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David Beaty ‘absolutely not’ concerned about KU’s current 2-player 2019 recruiting class

Kansas University football recruiting

Kansas University football recruiting

Five months still remain between now and December’s early signing period for college football, but as of mid-summer, at least the Kansas football program’s 2019 recruiting class appears minuscule in comparison to most.

While seven Big 12 teams, according to Rivals, have at least 12 commitments lined up, the Jayhawks have received just two.

That number ranks not only last in KU’s 10-team conference — rival Kansas State currently stands in ninth, with six — but also last among the 100 FBS teams tracked by Rivals.

Buffalo and Washington State, with four commitments apiece, just outrank KU at the bottom.

Nevertheless, when asked directly earlier this week whether he was concerned at all right now about the state of KU’s 2019 recruiting class, head coach David Beaty began his reply with two words.

“Absolutely not.”

The Jayhawks, Beaty maintained, “could have a lot of commitments.”

Currently, though, the only recruits who have sent KU’s fourth-year coach and his staff nonbinding verbal pledges are four-star New Orleans quarterback Lance LeGendre and three-star Wichita tight end Clay Cundiff.

Why aren’t more rising high school seniors tied to KU football yet?

“We simply are making sure that we get the right ones. Your number to give and how many you get, when you get them, those are things that, being on the inside, you have some privilege that maybe when you’re not on the inside, that I simply can’t share, because there’s strategy involved,” Beaty said. “But right now, we feel really good about where we’re at, particularly with where our numbers are.”

While it stands to reason it may be more difficult to recruit players to KU with the public perception that Beaty’s job security took a hit when former athletic director Sheahon Zenger — who hired Beaty in 2014 and two years later extended the coach’s contract through the 2021 season — was fired in May, Beaty even balked at that notion.

“Our recruiting has not felt any different. The correspondence that we have had with the guys that we have on our radars has, if anything, it has increased,” the coach insisted. “But it has not taken a step back at all. If anything, I think it’s helped us moving forward. I think the kids feel the momentum going on right there, which is good.”

Just how many players end up committing to and signing with KU won’t be known for months. In the meantime, Jon Kirby, of Jayhawk Slant, said Kansas at least has the attention of some intriguing uncommitted prospects.

In June, Jaren Mangham, an in-demand four-star running back from Detroit, included KU on his updated list of nine finalists, along with Oregon, Colorado, Tennessee, Michigan State, Texas A&M, Texas, TCU and Arkansas.

Kirby said first-year KU receivers coach Justin “Juice” Johnson had led the team’s recruiting efforts with Mangham, who has eliminated such programs as Florida, Ole Miss, Florida State, Missouri and Texas from consideration.

Another compelling prospect from New Orleans, four-star cornerback Chester Kimbrough, is in good standing with KU, too, Kirby said.

Just like his Warren Easton High teammate, LeGendre, Kimbrough, you might expect, has been recruited by KU running backs coach Tony Hull, a New Orleans native and former head coach at Warren Easton.

Kansas' recruiting totals certainly aren’t on par with most college football programs for this time of year. But, as he is on most subjects, Beaty remains optimistic about the job he and his assistants have done on that front. The head coach stated he has worked his staffers “pretty hard,” as well.

“And there’s a reason why we do that. We’re committed to making sure we get things done the way they need to get done around here,” Beaty said. “So I take my hat off to our staff, because they busted their rear end.”

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Meet the other guys from KU football’s 2018 recruiting class, the walk-ons

Kansas University football recruiting

Kansas University football recruiting

Not every addition to a college football program can be a prospect with stars next to his name on recruiting websites.

While proclaiming the merits of his program’s 2018 signing class this week, Kansas football coach David Beaty didn’t gloss over the presence of seven less heralded in-state and local prep players who will be joining the Jayhawks.

Just as he did for four-star Louisiana standouts Corione Harris and Anthony “Pooka” Williams and the rest of the scholarship players coming in, Beaty took time to give his thoughts on some new KU walk-ons.

“We're extremely proud of our homegrown talent we're about to add to our roster today,” the fourth-year KU coach said. “The kids right here from this great state and the Kansas City (Missouri) area. Some terrific players that have great production.”

Here is a look at the five Sunflower State players and two from Kansas City, Mo., whom Beaty included in his National Signing Day festivities.

