12:31 p.m. Update
It looks like everything worked out with Blinn College offensive lineman Jayson Rhodes' transcripts because KU is now announcing him as a member of today's mid-year transfer haul.
Rhodes, who got in with KU late after offensive lineman Delonte' Murray changed his mind and signed with Cincinnati, is a 6-foot-4, 310-pound guard who had offers from Grambling State, Hampton, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Southern Miss and UT-San Antonio.
He'll arrive at KU in time for spring football and will have three years of eligibility remaining, which makes him a guy the KU coaching staff can bring along slowly if need be. That's not to say he'll need it, just that they'll have that flexibility.
The addition of Rhodes brings KU's total haul for the day to seven — 3 offensive linemen, 2 defensive backs, 1 defensive lineman and 1 running back.
Here's a quick look at Rhodes' film and bio.
RHODES BIO: Played one season at Blinn College under head coach Keith Thomas... Helped lead the Buccaneers to a 4-4 mark in 2014... Earned second team all-conference honors in 2014... Started the season on the defensive side of the ball, before moving to the offensive line... Sat out the 2013 season as a redshirt.
Original Post: 9:49 a.m.
It's not quite the spectacle that national signing day in February brings, but it's important nonetheless. And it's already well under way for the Kansas University football program.
Mid-year transfer signing day offers those junior-college players who were able to graduate in December the chance to sign their national letters of intent early so they can report to their new schools in time for the spring semester, which begins in late January, and, more importantly, the start of spring practices.
Here's a quick list of the new Jayhawks who made it official this morning, starting with Kilgore College cornerback M.J. Mathis, who signed his letter at 8 a.m. in his hometown of Crosby, Texas, with a few close friends and family members present.
Mathis, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound corner with a good mix of physical presence and legit speed, said signing his letter was an amazing feeling because it put an official end to a couple of stressful months that came with waiting for KU to change coaches and signing day to arrive.
Here's a quick look at some Mathis highlights:
Other new Jayhawks who signed this morning include:
• Will Smith, a 6-foot-4, 315-pound, three-star offensive lineman from Butler Community College, who committed to KU in early June after an official visit.
SMITH BIO: Played two seasons on the offensive line for the nationally-ranked Grizzlies... Coached by Troy Morrell at BCC... Earned a three-star rating from Rivals.com and 247Sports.com... Saw action in 11 games for the Grizzlies, helping them earn an 8-3 overall record in 2014... Picked up all-conference and all-region honors in 2014... Helped lead the Grizzlies to the 2013 conference and region titles.
• Jacky Dezir, a 6-3, 305-pound, two-star defensive lineman from College of DuPage, who also committed to KU in early June after an official visit.
DEZIR BIO: Spent two seasons at the College of DuPage playing for head coach Matt Foster... Sat out the 2014 season as a redshirt... Played in 10 games for the Chaparrals, helping them earn a 7-4 record in 2013… Recorded two sacks in the 2013 Carrier Dome Bowl against ASA College… Recorded 24 total tackles during the 2013 season, including 13 solo tackles... Also credited with 3.0 TFLs.
• Bazie "L.B." Bates IV, a 6-1, 195-pound, three-star defensive back from Trinity Valley C.C., who committed to KU in late June. Name is pronounced Baz-ee.
BATES BIO: Spent two seasons at Trinity Valley Community College suiting up for head coach Brad Smiley… A three-star prospect according to Rivals.com, 247Sports.com and Scout.com... Played as a cornerback on the 2014 team that was a perfect 12-0 in 2014… Helped lead the Cardinals to the SWJCFC championship, the Region XIV championship and the Heart of Texas Bowl title in 2014... Recorded 26 total tackles, including 16 solo stops, as a sophomore in 2014... Led TVCC with four interceptions... Also had four pass breakups... Spent the 2013 season as a redshirt... Collected 11 tackles and one pass breakup for TVCC as a freshman in 2012.
• D'Andre Banks, a 6-3, 325-pound, three-star offensive lineman also from Trinity Valley, C.C., who committed to Kansas after an official visit last weekend. Banks had been committed to Louisiana-Lafayette, but switched to Kansas after his visit.
BANKS BIO: Played two seasons at Trinity Valley Community College for head coach Brad Smiley… A three-star prospect according to Rivals.com... Saw action as an offensive guard on the 2014 team that went undefeated (12-0) in 2014… Helped lead the Cardinals to the SWJCFC championship, the Region XIV championship and the Heart of Texas Bowl title in both 2013 and 2014...Spent the 2012 season as a redshirt.
"Coach (David) Beaty is a great guy and has a plan for the program,” Banks said shortly after committing. “I want to be a part of it. The facilities are excellent and it feels like a tight-knit community."
• Ke'aun Kinner, a 5-10, 185-pound, three-star running back from Navarro Junior College, who committed to KU earlier this week and was named a first-team Juco All-American on Tuesday.
KINNER BIO: Suited up for two seasons at Navarro Junior College under head coach J.J. Eckert... Earned a three-star ranking from Rivals.com, 247Sports.com and Scout.com... Finished his two-year career at NJC ranked third all-time in rushing yardage (1,918 yards) and ninth all-time in carries (277)… Ranked second in single-season carries and topped the single-season per game rushing average list in NJC history… Rushed for 1,696 yards and 22 touchdowns on 253 carries in 2014… Also caught 17 passes for 109 yards through the air... Earned First Team National Junior College Athletic Assocation (NJCAA) All-American honors in 2014... In his two-year career at Navarro he recorded 26 rushing touchdowns… Named the Southwest Junior College Football Conference's Most Valuable Player in 2014.
