth Community College

None by David Beaty


Najee Stevens-McKenzie | 6-3, 225 | DE | ASA College

None by David Beaty


Azur Kamara | 6-4, 225 | DE | Arizona Western College

None by David Beaty


Jacobi Lott | 6-4, 309 | OL | Tascosa High (Texas)

None by David Beaty


Charles Cole | 6-3, 280 | DT | Butler Community College

None by David Beaty


Foster Dixson | 6-4, 250 | DE | West Los Angeles Community College

None by David Beaty


Stephon Robinson | 5-10, 170 | WR | El Camino Community College

None by David Beaty


Mac Copeland | 6-4, 245 | OL | Wichita Collegiate High

None by David Beaty


Nick Williams | 6-8, 265 | OL | Ritenour High (Mo.)

None by David Beaty


Corione Harris | 6-1, 170 | CB | Landry-Walker High (La.)

None by David Beaty



Elmore Hempstead Jr. | 5-11, 175 | CB | Fort Scott C.C.

None by David Beaty


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A Louisiana perspective on whether Devonta Jason and Corione Harris will sign with KU

None by Whop

Pretty much since the day New Orleans prep teammates Devonta Jason and Corione Harris shocked the college football recruiting world by committing to Kansas, people have openly wondered about the chances the Jayhawks have of actually signing two such highly-coveted recruits.

Much more successful programs remain in the hunt for Jason, rated a five-star receiver by Rivals, and Harris, a four-star cornerback. But, like their former high school teammate at Landry-Walker, Mike Lee, these Class of 2018 prospects have been sold on KU as a a legitimate landing spot thanks to the efforts of Louisiana native Tony Hull, the associate head coach on David Beaty’s staff.

The Kansas staff, as well as the program’s supporters, have followed Jason and Harris closely, and now that the new NCAA early signing period is in effect, we could know just what their futures hold by Dec. 20.

In order to get a different perspective on KU’s recruitment of the so-called “Louisianimals” and perhaps a better feel for whether Jason and Harris will end up playing for the Jayhawks in 2018, I reached out to Sam Spiegelman, who covers LSU and the Louisiana recruiting scene for SECCountry.com.

What did you and others who follow LSU recruiting make of Devonta Jason not making an official visit this past weekend to LSU as planned?

“This was a complicated situation,” Spiegelman said. “Jason has a tight window to get three official visits in and had only four weekends to do it. He had planned on making his way to LSU for Nov. 25, Kansas on Dec. 2 and Mississippi State on Dec. 9. That left Dec. 15 open, but he has plans with his family on the weekend right before the early signing period.”

According to Spiegelman, Jason told him and other reporters the plan all along was to make an official visit to LSU for this past weekend’s Texas A&M game. However, some miscommunication with the LSU staff led to it falling through, as the Tigers were hosting a couple of other receiving prospects, five-star Terrace Marshall Jr. and four-star Justin Watkins. The coaches didn’t want Jason to have a subpar visit because they couldn’t spend as much time with each recruit as they hoped with so many big names there at once.

“LSU’s New Orleans area recruiter Mickey Joseph spent Monday morning at Jason’s high school to try and mend fences,” Spiegelman said. “He will go in-home with the wideout on Thursday, too. Between then, expect Joseph to try and find a time for Jason to officially visit LSU, whether it replaces another visit or is a mid-week official.”


How important is this official visit Jason is making to KU this coming weekend?

“The one edge Kansas has is the level of comfort between Jason and coach Tony Hull, and that Jason’s former teammate, Mike Lee, is having so much success in Lawrence. Beyond that, Jason is very cognizant of the state of the team and the lack of on-the-field success,” Spiegelman replied.

“Jason has made his way from New Orleans to Kansas several times over the past few months, so I’m not so sure if an official visit is really going to sway him in one direction or another,” he added. “This will be about talking to the coaches, getting an idea for the direction of the program and having a chance to re-connect with Lee for a weekend.”

Other potential advantages for Beaty, Hull and KU, Spiegelman suggested, are not only the recent visit mishap with LSU, but also the coaching change at Mississippi State, where Dan Mullen left to become the head coach at Florida, and Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead took over.

“If LSU can’t lure Jason back on campus, Kansas is all of a sudden emerging as a bigger threat than even a month ago,” Spiegelman said.


Who among Jason’s other finalists — Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Tennessee, West Virginia and Miami — are the biggest threat to beat out LSU and Kansas?

None by Whop

“Easily Mississippi State. I was close to picking State as Jason’s most likely destination after the LSU official visit went awry, but with Dan Mullen now embedded as Florida’s head coach, we need to see which members of his coaching staff will leave Starkville, Miss., and head to Gainesville, Fla.,” Spiegelman said.

