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A look at the new names and numbers on Kansas football’s 2017 roster

Incoming University of Kansas freshman Dom Williams, a four-star running back from Independence High, in Frisco, Texas, arrives at KU Sunday morning.

Incoming University of Kansas freshman Dom Williams, a four-star running back from Independence High, in Frisco, Texas, arrives at KU Sunday morning. by Photo courtesy of KU football

Kansas football players report for preseason camp on July 31, but the 2017 roster began materializing long before that thanks to the numerous newcomers who arrived earlier this summer.

As is the case every year, the roster looks significantly different entering August practices than it did in the spring.

Some key returning Jayhawks changed their jersey numbers, a few players left the program and an influx of new talent arrived.

Here’s a breakdown of how the composition of coach David Beaty’s team has evolved since the conclusion of spring football.

Check out the complete 2017 Kansas football roster

New numbers

Team Jayhawk wide receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez (1) is caught between Team KU linebacker Mike Lee (11) and Team KU cornerback DeAnte Ford (27) during the first quarter of the 2017 Spring Game on Saturday, April 15 at Memorial Stadium.

Team Jayhawk wide receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez (1) is caught between Team KU linebacker Mike Lee (11) and Team KU cornerback DeAnte Ford (27) during the first quarter of the 2017 Spring Game on Saturday, April 15 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

The majority of KU’s core maintained the status quo in terms of the digits they will wear on their chests and backs. But some opted for a switch.

You won’t see receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez blazing past defenders in his No. 1 jersey anymore. For his senior season, Gonzalez will wear No. 82.

Likewise, junior linebacker Keith Loneker Jr. changed from No. 33 to No. 47, sophomore defensive end Maciah Long shifted from No. 3 to No. 9, and sophomore defensive back Bryce Torneden switched from No. 12 to No. 1.

Roster additions

We now know the numbers many key members of KU’s 2017 recruiting class will wear during their introductory year in the program.

First, the freshmen:

None by QUAN HAMPTON

  • Receiver Quan Hampton: No. 6

  • Tight end/receiver Kenyon Tabor: No. 13

  • Receiver Takulve Williams: No. 16

  • Receiver Travis Jordan: No. 17

  • Running back Dom Williams: No. 25

  • Cornerback Robert Topps III: No. 28

  • Linebacker Cooper Root: No. 30

  • Linebacker Jay Dineen: No. 43

  • Kicker Liam Jones: No. 46

  • Offensive lineman Earl Bostick: No. 68

  • Offensive lineman Joseph Gilbertson: No. 79

A couple of crucial junior college signees who weren’t able to enroll in the spring also got to Lawrence in the summer for offseason training: junior safety Antonio Cole (No. 14) and junior running back Octavius Matthews (No. 12).

Additionally, Kansas added a pair of lineman via transfer this offseason: graduate transfer and former Nebraska offensive lineman Zach Hannon (No. 56) and sophomore offensive lineman Andru Tovi (No. 77), formerly of Pima Community College (Ariz.).

While Beaty chooses not to reveal which players are on scholarship, a number of incoming freshmen are expected to enter the program as walk-ons. Below are some players who likely fall in that category, most of whom were highlighted by Beaty at his Signing Day press conference back in February:

  • Fullback Quinton McQuillan: No. 36

  • Safety Tom Barrett: No. 41

  • Kicker Cole Brungardt: No. 37

  • Safety Nick Caudle: No. 45

  • Fullback Sam Schroeder: No. 46

  • Offensive lineman Sam Burt: No. 59

  • Offensive lineman Jack Williams: No. 62

  • Receiver Hunter Kaufman: No. 80

  • Linebacker Kashe Boatner: No. 87

The current KU roster also includes some names likely to be completely new to most fans, as they didn’t get the benefit of any Signing Day buzz. Quarterback Miles Fallin (No.15, from Canyon County, Calif.), defensive end Jelani Arnold (No. 91, from Irving, Texas) and defensive tackle Dai Coye Haley (No. 92, from Atchison) all are college freshmen.