Former Kansas University cornerback Aqib Talib continues to prove he's one of the top cover corners in the NFL during his first season with the Denver Broncos.
Talib, who has battled injuries throughout this season and his career, has started 13 games for the Broncos this season — opposite his former KU running mate Chris Harris — and is tied for the team lead with three interceptions after snagging a key pick against Phillip Rivers and the Chargers last weekend in a victory which clinched the Broncos' fourth AFC West title in a row.
Talib was at his best against San Diego and was constantly highlighted for his impeccable technique and great instincts. He has 55 tackles this season — 48 of the solo variety — and already has as many passes defended this season (14) as he did all of last season with the Patriots.
Talib's lockdown ability has been one of the biggest reasons the Broncos' defense has improved by leaps and bounds over last year's group, and, as long as he's healthy, Talib continues to show why he's regarded as one of the league's best cornerbacks and, even more to the point, why he makes so much money.
Harris cashes in
Former KU cornerback Chris Harris, now in his fourth year with the Denver Broncos, agreed to a five-year contract extension worth more than $42 million.
Harris, regarded by many as one of the top all-around cornerbacks in the league, is enjoying his best season as a pro on the heels of offseason ACL surgery.
He joined Denver as an undrafted free agent in 2011 for a $2,000 signing bonus. Harris already has tied his career high with three interceptions this season and has 48 tackles, 46 of them of the solo variety.
McDougald's monster day
Former Kansas wide-receiver-turned-safety Bradley McDougald played the best game of his young NFL career on Sunday, finishing with 15 tackles — 11 solo — in Tampa Bay's 19-17 loss to Carolina.
McDougald, another undrafted free agent who is in his second year with the Bucaneers, has started three of the 13 games he has played in this year and has 37 tackles and three passes defended.
Johnson fitting in fine
Injuries have depleted the Denver Broncos' linebacking corps and that has opened the door for former Jayhawk Steven Johnson — yet another undrafted free agent — to slide into the starting lineup.
Johnson, now in his third season in the NFL, has played in 12 games for the Broncos this season and started the past five.
He finished Sunday's victory over San Diego tied for third on the team with four tackles — all solo — and now has 27 tackles on the season to go along with a half sack and a fumble recovery.
Former KU safety Darrell Stuckey was pretty quiet during the Chargers' loss to Denver last Sunday, but one week earlier, the Kansas City, Kansas, native scored the first touchdown of his NFL career on a fumble recovery and return during the Chargers' loss to New England.
Still known for his contributions on special teams, Stuckey has appeared in 14 games this season (his fifth in the NFL) and has 27 tackles and two passes defended to go along with the TD.
Opurum picked up
After spending the past couple of seasons as a part of the Houston Texans' practice squad (he was even active for a game or two) former KU running back/defensive end Toben Opurum has been picked up by the New Orleans Saints and signed to their practice squad.
Newly named Kansas University football coach David Beaty made up for lost time in the recruiting grind last weekend by not only getting 11 members of the Class of 2015 to visit campus and but also by picking up seven oral commitments since Saturday night.
The first future Jayhawk to commit came Saturday evening, four more prospects joined him on Sunday and the latest to pledge their services to Kansas delivered the good news bright and early Monday morning and again early Monday afternoon.
The news of these commitments spread like wildfire on KU message boards and Twitter and added even more shine to Beaty's reputation as a solid recruiter.
But it's not necessarily the players who Beaty picked up that made his weekend haul impressive. It was the fact that he was able to pull it all together so quickly in the first place and without much of his coaching staff on board that caught my eye.
Beaty had prior relationships with a couple of the guys who committed, but he had had no contact whatsoever with a couple of the others. The fact that those guys were not only willing to visit Kansas, but, in some cases, also visited despite already having committed elsewhere speaks to the strength of Beaty's relationships in Texas.
At least a couple of these prospects said the bond between Beaty and their high school coach carried enough weight for them to give KU a look. After that, the ball was in Beaty's court, and, Beaty, like so many coaches who came before him in his current job, has said he believed KU's chances of landing a guy increase dramatically if he can just get guys to visit campus.
That proved to be true with half a dozen guys in the past few days, and, although they might not all pan out, they seem to be the kinds of players KU needs to sign to get the rebuilding project off the ground.
Most of them are good athletes with impressive resumes, and many of them were overlooked by the “big schools” because those places fill their commitment lists with four- and five-star guys each year, not the two- and three-star guys who came to campus last weekend.
If nothing else, that idea should offer a little perspective for the furious weekend of recruiting that was. These guys all appear to be worthy prospects. And a couple of them have some impressive size, skills and stats. But they're far from a guarantee and they still need to be coached and developed and put through the grind of college football before we really have any idea what kind of players they can be — especially in the Big 12 Conference.
Beaty knows that. And he's willing to put the time in to make it happen. He's also planning to hire a coaching staff that thinks the same way.
Recruiting is a contagious business. Year after year, with program after program, fans often get caught up in the hype and promise of what a prospect looks like on paper or what his high school statistics might lead them to dream he could become in college. It's understandable. But at a place like KU, it's important to remember both sides of the coin. Given the fact that so many recent recruits have failed to pan out, that should not be too hard to remember for Jayhawk football fans.