“Like Kansas, State holds an edge with some of Jason’s former high school teammates on the roster. Most notably, Keytaon Thompson, Jason’s former quarterback who he won a Class 5A state championship with a year ago,” he explained. “If specific members of the coaching staff stay put on the new-look Mississippi State staff, they may emerge as the favorite leading into a Dec. 20 decision date.”


Is Jason still expected to graduate from Landry-Walker in December and enroll somewhere for the spring semester?

“Yes. He has worked very hard for more than a year to get ahead of schedule in order to graduate in December and be on campus somewhere in January,” Spiegelman responded.


What was the initial reaction in Louisiana when Jason and Harris committed to KU in February, and how, if at all, has that changed in the months since it happened?

“Initially, it was shock. Maybe even a little bit of awe,” Spiegelman revealed. “Jason, a former LSU commit, is one of the top-five prospects within the state of Louisiana. Hull made an even bigger splash landing the tandem of Jason and Corione Harris, along with Pooka Williams, Ja’Marr Chase and Aaron Brule’ in one junior day function. Later, he added Nelson Jenkins, who is now committed to LSU, and Josh Smith, another teammate of Jason’s at Landry-Walker High School, in New Orleans.”

Williams, a three-star running back per Rivals, remains part of KU’s class, as does Smith, a three-star defensive end. Chase, Brule’ and Jenkins backed out of their verbal commitments.

“It led to some early frustration among the LSU fan base, for sure,” Spiegelman related of KU’s recruiting haul. “LSU fans were calling for Hull to replace Joseph as the team’s New Orleans area recruiter and made fans envious of the Jayhawks. Jason has long been a fan favorite for his spectacular, highlight-reel catches. Chase and Williams are also big-time performers that LSU fans are craving to find their way into the Tigers’ 2018 recruiting class.”

The rabid LSU fan base, he added, probably has toned it down since, and wouldn’t lose too much sleep if both Harris and Smith end up playing at Kansas.

“Jason and Williams — not so much,” Spiegelman made clear. “I fully anticipate Williams will wind up at Kansas, assuming he qualifies academically. I can’t say the same for Jason, but if he did, the LSU fan base would not be pleased.”


Do you think it’s likely Harris and Jason are a package deal — wherever they end up?

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“If they are, the I’d circle Kansas and Mississippi State as the only schools in the mix for the two,” Spiegelman said. “Jason has been a priority for the LSU coaching staff, whereas Harris — another former commit — has certainly fallen down the board a bit over the past year following his de-commitment in July, 2016.”

Jason and Harris are not just close, he added, but best friends.

“Over the past few months, it seems as if they would be comfortable going their separate ways in order to find their own best fits at a college program. However, LSU is the only school where both wouldn’t be takes,” he said. “At Kansas or State, both could be a part of the plan.”


Is Harris more likely than Jason to end up at KU?

“Absolutely. It’s probably a coin flip between Kansas and Mississippi State,” Spiegelman began. “I know he officially visited Texas and had eyed a visit to Florida, which may be in the mix now that Mullen has landed in Gainesville, Fla. But I’d say Harris has been rather loyal to the Jayhawks and is weighing a future at Kansas versus State for the most part.”


How easy is it for other coaching staffs to use KU’s record the past several seasons as an argument to get Jason and Harris to back out — and do you think that will ultimately be the result?

“That definitely is on the table, but more so other coaching staffs are going to push the proximity from New Orleans or Louisiana,” Spiegelman suggested. “Kansas is a plane ride away. You can’t drive an hour up I-10 West to Baton Rouge or three hours through Mississippi to get there. The distance from home and their families cannot be overstated, especially when schools like LSU can preach playing for your home state and for your hometown school.”

According to the Louisiana-based recruiting reporter, both Jason and Harris seem unbothered when KU’s lack of success gets brought up.

“They are very bright kids and are well aware of the records at Kansas. They have also been reprised of the fact that they could play as true freshman in the Big 12 and perhaps spearhead a turnaround for the Jayhawks,” he said. “Coach Hull has done a terrific job prioritizing both Jason and Harris and keeping them on board for this long. Whether that sticks is out of his control and more will be a product of LSU’s and Mississippi State’s continued push.”

If Jason and/or Harris ultimately flip, Spiegelman thinks it would have less to do with KU’s record over the past several seasons and more to do with the overall stability of a more prominent program.

“There are more constants at, say, an LSU or a Mississippi State or a Florida, because of the program’s football history,” he offered. “Both prospects are going to go where they are wanted the most and they have done a great job entertaining all of their options, Kansas included, leading into Dec. 20.”

Follow Sam Spiegelman’s recruiting coverage at SEC Country

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Five-star Kansas commit Devonta Jason praised for talent and character

Kansas University football recruiting

Kansas University football recruiting

Class of 2018 wide receiver Devonta Jason became the most discussed prospect in recent Kansas football memory when the New Orleans native verbally committed to David Beaty’s program in February.