Meanwhile, running back Kezelee Flomo (No. 30, formerly of North Dakota State College of Science) is a sophomore. And although his name didn’t appear on KU’s spring game roster, he actually carried the ball late in the fourth quarter of the open scrimmage.

Roster subtractions

Three players who were involved in the program in the spring have since left the Jayhawks.

As previously reported, tight end Jace Sternberger (Northeastern Oklahoma A & M College) and linebacker Sam Skwarlo (Coffeyville Community College) decided to transfer, in efforts to give their football careers a boost.

Offensive lineman Joe Gibson, on the other hand, gave up football after a neck injury in 2016.

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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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David Beaty hopes prep recruits utilize new 3-day December signing period

Kansas head football coach David Beaty listens to a reporter's question during the Big 12 NCAA college football media day in Frisco, Texas, Monday, July 17, 2017. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Kansas head football coach David Beaty listens to a reporter's question during the Big 12 NCAA college football media day in Frisco, Texas, Monday, July 17, 2017. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Frisco, Texas — National Signing Day could look significantly different this year for the college football coaches eagerly waiting to see their recruits’ names on official NCAA documentation. Whether that’s a positive or negative, Kansas football coach David Beaty said, remains to be determined.

It used to be prep football talents couldn’t sign with their college programs of choice until February. But the NCAA is introducing this year an earlier option, in late December, lasting just 72 hours.

Asked at Big 12 Media Days about how the new early signing period for high school prospects could change the way Beaty and his staff approach the uber-competitive world of recruiting, the third-year Kansas coach had to take a wait-and-see stance.

“I don’t know that we’ll know the answer to that for a couple years,” Beaty admitted Monday at Ford Center, while speaking with a group of reporters. “I’d like to say that the research we’ve done is going to be accurate, but the truth is when you get major rule changes like that it usually takes a few years for all the things to shake out.”

High school football seniors this winter will have the option of signing with a university between Dec. 20-22 — also the first three days of the mid-year signing period for junior college players. If they don’t make their commitments official then, the prospects still can do so on Feb. 7, 2018.

“One of the most interesting things for me,” Beaty said, “is when kids are committed and that first period comes around how many of them actually sign and how many don’t, because if they don’t sign then, they’re not committed.”

KU’s 2018 recruiting class has the potential to be the most significant in program history, thanks to the non-binding verbal commitments Beaty and his staff already have received from five-star New Orleans receiver Devonta Jason and his Landry-Walker High teammate, four-star cornerback Corione Harris.

Jason has stated in previous interviews he is on pace to graduate high school early and enroll at the university of his choice for the 2018 spring semester to get a head start on his college football preparation. So Beaty and associate head coach Tony Hull, who recruited the first five-star commit in program history, might have known Jason’s status by December even if the new signing period had not been implemented. But the recruiting rule change still holds importance for the rest of KU’s targets. Beaty indicated he would like to get as much of the 2018 signing class officially on board as soon as possible.

“Now, they still may sign on that second one,” the coach added, referencing the later February date. “But if there’s a paper available and they don’t sign it, that’ll be very interesting for me to see how many kids actually open their recruiting back up at that point, which I think that there will be some.”

As of Tuesday, Rivals ranked KU’s 2018 class 28th in the nation, thanks to the presence of Jason and Harris. The Jayhawks’ list of commitments currently stands at 13 players, nine of whom have been assessed a three-star ranking.

An oral commitment from a recruit never has provided college coaches with much certainty. Beaty said those in his profession will keep refining their sales pitches and doing all they can to get players signed. Three days in December now provide them with a new wrinkle in those endeavors.

“But for the most part if you do the studies and you look at basically signing trends, the majority of the kids still sign with the guys that they’re committed to and they don’t switch very often,” Beaty added. “I think (switching is) becoming a little more prevalent, but I think that’s where it comes down to coaches and their talent, in terms of how well they continue to recruit. Because make no mistake it’s not done with them there (when players commit).”