That's not to diminish what Beaty and company accomplished this weekend, though. What they did was impressive. And it's important mostly because it shows — with actions rather than words — what Beaty is all about when it comes to recruiting. Substance over style.
See, two years ago at this time, the Kansas football program was in the middle of building what was dubbed the #DreamTeam2013. It was made up mostly of highly ranked junior-college prospects and featured some incredibly outgoing personalities, many of whom now appear to have something to fall back on in terms of a marketing and promotions career since the whole big-time football thing did not work out.
To be fair, a few of the guys in that “Dream Team” class did make a significant impact on the KU program. Dexter McDonald and Cassius Sendish were two-year starters in the secondary, Ngalu Fusimalohi and Mike Smithburg started both of their seasons on the O-Line and Trevor Pardula single-handedly fixed KU's punting woes.
But those were not the guys who were talking the most during the recruiting period. Guys like Marquel Combs, Marcus Jenkins-Moore, Chris Martin and others were the names that wowed people — as much for their excitement and enthusiasm as their rankings — but those guys never played a down for the Jayhawks. And their failure to pan out and eventual departures from the program left a hole in KU's roster that Beaty is now trying to fill.
He'll have to be creative to do it, and he'll have to work twice as hard as he would at an established program. But, again, he appears to be ready and willing to do just that and what he got done last weekend was definitely a good start.
MORE FROM THE RECRUITING TRAIL...
Say what you will about the sluggish second half, the Kansas University men's basketball team on Saturday at Sprint Center again found a way to win a grinder, 63-60 over No. 13 Utah.
The game featured one of KU's best halves of the season and also one of its worst, as the Jayhawks (8-1) raced out to a 42-21 lead behind a strong first half and then saw that lead erased when a less-than-stellar second half.
Hot free throw shooting, more solid three-point shooting and that hard-to-describe quality that allows this team to scratch out a victory in the waning minutes all benefited the Jayhawks on Saturday in a game that featured a couple of teams that played incredibly hard but at different times.
KU was lights out in the first half. After struggling to get the offense going, the Jayhawks started making shots and never let their defense slip, suffocating the Utes into 35 percent first-half shooting and 10 turnovers.
The two teams flipped roles in the second half, when KU shot just 26 percent and committed seven turnovers, which allowed the Utes to climb all the way back into it and set up the dramatic finish.
Heading into the opening game of the Orlando Classic, the Jayhawks knew that they were in for a rough stretch of games. Rather than giving in to the difficulty of the schedule or leaning on their youth and inexperience as an excuse, the Jayhawks pulled together, played tough and won six straight games in the face of just about every kind of adversity you could imagine. This team is still a work in progress and there remains a lot of room for improvement, but what they've been able to do during the past few weeks makes you believe that these guys are ready to defend their 10 consecutive Big 12 titles and go hunting for No. 11.
1 – For the second game in a row, freshman Kelly Oubre looked comfortable and made some consistent positive contributions. Oubre scored nine points in 17 minutes and hit all five of his free throw attempts while also grabbing three rebounds. It's not the numbers that are worth noting, rather the way he looks a look more sure of himself and confident in what he's doing.
2 – One of these days, KU's free throw shooting will just be a given and won't qualify as a reason to smile. Today is not that day. The Jayhawks drained 21 of 23 free throws, including all 10 they attempted in the first half and needed just about every one of them to hold off the Utes. Brannen Greene, who stepped into the starting lineup for Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk but didn't do much most of the game, knocked down four in a row in the final minute to help seal the victory. As a team, KU hit all eight of its free throw attempts in the final five minutes.
3 – Jamari Traylor came back with a purpose. Having a good game is no reason to excuse an arrest, but it was clear from the way he played that Traylor was trying to make up for his mistake. He still had a couple of inexplicable mistakes — a terrible pass here, a turnover there — but he hit 4 of 8 shots, all 5 of his free throws and finished with 13 points and 5 boards. The most impressive thing about Traylor's play to me was that he looked relaxed.
1 – KU's second-half offense was awful. Not only did the Jayhawks shoot just 26 percent and make just six field goals, but there were way too many one-on-five possessions, when the ball didn't move and the Jayhawks just threw up some wild shot or turned it over. With several guys on the roster feeling comfortable and looking locked in from three-point range of late, better ball movement and less pounding could lead to open three-pointers and better possessions. In short, pretty much what you saw in the first half.
2 – Landen Lucas' time in the starting lineup is probably pretty close to ending. Lucas missed his only two shot attempts — showing once again that he lacks the strength and explosion to finish at the rim — and the only other statistic he recorded was his two turnovers. No rebounds. No assists. No blocks. No free throws. Lucas has done an admirable job during the first nine games, but he's clearly not the guy the Jayhawks need out there and it seems the coaching staff gets that, as evident by his seven minutes against Utah.
3 – Remember that shoulder issue that once plagued freshman Devonte' Graham? It never really materialized into something to worry about, but the point guard's latest injury is. Graham is expected to miss four weeks — perhaps longer — with a toe injury and the news comes at the worst time. Graham played very good basketball in his past two games and really looked to be getting comfortable out there, both with his role on the team and with the jump to college basketball as a whole. His absence will be a blow to this team.
KU's latest win in Kansas City...
• Extended its win streak to seven-straight games, matching its longest win streak of last season.