Ath. - Nick Channel | 6-0, 205 | Kapaun Mt. Carmel High

A safety and running back as a prep standout in Wichita, Channel is listed as an athlete by KU because the coaches don’t yet know what position they’ll ask him to play. He was an all-state rusher as a senior, going for 1,305 yards in nine games.

“Nick can play both sides of the ball,” Beaty said. “You can snap it to him. He can run it. He can play safety and he'll knock you out. He's one of those hard-nosed, blue-collared Kansans. He just likes hitting people.”


TE - Dylan Freberg | 6-4, 210 | Blue Valley North High

A productive target for Class 6A champion Blue Valley North in 2017, Freberg made 76 receptions for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns.

“This guy gets in the end zone a lot,” Beaty said. “He runs more like a wide receiver, but he's a big kid. Those big dudes are hard to cover in the middle of the field. You're starting to notice more and more people use that. We think Dylan fits that for us.”


QB - Billy Maples | 6-2, 220 | Park Hill High (Mo.)

An all-state Class 6 quarterback from Kansas City, Mo., Maples threw for 3,130 yards and 41 touchdowns as a senior.

“This kid can do it now. He can spin it,” Beaty said. “He's a guy that it's hard to not notice that production. He had some real interest here late and he hung with us. So excited about Billy and adding him.”


Ath. - Cody McNerney | 6-1, 200 | Wichita Collegiate High

A safety and quarterback at the prep level, McNerney is another player KU’s staff will wait to assess in person before assigning him a position. McNerney accounted for a ton of chunk plays at Wichita Collegiate as a rusher.

In one of the more bizarre moments of the signing day press conference, Beaty, after predicting McNerney could be a “beast” for KU’s special teams, went even bolder with his next forecast.

“I would not doubt that this guy will wind up in the NFL, because it's just the type of guy he is. He's a guy that nobody's going to think about and then he's going to be the guy making all the money playing in the NFL,” Beaty said. “Because that league is full of guys like that, and he does everything right. He works hard.”


OL - Jack Murphy | 6-9, 291 | Rockhurst High (Mo.)

“This kid's a giant,” Beaty said. “He's 6-9, he's a big, big dude. He's going to be a large human, no doubt about that. Another one we tried to keep down low, and being able to get him to come and be a Jayhawk was a coup for us.”


TE - Jack Parks | 6-5, 230 | Olathe Northwest High

His father, Mark Parks, is a former KU football player.

“Another long, 6-5 guy that can run down the field and catch the ball well,” Beaty said. “This guy can go in line, which is something you have to have as well. He's a guy that could get really big if he's not careful.”


OL - Spencer Roe | 6-4, 270 | Free State High

Beaty and company went back to the Free State well again this year to add all-state lineman Roe, making him the fifth Jayhawk on the roster from the in-town high school.

“He's a versatile guy that can play both sides of the ball,” Beaty said. “He can play on the offensive line, he can play the defensive line. He had a lot of production there at Free State.”


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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.

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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.

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

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

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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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‘Louisianimal’ RB Anthony ‘Pooka’ Williams picking up interest from major programs

Kansas University football recruiting

Kansas University football recruiting

The University of Kansas football program generated an explosion of unexpected buzz this past February by adding intriguing prospects to its 2018 recruiting class.

But 10 months later, with the NCAA’s new early-signing period for college football beginning Dec. 20, the vibe surrounding KU’s potential signees could shift drastically in the opposite direction.

Over the weekend, the biggest name tied to the Jayhawks, four-star New Orleans receiver Devonta Jason, decommitted from David Beaty’s program. Meanwhile, the only quarterback in KU’s class, Texas prep Clayton Tune, visited Ole Miss and currently describes Kansas as “still in the picture” for the quickly approaching signing day.

KU fans now have to hope Beaty and his staff can hold on to the high school commitments they have, with the biggest concerns being four-star cornerback Corione Harris — Jason’s prep teammate at Landry-Walker (La.) — and the group’s other remaining “Louisianimal,” running back Anthony “Pooka” Williams.

Harris announced recently he will chose between KU and Mississippi State. Williams, though, appears to have a number of programs to consider.

Sam Spiegelman, a recruiting reporter for SEC Country, spoke with Williams after his Hahnville High team lost in Louisiana’s Class 5A state title game on Saturday. The 5-foot-10, three-star running back explained how his recruitment has picked up during his remarkable senior season, capped by rushing for 1,403 yards and 14 touchdowns in five playoff games.