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David Beaty outlines long process it will take to turn KU football into a winning program

Kansas head coach David Beaty takes his seat before speaking to reporters during the Big 12 NCAA college football media day in Frisco, Texas, Monday, July 17, 2017. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Kansas head coach David Beaty takes his seat before speaking to reporters during the Big 12 NCAA college football media day in Frisco, Texas, Monday, July 17, 2017. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Frisco, Texas — David Beaty didn’t accept the head football coaching job at the University of Kansas to finish at the bottom of the Big 12 standings every year. But Beaty made it clear Monday morning at the Ford Center, during the conference’s annual media days, he understands the program has quite a way to go before it’s humming along in the manner he envisions.

In Beaty’s first two seasons, KU has gone 2-22. It’s a difficult to convince people the program is on a successful path without the tangible evidence of victories. Asked during his press conference how he and his staff judge success and what benchmarks they try to hit season to season, Beaty laid out his philosophy on slowly building toward an on-field product in which the fan base can take some pride.

“Before we look at the benchmarks we’ve got to look at how we’re going to get there,” Beaty began. “And the benchmarks are not going to be any different, really, for us than they are for other programs.”

As far as Beaty is concerned, Kansas should have some big-picture goals that aren’t necessarily immediately attainable.

“We want to win championships. We want to play in bowl games,” the third-year KU coach said. “We want to produce productive men, who are good for our society — and that is what is going to cause the byproduct of winning championships.”

That’s the most challenging part of Beaty’s massive reclamation project. He and his staff have to notice and take pride in the small gains made behind the scenes, with the idea that those will one day pay off in the form of wins in front of fans at Memorial Stadium. And they have to help the players value those baby steps.

“We say it at all the time. We talk to our kids daily about every day we need you to wake up and be the best man you can possibly be, from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed,” Beaty said. “And the byproduct of that day will be something you, we, our program can all be proud of — and it will be called production.”

The message Beaty hammered throughout his Q&A was no different from what he has said since taking over. He hit some of his favorite talking points, including the phrase: It’s a process; not an event. The always-positive coach said players and staff have to get wrapped up in that concept.

“Our championship hopes and dreams are going to hinge on us continuing to understand that it will be a byproduct of the work and what it means to be a good man every day, because that really encompasses what it means to be committed to a program and doing the things necessary to win championships,” Beaty said. “People want to talk about championships. Not a lot of people want to do what it takes to get one.”

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David Beaty firmly on the cold seat as head football coach at Kansas

Kansas head coach David Beaty smiles as he walks across the field during the 2017 Spring Game on Saturday, April 15 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach David Beaty smiles as he walks across the field during the 2017 Spring Game on Saturday, April 15 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

As evidenced by the two-year contract extension and raise he received this past December, the University of Kansas is pleased to have David Beaty as its head football coach.

Sure, the Jayhawks have yet to escape the Big 12’s cellar in Beaty’s first two seasons leading the program. But the progress being made — both in recruiting and in terms of the on-field product — under Beaty’s watch have been a welcome sign for athletics director Sheahon Zenger, who knows better than anyone how boosters view the culture change being spearheaded by Beaty and his staff.

That’s why those long-suffering followers of the program won’t be as surprised as outsiders at Beaty’s standing, as presented in Dennis Dodd’s College Football Hot Seat Rankings at CBSSports.com.

An uninformed observer might see the 2-22 record next to Beaty’s name and assume another losing season could put his job in peril. But what kind of athletic department would be able to announce a $300 million stadium and facilities renovation project with a lame duck or loathed head coach in place?

No, Beaty isn’t leaving Kansas anytime soon. Take a look at Dodd’s hot seat rating scale, with 0 defined as “untouchable” and 5 falling in the category of “win or be fired.” KU’s third-year coach sits firmly on a cold seat.