• Was the fourth-straight win for KU by six points or fewer.
• Made the Jayhawks 8-1 for the second time in the last three seasons and the sixth time in Bill Self's 12 seasons at Kansas.
• Improved Kansas’ lead in the all-time series to 2-0.
• Improved KU's record to 5-1 in games away from Allen Fieldhouse this season.
• Upped the Jayhawks’ all-time record at Sprint Center to 25-5 and 210-79 in games played in Kansas City.
• Gave Bill Self his first victory against Utah, making him 1-1 vs. the Utes, 333-70 at Kansas and 540-175 overall.
• Made KU's all-time record 2,134-823.
The Jayhawks will get a break from their rough and rugged schedule, as they'll be off all week until next Saturday's 2 p.m. home game against Lafayette.
Newly hired Kansas University football coach David Beaty has not spent his first week on the job rearranging the office furniture or hanging up his favorite photos by his desk. There will be time for that later.
The past week has been spent tracking talent, visiting coaches and lining up an impressive list of visitors for this weekend, the final big recruiting weekend before the next dead period. With 12 players in the Class of 2015 already committed, KU has room for about 12 more. Many of the visitors who will be in town this weekend are high school prospects, which is in line with what Beaty said would be the foundation upon which the KU program was built during his time in town.
Two of this weekend's visitors — WR Kevin Thomas and QB Ryan Willis — already have committed to Kansas, so, even if KU were to land all of the guys it brings in this weekend, it would leave the new coaching staff room to add at least a couple more players.
This weekend's visit list is heavy on offensive linemen and wide receivers — two areas of great need for the Jayhawks — but it's not just the names of the players or their place in the rankings that is impressive about this group. The more impressive part is that Beaty was able, in such short time, to get so many guys to committ to campus visits so quickly. The state of Kansas is also well represented, with three of the 11 guys coming from Kansas high schools, an area Beaty said would be a top priority moving forward.
Jon Kirby of JayhawkSlant.com reported earlier this week that several Texas high school coaches had reached out to Beaty about some of their players who may have been a little overlooked thus far in the recruiting process, and it's that kind of pedigree that had many on the search committee excited about the idea of hiring Beaty in the first place. The fact that it has started to pay off in his first week on the job is merely a bonus.
Of course, just getting them here is only half of the battle. Beaty and company still have to get these guys to commit and, even if they do, the players themselves still have to show up and pan out. There's time for that, though.
Here's a quick look at the guys coming in for a visit this weekend, according to Rivals.com's visit tracker:
• Kyle Ball, 6-2, 231 D-End, Shawnee Mission East
The two-start prospect picked up an offer from KU during Clint Bowen's interim term and helped lead the Lancers to a state title in the process. Big, physical and athletic all over the field, Ball has offers from Air Force and South Dakota State and also recently made an unofficial visit to Kansas State.
• D'Andre Banks — 6-3, 325, OL, Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College
Three-star offensive guard currently has offers from Louisiana-Lafayette, Utah State and Kansas. Also received early interest from Florida State and Illinois.
• Colton Beebe – 6-2, 252, LB, Piper High
Another local kid, Beebe has been closed in the sub-4.8 range in the 40-yard dash and also bench presses 315 pounds and owns a 4.13 grade-point average. The two-star prospect has offers from Air Force, Minnesota and Kansas. He's been looking forward to visiting KU since receiving an offer in September and said throughout the season that he was impressed by what Clint Bowen had done with the team.
• Xavier Castille – 5-11, 195, WR, Rockwall (Texas) High
Two-star receiver with a good build and excellent speed has all kinds of offers from mid-major type programs including Uconn, Illinois State, Memphis, Nevada, Texas State, Tulsa and UTEP along with KU and Washington. Under-the-radar wideout is known for good hands and crisp routes.
• Arico Evans – 6-2, 190, Athlete, Hillcrest High, Dallas
Two-star prospect has offers from KU, Indiana, New Mexico, New Mexico State, TCU, Texas Tech and Troy. This week's contact was the first Evans had received from Kansas, but he said he was very interested because of his high school coach's close bond with Beaty.
• Brandon Martin – 6-3, 185, WR, Prime Prep Academy, Dallas
Another prospect from the Deion Sanders school, this three-star receiver is ranked as the 98th best wideout in the nation and the 100th best player in Texas. He has received offers from Louisiana Tech, Louisville, Temple, Arkansas State and KU and has been named to the Under-Armour All-American roster.
• Emmanuel Moore – 6-0, 190, WR, Northwest High, Justin, Texas
Two-star receiver committed to North Texas back in September, but is visiting KU this weekend, according to Rivals.com. KU and UNT are his only offers as of now but he also has received interest from Minnesota and SMU.
• Tyler Moore – 6-4, 300, OL, North Shore High, Galena Park, Texas
Three-star center has multiple offers from some big time programs including BYU, Minnesota, Texas, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana Tech and Oregon State. Moore plans to graduate in December and would be free to report to his new school in time for spring practices.
• Jace Sternberger – 6-4, 225, D-End, Kingfisher (Oklahoma) High
Two-star prospect has offers from KU, New Mexico, Sam Houston State and South Dakota and also received interest from Kansas State, Memphis, Oklahoma State and Tulsa. Known as a good all-around athlete. Also plays tight end.