The speedy all-purpose back told SEC Country he not only has an offer from LSU but also Miami. Plus, Williams related, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Alabama and Auburn have shown interest in him, as well.

“A lot of schools have come here,” Williams told SEC Country. “When you do big things, big schools come in. Nebraska, Auburn, LSU, Alabama, Miami. … I can keep naming schools.”

Williams had stated previously he planned to sign with Kansas on Dec. 20, but Spiegelman reported the Louisiana standout is considering delaying signing until February.

If the increasingly popular running back had to make a choice now, he told SEC Country he would pick the Jayhawks, to whom he committed in February after hitting it off with running backs coach Tony Hull, a Louisiana native.

“It’s still Kansas, because I’m committed to them and I gave them my word,” Williams said. “It would be hard for me to flip my word on them. It’s about loyalty and it’s like a family, so if I go somewhere, I have to feel comfortable and it’s where I can play. We’ll see who can build a family [relationship] with me and we’ll take it from there.”

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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?

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“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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Handful of 3-star recruits include Kansas football on their shortlists

Kansas University football recruiting

Kansas University football recruiting

Early on in head coach David Beaty’s third season at the University of Kansas, the football program continues to make strides on the all-important recruiting front.

Over the course of the past several days, Beaty and his staff learned four different prep prospects and one junior college talent included KU in their shortlists of schools up for consideration.

The first came from Mississippi prep defensive end Deuntra Hyman, rated a 3-star prospect in the Class of 2018 by Rivals. While the 6-foot-5, 235-pound lineman from Meridian, Miss., made it clear in his tweet he was still open to other offers, he announced he would be “taking a closer look” at Ole Miss, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Louisville, Purdue and KU.

Another high school defensive end evaluating the Jayhawks at this juncture is Blue Springs (Mo.) lineman Daniel Parker Jr. Rivals’ 10th-best rising senior in the state of Missouri also has three stars next to his name. Parker announced via Twitter his top 10 finalists (in no specific order): Nebraska, Missouri, Memphis, Arizona State, Iowa State, Minnesota, Central Florida, Kentucky, Iowa and Kansas.

The defensive line trend on KU’s recruiting front included a junior college defensive tackle at Copiah-Lincoln Community College (Miss.), Jonathan Lolohea. Rated a three-star juco prospect by Rivals, Lolohea posted on Twitter that his recruitment remains open but he currently has a top four of KU, Kansas State, Washington State and TCU.

Add two more potential “Louisianimals” to the list of players contemplating KU in associate head coach Tony Hull’s home state of Louisiana.

Marreo safety Lance Robinson on Tuesday tweeted he, too, is open to further recruitment but listed a current top eight of K-State, KU, SMU, Tulane, Washington State, South Carolina, Arizona and Memphis. Currently un-rated by Rivals, Robinson, a rising senior at De La Salle High, is rated a three-star prospect by Scout and 247 Sports.

Late Wednesday morning, another KU recruiting target from The Pelican State, New Orleans defensive end Josh Smith, posted on Twitter he is focusing on a top six of Houston, Tulane, Arkansas State, Ball State, Colorado State and KU — and is still open to hearing from other programs. Smith, listed at 6-foot-4 and 247 pounds, is a three-star strong-side end according to Rivals. He also happens to be the Landry-Walker High classmate of the Jayhawks’ two most talented commits in the Class of 2018, receiver Devonta Jason and cornerback Corione Harris.

KU currently has secured nine commitments for its 2018 class, which Rivals ranks No. 23 in the nation.

None by BigSmithie.➰

None by Lance RobinsonJr.⛓

None by Jonathan Lolohea

None by Daniel Parker Jr®

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KU football targeting LSU commit; Jayhawks make DT’s top seven

Kansas University football recruiting

Kansas University football recruiting

Though the program must first survive several more months in the good favor of some of the country’s most talented high school prospects for it to become official, at this still-fluid stage the Kansas football team’s 2018 recruiting class has to be considered a massive success.

And thanks to the tireless efforts of head coach David Beaty and his staff, there’s potential for KU to add even more coveted recruits to their list of commitments.

Predictably, the biggest potential target resides in the home state of the Jayhawks’ associate head coach, Tony Hull. The Louisiana native already has inspired two of Rivals’ top 100 rising seniors in the nation — New Orleans’ Devonta Jason (No. 25) and Corione Harris (No. 70) — to verbally commit to Kansas. Now Hull and the staff aim to add a third.