Despite some skepticism on whether Jason, rated the No. 22 prep senior in the nation and a five-star talent by Rivals, will indeed end up playing at KU because commitments are non-binding, the athletic, 6-foot-3 receiver coveted by LSU and a number of other high-profile programs remains on board some five months away from his anticipated December graduation and the NCAA’s new early-signing period.

Associate head coach Tony Hull, responsible for recruiting Jason and other Louisiana standouts, such as KU sophomore safety Mike Lee (also an early Landry-Walker grad), might deserve another raise if Jason and his high school teammate, four-star cornerback Corione Harris, actually end up at Kansas and aren’t stolen away by a more successful program before they sign their letters of intent.

In a new video feature for NOLA.com, recruiting analyst Jimmy Smith explains why Jason is so intriguing for Kansas and the many other programs from which he has received offers, such as Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

“He’s 6-3, 205 pounds and he has the leaping ability of most NBA guards,” Smith says of Jason. “His athleticism, explosiveness, leaping ability — I mean, the kid’s been impressive from Day 1 of his prep career and he’s been a dominant force throughout high school.”

The way Smith, who first watched Jason as a freshman, describes the KU pledge, the receiver has the character to succeed, as well.

“Devonta has a desire to be great, and so he’s got that work ethic and that drive, and that will help propel him through his future. He’s doing it for a lot more than just himself,” Smith says. “He puts his family on his back, his community on his back.

Jason told NOLA.com the drug scene and violence he has witnessed in his community while growing up served as a form of inspiration.

“It just keeps me going,” Jason says in the video. “I don’t want to be in that predicament. To not put my life in danger.”

He began playing football at 11 as an offensive lineman, Jason reveals, but his athleticism and hands made him a natural at receiver. Not to mention his competitive nature.

What kind of play does he enjoy most, while trying to beat a defensive back (or backs) in coverage?

“Most times I like to go up top and make them feel like even less of a DB,” Jason says.

The prep star showed off some of those skills this past weekend at the USA Football 7v7 National Championship Series Tournament, in Frisco, Texas. In a highlight video from the event produced by Scout.com, Jason displays his open-field speed and footwork, as well as his ability to out-muscle or out-leap his defender to make a play.

He’s a long way from officially becoming a Jayhawk, but Jason could be a program-altering recruit for Beaty and his staff.

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5-star KU football commit Devonta Jason: ‘I’m just going to be me’

Kansas University football recruiting

Kansas University football recruiting

The first five-star prospect to ever commit to the University of Kansas football program, New Orleans prep receiver Devonta Jason has heard the murmurs and seen the skepticism floating around the recruiting world in response to the non-binding pledge he made back in February.

That much was clear in Jason’s comments to Bleacher Report, for a feature titled: Do You Believe 5-star WR Devonta Jason is Kansas-bound? LSU and Alabama don’t.

"People were asking me if they gave me something," Jason told Bleacher Report’s Adam Kramer. "Everybody was going crazy. They wanted to know what I was thinking. I'm just going to be me."

A 6-foot-3 rising senior at New Orleans’ Landry-Walker High, Jason, of course, is the marquee prospect in third-year KU head coach David Beaty’s Louisiana-heavy 2018 recruiting class. Rivals ranks Jason as the 22nd-best player in the country, and considering KU’s current seven-year streak of winning three games or fewer, many outsiders scratch their heads or scoff at the idea of Jason officially signing with the Jayhawks months from now.

According to Jason, a coach from another program texted him “really?” upon hearing of his verbal commitment to Beaty, associate head coach and Louisiana native Tony Hull and Kansas.

"It really didn't get to me," Jason told Bleacher Report. "I know they went 2-10 and 0-12 the year before. It's really not about what school you go to or being a big fish in a big pond. It's about your future and making an impact on your life. It's about being known and recognized."

Given that most prospects of Jason’s caliber typically sign with the likes of Alabama, Florida State, Clemson, Ohio State or some other renowned program, Rivals’ national recruiting director Mike Farrell characterized Jason as a “unicorn.”

Farrell explained: “I’ve never seen one in person, and I don't know if they exist. If this sticks, it will prove that they do."

Hull, who also helped lure commitments from Jason’s current Landry-Walker teammates, four-star cornerback Corione Harris and three-star defensive end Josh Smith, as well as former L-W standout Mike Lee, gets credit for making this unique recruiting situation possible. Jason said he connected with Hull when he visited Lawrence.

“Being as far away as I was,” he told Bleacher Report, “it still felt like home.”

As Jason had stated previously, he intends to graduate from Landry-Walker early and enroll in college for the spring semester of 2018, ahead of his freshman year of college football.

Read the full feature on Devonta Jason at Bleacher Report

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