• Kevin Thomas – 6-2, 180, WR, DeSoto (Texas) High
Three-star wide receiver committed to KU in July after receiving a dozen offers from schools including Clemson, Nebraska, Wake Forest and Wisconsin. Big, physical wideout remained committed throughout the coaching change and is regarded by some as one of KU's top targets in the current class.
• Ryan Willis – 6-4, 201, QB, Bishop Miege
Three-star pro-style QB committed to Kansas in May and stayed strong throughout another rough season and a change in leadership. After throwing for 3,000 yards and 30 TDs as a junior, Willis followed that up with another 3,000-yard season and 35 TDs in leading the Stags to a state title this season. He completed 64 percent of his passes. Willis met with Beaty earlier this week and came away impressed by the new coach's energy and passion for KU.
Wednesday night's 75-70 victory over Georgetown in Washington D.C., sure seemed like the most entertaining KU game of the year so far.
It featured two teams that each threw five guys onto the floor at pretty much all times who competed their butts off on every possession, for points, rebounds, loose balls and floor burns.
I'm sure for fans of both teams, there were plenty of moments when you wanted to pull your hair out or pound the table, but if you're just a college basketball fan and you flipped the TV to Fox Sports 1 last night, I'm guessing you were wildly entertained from start to finish.
For the Jayhawks, the game featured a little bit of everything – tough play, solid defense, three-point shooting and easy buckets at the rim. It also included a couple of tough moments in which the Jayhawks (7-1) were forced to withstand a couple of storms from the Hoyas and the home crowd.
I know KU fans expect the Jayhawks to win every time they hit the floor, but it's time to take a moment to appreciate what this team has done during the past couple of weeks. Victories over Rhode Island, Tennessee, Michigan State, Florida and Georgetown would make a pretty good tournament resume come March. The fact that KU won these games consecutively and so early in the season shows you just how talented this group could be by the end of the season.
For me, Wednesday's victory was not just about Brannen Greene going bananas from downtown to lead the Jayhawks to victory. It was about the Jayhawks' ability to respond. It seemed like every time Georgetown threw a punch, the Jayhawks threw one back and regained control of the game. After watching their 13-point first-half lead disappear, KU responded with a strong finish to the half when Frank Mason drove hard to the rim in the waning seconds and hit a tough layup to put Kansas up two at the break. Later, after Georgetown tied the game at 58 with a three-pointer, Mason immediately answered on the other end with a three-pointer to put KU ahead again. And, of course, there was the stretch early in the second half when the Hoyas built a three-point lead and looked to be on the brink of taking control only to see KU respond with a Greene three-pointer, a tough defensive stand and another Greene trey in the next three trips. Those were just a few examples of how KU showed its resolve all night. And that could have been, by far, the most important thing this young team gained from its latest victory.
1 – How about KU's three-point shooting? Led by Greene's 5-of-5 showing, the Jayhawks finished 10 of 17 from downtown, with five different players knocking down at least one shot from behind the arc. Consistent and quality three-point shooting has been missing for Kansas during the past couple of seasons, and, at least lately, this team has shown it has the ability to light it up from the outside in its arsenal.
2 – Overall, I thought KU's defense was pretty good. Frank Mason played one of his best defensive games of the season — all on a bum ankle — and the Jayhawks held Georgetown to 40 percent shooting, 39 percent in the second half. Georgetown's starting back court shot just 4-of-17 from the floor and the Hoyas coughed it up 16 times while Kansas out-rebounded the physically imposing home team by two. KU also swiped nine steals by five different players and many of those led to transition opportunities, which should be a huge part of the winning recipe for a team this deep, athletic and talented.
3 – Perry Ellis did not lead the Jayhawks in scoring, but he sure was fantastic. He finished with a double-double of 13 points and 10 boards in 39 minutes and shot just 4-of-15 from the floor, but was aggressive all night and just missed on so many shots that would've turned that pointed total into 25 in a hurry. What's more impressive is that played all those minutes and grabbed all those boards while fouling just once. Ellis also added three steals and two blocks to his stat line and his minutes, boards and smaller stats more than made up for the missed shots.
1 – Whether it's been a six-point lead, a 10-point lead or the 13-point lead we saw in the first half against Georgetown, the Jayhawks have shown an ability to get complacent at times and watch control of the game slip away. Clearly, KU was able to grind this one out, but there's no way that a 28-15 lead in the first half should have been 34-32 at the break. Turnovers, missed shots and Georgetown waking up all contributed to the slip, but this team still needs to learn how to turn that 13-point advantage into a 20-point lead while going for the knockout blow instead of allowing the opponent to crawl back into it. A lot of that comes from leadership and experience, both of which are works in progress on this roster.
2 – The Jayhawks made just eight field goals in the second half and shot 33 percent for the half and 38 percent for the game. A big reason for that was Ellis' 11 misses and a big reason it didn't kill them was the red-hot three-point shooting and 32 trips to the free throw line. Five of KU's eight second-half field goals were three pointers and the Jayhawks made 20 of 24 free throws in the second half. Even though they survived, though, the poor shooting in the second half is worth noting because it — along with those three-point tries — points to KU still struggling a little to get good shots in its halfcourt offense.
3 – Brannen Greene was celebrated from coast to coast for the way he shot the ball and he definitely should've been, but imagine what the guy could do if he played just a little better defense and didn't foul quite so easily. There's still time for improvement in both of those areas, and, if it comes, Greene's 18 minutes against Georgetown could easily have turned into 25 or more and there's no telling what kind of point total that would've led to the way he was shooting the ball.
