Breaking down KU football's latest recruiting class three at a time

All right, now that the signing day dust has settled and the most recent recruiting class has become an official part of Kansas football, let's take a quick look at what this all means for the Jayhawks in 2013.

I'll have plenty more reaction and analysis of this class and signing day itself throughout the day and in the coming days — including a probable podcast later this afternoon — but I wanted to get it all started with a fun and informal look at what I think this class can bring to KU.

So let's break it down into a handful of three-player categories and follow it up with a quick and crude look at what I think the first first-string might look this fall.

Here goes:

Three biggest impact players:
1. Marquel Combs, DT
2. Marcus Jenkins-Moore, LB
3. Isaiah Johnson, S

Three most needed players:
1. Andrew Bolton, DE
2. Chris Martin, DE
3. Cassius Sendish, CB

Three most electric players:
1. Ishmael Hyman, WR
2. Colin Spencer, RB
3. Kevin Short, DB

Three biggest dark horse contributors:
1. Mike Smithburg, OL
2. Dexter McDonald, DB
3. Ngalu Fusimalohi, OL

Three guys who need time:
1. Jordan Darling, QB
2. Montell Cozart, QB
3. Ben Johnson, TE

Three hardest hitters:
1. Samson Faifili, LB
2. Andrew Bolton, DE
3. Chris Martin, DE

Three fastest fliers:
1. Ishmael Hyman, WR
2. Rod Coleman, WR
3. Kellen Ash, LB

Three guys I liked more after Weis' presser
1. Mark Thomas, WR
2. Zach Fondal, OL
3. Tedarian Johnson, DL

Where this class ranks nationally:
25th – The Sporting News
45th – (7th in the Big 12)
50th – 24/7 (8th in the Big 12)
55th –

My way-too-early look at 2013 first-stringers:

QB – Jake Heaps
RB – James Sims
RB – Tony Pierson
WR – Justin McCay
WR – Rod Coleman
TE – Jimmay Mundine
LT – Zach Fondal
LG – Damon Martin
C – Mike Smithburg
RG – Ngalu Fusimalohi
RT – Aslam Sterling

DE – Andrew Bolton
DT – Ty McKinney
DT – Marquel Combs
DE – Chris Martin
LB – Marcus Jenkins-Moore
LB – Ben Heeney
LB – Samson Faifili
CB – Cassius Sendish
CB – JaCorey Shepherd
SS – Isaiah Johnson
FS – Kevin Short

Stay tuned for much, much more throughout the day and the rest of the week and check back a little later for a podcast with our impressions and reactions from signing day.



jayhawkintx1973 1 year, 2 months ago

If this is correct, only 2 players who were on defense a year ago will be starting, and Heeney is a beast. Jake Love will be a nice guy to rotate in and out in certain situations, but it looks the athleticism on the defense has been upgraded dramatically. On offense, if Turzilli gets his act together and Thomas is as fast as they say he is, when we wanna go four wides, we won't have a problem with spreading it out.

The focus will be getting pressure on opposing QBs and more aggressive play by the defensive backs taking the opponents' wrs out of rhythm.

rockchalk1990, Briscoe wasn't a burner by any means. Marcus Henry was faster as is Turzilli an even Omigie(but Omigie has to catch the ball). I don't see Omigie getting much time except in mop up duty unless he fixes his hands problem.

The defensive Front is upgraded talent an athletic wise. Let's see how the execute. If they execute well... that will be huge.


Andy Tweedy 1 year, 2 months ago

Love the article, but I can't see any way that many of these JUCO guys start. I'm way to pragmatic to take what we've seen from the JUCO guys we've had over the years and think that large a percentage of them will work out that well.


KGphoto 1 year, 2 months ago

Admire at C and Spencer at LT over Smithburg and Fondal.

Greg Allen at C opposite Sendish. Shepherd as the nickel.

Pierson comes off because we'll rarely see both he and Sims together in the backfield. Instead I'd add a FB (Bourbon) a WR (Parmalee) or another TE (Smiley/Brooks)

Guys who will be tough to beat for a starting spot:

-Jake Love at SLB. (He beasts. +1 season Big 12 experience.)

-Ben Goodman at DE. (35lbs of muscle in one redshirt year! Good grief, what will we see this year with Holsopple? +1 season Big 12 experience.)

-Tevin Shaw at FS. (Incredible overall athlete. Great speed and agility. I love the wrestling background. However, now that Jackson is gone, does Weis consider him for RB depth?)

-Andrew Turzili at WR. (Good length and speed. He got past some Big 12 corners last year but we could rarely hit him. +1 year experience in Big 12 and Weis' system.


cabmando 1 year, 2 months ago

what is Ben Heeney's status after run in a local bar/ arrest?


Ferd Magellan 1 year, 2 months ago

Most needed? I'd have to say wide receivers by a large margin. I was hoping we could steal one or two good ones on signing day. No unit has been as bad as our receivers since Gill was hired.


Jim Jackson 1 year, 2 months ago

Drunken, with all that's going on ST is an afterthought but I do know that Weis has a transfer who will be eligible at K who is supposed to be nasty.

I really hope Combs' situation does not mimic Mckinney's.

Extremely pumped about next season, it is going to be awesome.


canuckhawk 1 year, 2 months ago

Interesting that so many recruiting nerds were poo pooing rival's team rating in favor of the 24/7 rating because the latter does much better at considering JUCO talent. Then Rivals gives us a higher (weighted ranking).