Though he currently stands as an LSU commit, four-star cornerback Kelvin Joseph tweeted on Monday his intentions to visit three other programs: Alabama, Florida State and Kansas.

None by UNCLEFAT💸

A 6-foot, 185-pound corner from Baton Rouge, La., Joseph is ranked 39th in the Class of 2018 by Rivals.

KU received more good news on the recruiting front this week when Josh Walker, a three-star defensive tackle at IMG Academy, in Bradenton, Fla., announced through his Twitter account his top seven college destinations: Arizona, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, Rutgers and Wake Forest.

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According to Rivals, Walker also had offers from Michigan State, Cal, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, UCLA and many other Power Five programs.

Obviously, the interest in Kansas from Joseph and Walker doesn’t guarantee anything. But it does indicate the growing approval rating for Beaty, Hull and KU as a program in the cutthroat world of college football recruiting.

Headlined by four-star commits Jason, a 6-3 receiver, and Harris, a 6-1 corner, the Jayhawks’ 2018 recruiting class currently stands at eight players, and ranks 20th in the nation according to Rivals.

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KU football signs eight players from 2017 recruiting class, including QB Peyton Bender

Washington State quarterback Peyton Bender (6) drops back to pass against Washington in the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Washington State quarterback Peyton Bender (6) drops back to pass against Washington in the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Kansas football coach David Beaty and his staff solidified eight spots in the program’s 2017 recruiting class Wednesday, when a handful of future Jayhawks signed their national letters of intent on the first day of the mid-year signing period, which runs through mid-January.

Headlined by former Washington State quarterback Peyton Bender, KU’s influx of new talent mostly featured junior college transfers such as Bender, who spent his sophomore season at Itawamba Community College. But it also included one high school senior, linebacker Kyron Johnson, of Arlington Lamar High (Texas). Rated by Rivals as a three-star outside linebacker, Johnson recently told Jon Kirby of Jayhawk Slant he intends to enroll early at KU and go through spring football in Lawrence. The young linebacker confirmed his signing with Kirby Wednesday morning.

A prospect who didn’t commit to KU until late Tuesday evening joined the list of signees, as well. Kerr Johnson, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound wide receiver from Santa Rosa Junior College, got on board with the Jayhawks mere hours before signing.

As a sophomore this past fall, Johnson was named to the California All-State junior college team. The Santa Rosa, Calif., native caught 50 passes for 894 yards and 11 touchdowns in 10 games before signing on with Kansas.

Last month, Johnson told Kirby and Jayhawk Slant, KU offensive assistant Rob Likens traveled to the west coast to see the juco receiver play.

“I can’t wait to get there (to KU) and prove myself,” Johnson, a three-star juco wideout according to Rivals, said.

Outside of Bender and Kerr Johnson, though, Kansas added the majority of its help on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive tackle J.J. Holmes, cornerback Hasan Defense, defensive end Willie McCaleb and cornerback Shakial Taylor all earned three-star rankings from Rivals as juco additions. KeyShaun Simmons, a two-star defensive lineman, also signed on with Kansas.

MID-YEAR KU FOOTBALL SIGNEES

QB Peyton Bender

6-1, 180 | Itawamba C.C./Washington State

DB Hasan Defense

6-0, 175 | Kilgore College

DT J.J. Holmes

6-2, 310 | Hutchinson C.C.

WR Kerr Johnson

5-11, 180 | Santa Rosa J.C.

LB Kyron Johnson

6-foot-1, 195 | Arlington Lamar (Texas) H.S.

DE Willie McCaleb

6-foot-3, 250 | Northwest Mississippi C.C.

DL KeyShaun Simmons

6-foot-3, 270 | Pearl River C.C.

CB Shakial Taylor

6-foot-1, 180 | Mesa C.C./South Dakota State

KU’s 2017 recruiting class, as it stands Wednesday:

QB Peyton Bender

DB Hasan Defense

LB Jay Dineen

OL Joey Gilbertson

DT J.J. Holmes

WR Kerr Johnson

LB Kyron Johnson

K Liam Jones

WR/Ath. Travis Jordan

DE Willie McCaleb

DL KeyShaun Simmons

WR Kenyon Tabor

CB Shakial Taylor

DB Robert Topps

RB Dominic Williams

WR Takulve Williams

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