KU's hard-fought road win in the nation's capital...
• Extended its win streak to six-straight games.
• Made the Jayhawks 7-1 for the second time in the last three seasons and the seventh time in Bill Self's 12 seasons at Kansas.
• Improved Kansas’ lead in the all-time series with Georgetown to 3-1.
• Kept Self unbeaten against Georgetown (3-0) and made him 332-70 at Kansas and 539-175 overall.
• Improved KU's all-time record 2,133-823.
The Jayhawks return to the area this weekend and will take on No. 13 Utah at 2:15 p.m. at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The Utes (6-1) are off to one of the best starts in school history and figure to be yet another solid challenge in a stretch of tough games for Kansas.
New KU football coach David Beaty on Monday made it clear that he understood the challenges he was stepping into by taking the job to lead the Jayhawks in 2015 and beyond.
Although the list is long and includes everything from production on the field to mending fences off of it, it seems one of the best places to get a clear look at Beaty's biggest challenge is by scanning the potential depth chart heading into the 2015 season.
Gone are 21 seniors, many of whom played key roles — especially on defense — on this year's team and during the past few seasons, as well. In some areas, there are obvious options to replace them. In others, the question of "Who's next?" is a little tougher to answer.
Several weeks ago, Tom Keegan looked at KU's Top 10 returning players but did so from a 1-through-10 perspective. All of those guys will be on the list you're about to read, as well, but instead of a Top 10, I'll give you a Top 22, as in an incredibly early look at a starting 11 on both sides of the ball for the 2015 season.
There's no doubt this will change between now and September. Heck, it'll probably change between now and February and again by the start of spring practice sometime in March. But it never hurts to look ahead and, in doing so, I think you'll see that Beaty is inheriting a team with some significant returning talent but an alarming lack of depth.
Most of this is based on the guys who have experience, which, for now, is as important a factor as anything. We'll get into the guys who could knock them off — think defensive lineman D.J. Williams, incoming cornerback Michael Mathis and a couple of other guys like that — in future blogs.
Also for the sake of this blog, we'll assume the Jayhawks are going to go with the same base defense they used this year.
Here we go...
QB – Michael Cummings – Freshman-to-be Ryan Willis will be an intriguing option here, but Cummings earned the right to be the man to beat with his play this season.
RB – Corey Avery – De'Andre Mann is also back and both should be better than they were this season.
LT – Larry Mazyck – With another offseason to work on his skills and his body, the big man could be a nice option here.
LG – Joe Gibson – Filled in well at Center this season, but should be able to transition to guard with no problem.
C – Jacob Bragg – He doesn't have any experience, but guys kept mentioning his name.
RG – Junior Visinia – Picked up some incredibly valuable experience down the stretch and should only get better.
RT – Jordan Shelley-Smith – I really think this guy is going to be solid for a couple of years.
TE – Ben Johnson – Filled in nicely for Mundine from time to time and brings similar athleticism and good hands.
WR – Nigel King – The unquestioned No. 1 option on this team. His chemistry with Cummings should be a big advantage.
WR – Tre' Parmalee – It's possible one of the young guys beats Parmalee out, but he's a solid route runner and a reliable option who's been out there plenty.
WR – Kent Taylor – I always heard the transfer from Florida was best out wide and I don't think it's a stretch for him to transition to WR with Johnson holding down the TE spot.
BUCK – Ben Goodman – The move to the interior was not one that should stick. Time to put him back at his natural position.
NT – Andrew Bolton – After a slow start, he had some very good moments during the second half of the season.
DT – T.J. Semke – This is a prime spot where you could see an upgrade, but I guarantee you Semke's not going to give up the job easily.
SE – Kapil Fletcher - Damani Mosby and Anthony Olobia also could factor in here, but Fletcher was the only one of the trio who actually played in 2014.
WLB – Courtney Arnick – He quietly had a solid season and fits the mold of the modern-day Big 12 linebacker.
MLB – Jake Love – Filled in for Heeney whenever he needed to and, at times, was just as effective. Don't forget about Kyron Watson or Joe Dineen in these spots.
CB – Matthew Boateng – Thrown to the wolves as a true freshman, Boateng showed some good things early and should be ready for a bigger role.
CB – Michael Mathis – Ronnie Davis, Colin Spencer and a couple other guys could be options here, as well, but I've heard nothing but good things about Mathis and his spring semester arrival should make him ready to go by September.
FS – Isaiah Johnson – Back for a third season, he will be counted on to be more like the 2013 Johnson than the 2014 Johnson.
SS – Fish Smithson – Solid, physical player should step right in for Cassius Sendish.
NB – Tevin Shaw – Shared time here with Greg Allen (a possible candidate to move to cornerback) and showed good toughness and improved coverage skills.
It can be tough to condense 45 minutes of emotion, one-liners, laughs and handshakes into a few words, but newly named KU football coach David Beaty made it easy.
Before we go on, let me remind you that there is no way of knowing how Beaty's time at Kansas will turn out. Will he be the guy who turns the program around? Perhaps. Does he have the skills to make the leap from college assist to head coach? We'll soon find out. Can he attract the right people — both coaches and players — to bring change to a program in desperate need of a new direction? We will not know the answer to that until we see what happens on Saturdays next fall.