While Beaty didn’t crack the upper stratosphere of un-fireable coaches, populated by the Nick Sabans and Dabo Swinneys of the college football world, KU’s coach came close, earning a 1 on the hot-seat scale — or “safe and secure” — at the same level as 65 other FBS coaches.

Within the Big 12, Beaty’s job is as certain as those of first-year coaches Tom Herman (Texas) and Matt Rhule (Baylor), Iowa State’s Matt Campbell and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy. He’ll have to accrue many more victories at KU before reaching the “untouchable” level of Kansas State’s Bill Snyder and TCU’s Gary Patterson. But because Beaty is in the early stages of a serious rebuilding project at a low profile program, his job is safer than those of new Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley and Dana Holgorsen at West Virginia, both of whom landed in the realm of “all good … for now” with a 2 rating. Meanwhile, Beaty’s old buddy Kliff Kingsbury finds himself in the unenviable spot of “start improving now,” with a hot-seat rating of 4.

Ultimately, no coach is completely un-fireable — even recent national champions Swinney and Saban. But assuming everyone is abiding by the laws of the land and the NCAA, most of the nation’s coaches have to feel secure in their jobs entering this season.

A three- or four-win campaign at KU this fall actually qualifies as further progress, so Beaty is in a pretty good spot for at least another year. Expectations likely will rise for KU in 2018. Still, Beaty and his staff appear equipped to keep steering the program toward better days as long as their supporters have realistic expectations for the steady restoration of the program.

Check out the complete hot seat rankings: Evaluating job security of all 130 college football coaches

Reply 10 comments from Freddie Garza Michael Maris Bryce Landon Brett McCabe John Brazelton Chris DeWeese Phil Leister Steve Jacob

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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Recruiting upgrade: KU commit Devonta Jason now considered a 5-star WR

Kansas University football recruiting

Kansas University football recruiting

David Beaty’s already hyped 2018 recruiting class for Kansas football now has a five-star prospect in its midst.

The Jayhawks haven’t snagged another commitment from a coveted rising high school senior. The boost, instead, comes courtesy of one of the young men who ignited the so-called “Louisianimal” frenzy in the first place. A four-star wide receiver when he first announced in February his intentions to sign with KU, New Orleans’ Devonta Jason has since impressed enough within the recruiting world for Rivals to bump him up to five-star status.

The latest Rivals 100 rankings for 2018, unveiled Tuesday, list Jason, a 6-foot-3 wideout from Landry-Walker High, as the No. 22 senior in the country, with an extra star next to his name. Jon Kirby of Jayhawk Slant said this makes Jason the first five-star prospect ever to commit to KU.

When Jason visited Kansas nearly four months ago and — along with prep teammate Corione Harris, a four-star cornerback — committed to Beaty, Louisiana native Tony Hull and the Jayhawks, Rivals rated the talented receiver as the 35th-best player in the country.

So what has changed since then, considering Jason’s senior year at Landry-Walker is still months away?

“The Kansas commit spent the spring making highlight reel catches at camps and 7-on-7 tournaments across the country, proving that he belongs in the five-star class,” Rivals’ Woody Wommack explained. “Jason has everything from measurables to on-field and camp production on his résumé, and his size and catch radius makes him one of the nation's best. Kansas has never signed a five-star prospect in the Rivals.com era, but now has a chance to do so.”

Only three Class of 2018 receivers in the country are currently ranked ahead of Jason in the Rivals 100.

“His ability at his size to go up and get the ball and really outplay defenders has been really impressive,” Wommack detailed in a Rivals video highlight package of Jason. “You know, he’s not the quickest wide receiver in the world, and that’s what some people are concerned about, but we feel like he can get enough separation, especially when he needs to be. And he’s a guy that may not light it up on the clock, but when the lights come on in a game situation, he’s super-productive. We’ve seen it on film, we’ve seen it in person and now we’ve seen it at several elite camps.”

Jason and many of the country’s other top high school seniors will soon converge to compete and prove themselves at the Rivals 100 Five-Star Challenge, June 9 and 10, in Indianapolis.