The difference between the Sporting News and the ESPN rating is crazy. One of these must be more concerned about the KC market. I'm not saying which one...but it doesn't have dominion over the sporting world.


Bewareofthephog Fifety-Five 1 year, 2 months ago

Matt, or anyone else who cares to respond, who do you think will be our primary special teams people next year?


texashawk10 1 year, 2 months ago

Matt, what are the odds of the same thing happening to Combs that happened to McKinney last year?


Lawkan 1 year, 2 months ago

I thought Admire was supposed to be pretty good. He has had plenty of time to develop shouldn't he be favored over Smithburg?


Brandon Mahon 1 year, 2 months ago

What do you think about ALLEN over Shepard at the opposite corner?? Campo said he could have been a huge player last year?? and I think shaw will show something in a year or two after having two years to learn and train. Also I would love to see Burbon get some more PT he is a great back and we need to really find a way to implement him. Also what do we think about Mark Thomas, Hyman, and Spencer?? I think Hyman Spencer and Short will be used on Special Teams as returners, but i would def love to see Spencer and Hyman get some serious PT but Thomas with his size and speed will be tough to not play... I just dont see many guys from last years specialty players finding a spot... Maybe Turrizilli but idk bout Ford or Omigie.


Chris Bailey 1 year, 2 months ago

Man. Not one starter on the D-line from last year. I hope that says a lot about the new guys. I also find it odd that Tavai isn't seeing the starting lineup. I thought he was gonna be a stud. Anyway hope all these guys help bolster the team and help us get over the hump to winning a few games.


Reuben_J_Cogburn 1 year, 2 months ago


See you have Colin Spencer at RB. Wasn't he a corner in high school?

I think it would be great if he had the speed to provide some mismatches on offense.


Michael Maris 1 year, 2 months ago

As always Matt, I really enjoy reading your football stories.

You read in an ealier article that Huldon Tharpe is contemplating terminating his collegiate football career (as I remember). However, I read on another site (ealier today) that Marquise Jackson is considering ending his Jayhawk career as well.

Have you heard anything any such rumors?


Boouk 1 year, 2 months ago

I'm not sure about Trent Smiley ahead of Jimmay Mundine at TE and Faifili ahead of Love and Tharp at OLB, but I like the look of the rest of it. Lots of new players on defense.


Dale Stringer 1 year, 2 months ago

So Matt, where do you think Skyler Miles fits into the rotation. Asking because everyone was thinking of him so highly this time last year and now there's not even a whisper.


Doug Cramer 1 year, 2 months ago

Matt - you're great at being KU's football beat writer. You put a ton of time and effort into it. So don't take me the wrong way because you're a good dude. But you're way too OPTIMISTIC about some of these guys. Way too optimistic.


Charlotte_Jhawk 1 year, 2 months ago

Matt, I follow the St Louis Rams. Jeff Fischer seems to be focusing on the Rams defense first.
They made significant progress in his first year. The Rams were in almost every game.

Reading between the lines, is this what Charlie is doing at KU? Not flashy, but I think this approach could work. Particularly since we have great RB's on the offense side.


CardHawkFan 1 year, 2 months ago

What about that McDonald kid? Did he push for time on the field before he left and still Smiley over Mundine? ...interesting, but I trust your word. And no love for Love at the LB spot?


Jim Jackson 1 year, 2 months ago

I thought Isaiah Johnson was more of Strong Safety...He is bigger (heavier) than short...


rockwall 1 year, 2 months ago

What does the punter and place kicker look like? Those were huge holes last year.


Reuben_J_Cogburn 1 year, 2 months ago


You've heard it time and time again. "JUCO players are a coin toss."

Is there anything that would lead you to believe that might not be the case with this incoming crew? That some of these guys are the real deal and not just hype?

Too early to make any predictions I know, but after last night, we could all use a little change of topic.


clevelandjayhawker 1 year, 2 months ago

Glad to have a non basketball story today, thank you.

The battle for PT in the secondary should be a lot of fun to watch and bring out the best in everyone.


NotTait 1 year, 2 months ago

Three guys who need time - hmmm, aren't they the three KC kids???


Pbbut 1 year, 2 months ago

Looks interesting, especially when considering that 15 of the 22 on the depth chart weren't on the KU active roster last year. We have a tendency to get infatuated with the new blood. Remember how we ecstatic we were last spring with the signing of Schyler Miles? We'll see how the veterans respond. I'll bet they fight their way onto the field more than you might think.
I know we didn't sign any RBs this class, but do you think they might use Bourbon in an HBack type of role sometimes? I like the way the kid caught the ball and I just hate to see that kind of speed and size sitting.


Brennan Keller 1 year, 2 months ago

Really liking this defense and how it's coming together. We got some tough hard-hitting guys out there.


TheRealTripleA 1 year, 2 months ago

Matt, love the first crack at a defensive depth chart. Heavy JUCO transfer which I hope to see as well. My only change would be Kevin Short at corner opposite Sendish and put McDonald or Tevin Shaw at the other safety with Johnson. I'm really excited about this secondary, with Greg Allen coming off red shirt as well. With this class coming in, I imagined only 1 or 2 returning players in starting positions on defense. Still a lot to prove when they all get in town next fall but very exciting.


Kyle Coffey 1 year, 2 months ago

Matt, First of all, you are the best at this. No other website has really anything close to this. We are very fortunate to have this kind of coverage.

Do you think Heeney will face any suspension for his off the field incident? Will we see any action from Tevin Shaw? Redshirted last year, and heard a lot about him coming in, but not much since..


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