But what we do know — and this we learned in a mere four days since hearing that Beaty would be KU's next coach — is that the new KU coach is an honest man who prefers hard work above all else and would rather show you and prove to you that things are different than stand up in front of you and talk about it.
That much was obvious from his introductory news conference Monday morning, as Beaty talked about all of the things that led him to this point — both in football and in life — and emphasized all of the places he wants this program to go in the future.
He made no promises about results or wins or statistics or milestones. Instead, he focused only on the things he could control — work ethic, operating the right way, recruiting quality athletes, bringing in hungry coaches.
It was enough to impress just about anyone at any school, but, so often, that's what these press conferences are about. We've seen it plenty of times before around here, but rarely with the sincerity behind what Beaty showed on Monday.
What you saw on Monday morning was the real David Beaty, warts and all. He said Texas a couple of times when he meant to say Kansas. (And later cringed over it when his wife, Raynee, pointed it out). He offered his “condolences” to the search committee for having selected him — something that could have been taken as an intentional, dead-panned joke or an accidental slip — and he repeated words a few times throughout his news conference. In short, he delivered a genuine look at who he is and how he operates. And, at least from where I sat, I found the mishaps and hiccups refreshing.
You've heard the phrase “winning the press conference” uttered time and time again. And, although there is some skill involved in doing that, it really isn't that tough to do. Prepare a well-thought-out speech. Deliver it with confidence. Appeal to all of the aspects of your new school that get the fans fired up. Repeat as needed.
Winning what comes after the press conference — quarters, halves, games and championships — is what Beaty seems more interested in, and yet he made no promises in that area either.
Instead, he said he would do everything in his power to send next year's senior class out with a special season. He did not say anything about a bowl victory. He did not talk about winning the Big 12. He only said he would commit all he had to that group of seniors and inspire the rest of the team to follow his lead. Whatever that brings, it brings.
That's the best part about KU's new head football coach. He does not appear to be a guy who is interested in trying to be somebody or something he's not. After the press conference, I asked Beaty to recall the toughest question thrown his way during the interview process. His answer only emphasized the kind of guy we're dealing with and the kind of person he seems to be.
“One of the toughest questions for me, because I don't look at it this way and this is where I have a hard time; my vision is so focused on the positive that I just don't look at negatives. I won't allow myself. The hardest question was, 'What do you see as the challenges?' And, the thing is, every day, for some people, is a challenge. And then for others, and this is gonna sound cliché, but, for others, every day is an opportunity. And that's how it is for me. I do a front hand-spring out of bed every day.”
“Some of those things sound crazy,” he continued. “But they roll off my tongue because that's who we are.”
Whether Beaty wins or winds up being the right guy for Kansas is up for debate and will not be determined for some time. But he's got the right mindset to get the job done. And, for the first time in half a dozen years, it matches the mindset that led KU to the 2008 Orange Bowl.
With that established, it's now time to see what he can do.
KU fans joked across Twitter that newly named football coach David Beaty deserved at least some of the credit for inspiring the Jayhawks' comeback victory over Florida at Allen Fieldhouse on Friday night, and why not?
Until Beaty took the floor at halftime to say hello to the KU fan base, the Jayhawks (6-1) looked pretty awful in falling flat and behind by 15 to the Gators as the teams entered the locker room at halftime.
Of course, there's no doubting that Bill Self and what he said to the KU players during the break had more than a little to do with the Jayhawks' roaring comeback, but most of Friday belonged to Beaty and if KU fans are half as kind to the new coach when football season rolls around, the program might actually be headed somewhere positive.
Until then, there's a whole lot of basketball left to be played and if the Jayhawks more often look like the team they were in the second half and less like the team that sputtered up and down the floor in the first, there figure to be some great days ahead in the immediate future.
Coming off of a pretty solid showing in the Orlando Classic, I wondered how the Jayhawks would respond against a tough Florida team and an even tougher coach in Billy Donovan. Initially, things looked good and the Jayhawks stormed out of the gates and to an early lead. But Florida kept fight, kept its composure and then put a heck of a scare into Kansas. It might not have been much fun for KU fans while it was going down, but that might go down as one of the best things to happen to this team. They played well in Orlando and looked good doing it. That wasn't the case for the full 40 minutes on Friday, but these guys now know they can fight back and pull themselves out of trouble. Being down by 18 at home early in the second half probably qualifies as a little more than “trouble,” and you can bet that Self and the veterans on this club will make sure every player on the roster remembers exactly how that felt so they won't find such
1 – Wayne Selden got back on track in a big way and did it with what Self called “real points.” Selden looked to be in as much of a zone as I remember seeing him in since he lit up Oklahoma in Norman last season and he scored from inside and outside with the look of a guy who knew success was coming. It was only a matter of time for Selden to get going again and now that he has, maybe he'll be able to play with an ever clearer head the rest of the season. One thing to note about Selden's big scoring night, though: He finished with zero rebounds, one assists, one block and zero steals. At least when he wasn't shooting it well, he was still contributing in other areas. And I thought it was interesting that his game against the Gators was almost all about scoring. Something to keep an eye on.
2 – What can you say about the fight the Jayhawks showed in the second half? They were intense, hungry, passionate and, well, just better. The players fed off of each other's energy and seemed to really ramp it up after each made bucket or each forced turnover. The fans were fantastic in doing their part to help the cause and the whole thing was pretty impressive to watch.