KU’s 2018 recruiting class, highlighted by Jason and Harris, currently ranks 21st nationally, according to Rivals.

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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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No cap and gown for KU’s Fish Smithson this weekend — Washington rookie camp calls

Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon (25) is tackled by Kansas safety Fish Smithson (9) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Oct.29, 2016.

Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon (25) is tackled by Kansas safety Fish Smithson (9) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Oct.29, 2016. by Alonzo Adams/The Associated Press

Over the past several months, as he trained for a future he hopes will include numerous seasons in the NFL, Fish Smithson looked forward to May 14. Like thousands of his University of Kansas classmates, Smithson couldn’t wait to finally walk down the hill at KU’s commencement ceremony and celebrate graduating on the same Memorial Stadium turf where he played the past three seasons.

KU’s former safety, though, is foregoing one dream this weekend to chase another. While his fellow graduates back in Lawrence commemorate their accomplishments as students on Sunday, Smithson will be in Virginia, at the Washington Redskins’ training facility, grinding away, attempting to attain his longterm goal.

He packed up his gear and left Kansas on Thursday to fly out to Washington D.C. Smithson, who called missing KU’s commencement “tough,” at least finds himself in the midst of a great alternative: participating in the Redskins’ three-day rookie mini-camp, which begins Friday.

The 5-foot-10, 201-pound defensive back, who signed with Washington as an un-drafted free agent, is headed back near his hometown of Baltimore, but admitted he didn’t care much for the Redskins growing up.

“Not at all,” Smithson said, laughing about how things turned out.

His father, Tony, always turned Baltimore games on in the Smithson residence, because he loved watching the Ravens’ star linebacker, Ray Lewis.

“When the games came on, he kicked us all out the living room and we couldn’t talk. We couldn’t do anything while the Ravens game was on,” Smithson said, explaining how he and his siblings, too, always preferred Baltimore’s NFL team to D.C.’s.

He would’ve been thrilled to try and make the roster with any organization, but Smithson admitted he’s excited about getting a chance to play close to home. Coincidentally, a few weeks before the draft, Fish’s sister, Tamicka, moved to D.C., and she lives basically across the street from FedExField.

“It’s crazy how that all worked out,” Smithson said. “She’s already talking about converting.”

Of course, for an un-drafted prospect such as Smithson, this weekend’s rookie camp is just the first stretch of what will be a formidable road to Washington’s 53-man, regular-season roster. The team currently lists seven other safeties on its active roster — not including un-signed late-round draft picks Montae Nicholson, from Michigan State, and Josh Harvey-Clemons, who played safety at Louisville but is listed as a linebacker. Smithson, whom the organization likes at free safety, plays the same position as veterans DJ Swearinger, DeAngelo Hall, Will Blackmon and Deshazor Everett.

Like many incoming rookies, Smithson doesn’t have to look far or hard to find inspirational fuel for this stage of his football career. Actually, one source can be found within his Twitter handle. Smithson didn’t have an account until April, but when he set it up he wanted it to remind him of his upbringing. As he explained it, @fannishthem both combines his name, Fish, with that of his grandmother, Ann, and incorporates a personalized acronym: family always need new income so help.

None by Fish Smithson

“Just my motivation that my grandmother is there with me,” Smithson said. “She gave me the name and my family always needs help, so help them.”

The three-year Kansas safety just might get that chance with the support of his NFL earnings one day. Chris Burke at SI.com recently identified Smithson as a sleeper for Washington.

“He brings the prerequisite versatility needed at safety,” Burke wrote for SI, “especially in coverage — he can play high or match up man-on-man in the slot. He may be a practice-squad guy as a rookie, or latch on elsewhere, but there’s NFL-caliber ability in his game.”

Although Smithson wishes he could don a cap and gown on Sunday in Lawrence, he’ll be right at home in a helmet and pads at Washington’s rookie camp.

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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.

None by Josh Walker

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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