3 – KU's free throw shooting was fantastic. And the way Florida closed the game, the Jayhawks needed every one of them. Four guys missed just one or no free throws, led by Cliff Alexander's 8-of-8 showing and Devonte' Graham's 9-of-10 clip. Not bad for a couple of freshmen in clutch moments.
1 – On a night when the building was as fired up as it had been all season and a day when KU named a new football coach, the Jayhawks struggled to match that intensity in the first half. After a decent start, they shut it down and looked slow, sluggish and disinterested, which probably had a little something to do with the way Florida was taking it to them. KU responded with incredible energy in the second half — and the Fieldhouse faithful continued to urge the Jayhawks on — so the first-half funk is not reason to panic.
2 – KU coughed it up nine times in the first half and almost all of them were simply careless mistakes. The Jayhawks telegraphed passes, were lazy with the basketball and, perhaps worst of all, seemed to really try to press after making a mistake. They cleaned it up considerably in the second half, but their first-half issues were a good reminder that this is still a young team learning how to play for Self and how to play together.
3 – I hate to keep picking on the guy, but somewhere along the line, Jamari Traylor lost his confidence and that is really affecting his play. Against Floriday, Traylor missed two easy shots, committed two pretty bad turnovers and played his second lowest number of minutes (15) this season. It's not just that Traylor has lost confidence that's a concern. It's the fact that (a) he's still too important to this team to sit completely and (b) you can really see that every little mistake he makes bugs the heck out of him and that seems to add to the problem.
KU's spirited come-from-behind win over the Gators...
• Made Kansas 6-1 or better for the third-straight season and 10th time in Bill Self's 12 seasons at KU.
• Gave Kansas a 1-1 record in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge with both games against Florida.
• Made Kansas 4-2 all-time versus Florida.
• Made Kansas 3-0 in Allen Fieldhouse this season, 178-9 in AFH under Self and 717-109 all-time in the venue.
• Improved Self to 331-70 while at Kansas, 538-175 overall and 2-1 all-time against Florida.
• Made KU 2,132-823 all-time.
The Jayhawks continue their stretch of tough games, when they travel to Georgetown on Wednesday for a 6 p.m. tipoff with the Hoyas. The game will be shown on FOX Sports 1.
When I woke up this morning, I figured it would be just another normal day on the Kansas University coaching search trail. The hire seemed to be at least a few days away and my objective was to call some more sources and find out what people were hearing and/or talking about.
I should've known my day would be a little different when I woke up to a carton of ice cream in the sink and a note from my wife that said, “You put the ice cream back in the fridge last night.”
As I mentioned on Tuesday in my daily coaching search blog, Texas A&M assistant coach David Beaty was the name I produced most often when asked back in September and October who I thought would be the next head coach of the KU football program.
The reasons are plenty and have been well documented both on this site and throughout the Internet. Beaty has a great reputation as a top-notch recruiter and his ties to the Texas high school scene are as impressive as just about anyone's.
That should help him not only upgrade the talent at Kansas but also could aid him as he tries to put together a coaching staff up to the challenge of turning KU around.
As we moved through the process and learned about the criteria that would determine which candidates had a real shot and which didn't, it seemed like Beaty was an obvious name to keep at or near the top of the list.
He's been at Kansas in both good and bad times, so he knows the lay of the land and, like former KU interim coach Clint Bowen, has seen what works and what does not. I think that's huge and will allow Beaty to move forward quickly without having to waste much time getting that figured out. It's a process than can take as much as a year or two for most coaches and, although there will still be things Beaty sees for the first time — especially considering this is his first time holding down such a big-time position — his ability to lean on past experiences should help make any growing pains very minimal.
Beaty's was a name that checked several of the right boxes long before the end of the season arrived and the search ever officially began. There's no doubt that Beaty was on the KU radar from the moment Charlie Weis was fired and he most likely never left his perch of strong contender.
Several people I spoke with today said Beaty was very impressive during his phone interview this week. He must have been for the in-person interviews to go up in smoke, and I would think that's a good sign for the strength of this hire. Rather than merely impressing one guy, Beaty impressed an entire committee. One source told me there was not a single person on the committee who doubted Beaty after hearing his plan for how to lead the KU football program.
As I outlined this morning, that plan likely included detailed plans about his coaching staff, recruiting — both in Texas and Kansas — general offensive and defensive philosophies and ways to close the gap between KU and the rest of the Big 12 Conference.
It's a tall task for anyone to undertake and, for no other reason than that, you have to tip your cap to Beaty, 44, for being willing to take it. Sure, it's a promotion. Sure, it's a raise. But it was both of those things for Turner Gill, Charlie Weis and Terry Allen and things did not wind up working out too well for those three.
Overall, though, I like the hire. I think Beaty has a chance to put together a great staff and I think his energy, age and enthusiasm will be big assets for KU in this latest rebuilding project. If what I'm hearing about Beaty's salary range is accurate — base around $800,000 with incentives added on to that — I like the hire even more because it will (a) leave KU with more money to help him hire a killer staff and (b) keep him hungry.
Who cares what other schools pay or what other coaches make? This isn't a popularity contest. A lot of places it is. But Kansas cannot afford to have that mentality. It needs guys who can coach football and recruit talent and it should pay them what they're worth not what they want the job to be.
David Beaty is a well-respected guy — even if he's not a big name — and I don't think he'll have any trouble gaining the respect of the players, the KU athletic department and, ultimately, the fan base. The reason? He's a likable dude and it will not take people long to see that.