What we've learned about KU football coach Charlie Weis' recruiting style


With the second national signing day of the Charlie Weis era at Kansas University now just two weeks away, it seems like a good time to quickly go over some of the main things we've learned about Weis' recruiting strategy.

We all know that the second-year coach can walk in to any recruit's house, flash his Super Bowl rings and immediately wow everyone in the room. You might be surprised to learn, however, that he doesn't do that very often.

Weis' recruiting strategy is simple and it falls right in line with the way he runs his football program: Hit them with substance and style.

Based upon my conversations with several KU recruits and a few words from Weis himself, it sounds as if the KU coach is as brutally honest on the recruiting trail as he is with his Jayhawk players and he does not make empty promises just to entice prospects to sign with Kansas. During in-home visits he shows up in his best suits and allows the players and their families to ask him anything and everything they can think of.

It's not a strategy that works for everybody and it does not appeal to every player Weis targets. But, as we can see from a recruiting class that's ranked 37th nationally by and the continued and rising interest in the program, it seems to be working for KU.

Of course, there are several other factors at play here, though. And they are, in no particular order:

The presence of Dave Campo as his defensive coordinator. During the chase for players in the Class of 2013 alone KU picked up some big-time prospects who passed on some pretty big schools, including a couple who call the SEC home. Campo was a big reason for that. And as long as he's in town, KU will continue to draw serious interest from some of the top defensive prospects they target.

Forget about a hotbed for recruiting. Weis has proven that he and his coaching staff will go anywhere to get their guy. That's obvious from the multiple trips many of them took to Hawaii during the past couple of months. It may not have landed them the big kahuna they were looking for — offensive lineman Reeve Koehler, who chose Arkansas last weekend — but they were able to pick up a pretty nice, under-the-radar linebacker in Colton Goeas and also made some nice connections that can only help in the future.

Speaking of the staff, most of the guys on Weis' crew have what it takes to bring in talent, but few of them have been as impressive early on as tight ends coach Jeff Blasko. Blasko (one of the guys who traveled to Hawaii) played a huge role in landing some big-time juco guys this offseason, including top-rated overall juco prospect Marquel Combs as well as offensive lineman Ngalu Fusimalohi, linebackers Marcus Jenkins-Moore, Samson Faifili and Colton Goeas and defensive back Cassius Sendish. All of those guys could — and probably should — be in KU's two-deep depth chart to open the 2013 season. Blasko's presence on the staff (along with Weis' quick decision to move Clint Bowen to linebackers coach) helped keep things calm when news broke that DeMontie Cross was leaving for TCU.

• Weis is not afraid to work. And travel. And miss out on sleep. And use whatever means available to recruit including modern-era tools such as Facebook and Twitter. With the recent rule changes (look for a story on that soon) opening up the door for unlimited contact between coaches and recruits, it bodes extremely well for KU's future classes that Weis is already comfortable going full speed ahead. Some coaches will have a tougher time with the adjustment.

• When all is said and done and the Jayhawks will have nearly 20 junior-college players in the 2013 class. That's a lot for any class and certainly as many as KU has had in a single haul, but it's not necessarily a sign of things to come. Although Weis has said that he would be more than willing to take junior-college transfers every year, he also said his ideal classes would include a blend of high school and juco talent, with the number of juco transfers tapering off each year as the program begins to develop younger talent more and more each year.

• While most of the aforementioned facts represent good news for KU, there remains one question surrounding Weis' recruiting that figures to take some time to answer but also is one that could go a long way toward determining how successful he will be at Kansas — How long until Weis and company are bringing in more four- and five-star players? Such players have never flocked to KU with much regularity, but with Weis and Campo being big-time draws, the number of big-time recruits could be on the rise if KU can return to its winning ways. This year's class features two four-star prospects (juco transfers Marquel Combs and Chris Martin), 20 three-star players and three two-star guys.

• Finally, Weis was asked toward the end of the 2012 season if he was concerned about the team's record hurting recruiting. As we all know by now, KU's current class is ranked in the Top 40 nationally and Weis' answer to the question illustrates why. “The best year I ever had recruiting in the past was after the worst season,” he said. “Because more guys see an opportunity to play earlier. They all want to play. Yeah, they all want to play.” A closer look at the rest of the Top 40, however, reveals that nearly all of the programs in that group are what many would consider traditional powers and certainly programs that have been mainstays in the Top 25 during the past several seasons. There are only a few programs in the Top 40 — KU (37th), Illinois (33rd), Rutgers (40th) and maybe one or two others — that many would consider to be “outsiders” on that list. KU's presence certainly speaks to the impact of Weis and Campo and the name recognition that both coaches bring to KU's recruiting efforts.


Ron Prichard 5 years, 4 months ago

Matt, thanks for giving me my football fix today! Any word on where we will be looking with the remaining two scholarships? Any leads or offers?

Keep the offseason information coming! Just don't ever call it a quiet offseason again!

Boouk 5 years, 4 months ago

OT Poet Thomas, who also has an offer from Florida, just visited KU on Jan. 18 according to ESPN.

hawk316 5 years, 4 months ago

rap, I second that! Matt, this was really an enjoyable and informative article. Thanks so much.

Cora Smith 5 years, 4 months ago

Weiss said he wanted to coach five years. Won't other teams use that against us in recruiting starting next year? Has he said he will stay longer? Whom is he grooming to take his place eventually? His son? Campo? The O line coach? Thanks

Jeremy Paul 5 years, 4 months ago

I've got my eye on you BILL MCNEIL. One spelling or grammatical error and you'll never hear the end of it.

Matt Tait 5 years, 4 months ago

The last time I heard him talk about it (and it's been a while) he mentioned that his wife was adding time to his stay here every time they discussed it.

Bottom line is this: He wants to be here as long as it takes to turn KU into a perennial winner, so long as he's given the time and opportunity to do so. If they're making steps in the right direction each year, I think he will be. And I also think he can get it to that point. Whether that's another 3-5 years 5-7 years or 8-10 years is anybody's guess right now.

VaJay 5 years, 4 months ago

You're not exactly the sharpest tool in the box, are you? No, I didn't think so... Try to come up with a little more substance next time.

actorman 5 years, 4 months ago

You're asking for a lot, VaJay. He knows how to make stupid posts.........thats about it.

Matt Bowers 5 years, 4 months ago

Does neworleans need attention?

Rock Chalk

Mat Davis 5 years, 4 months ago

By being honest with recruits, it brings in the right type of player, who is willing to work for it. Empty promises by coaches, leads to discontent when a player doesn't get on the field, or it leads to a sense of entitlement. I applaud Coach Weis for his style.

hawk316 5 years, 4 months ago

Amen! This is one of the characteristics of Coach Weis that I most appreciate: his honesty. He is an in-your-face straight shooter (without being mean-spirited), and most people really appreciate that. I know I do.

Matt Tait 5 years, 4 months ago

Absolutely. That's the intriguing part about recruiting to KU. Previous coaching staffs have proven that you can win — and win big — with a roster full of three-star guys. But most of those guys did not have the mass appeal of guys like Weis and Campo. So, it begs the question, if those coaches can routinely start getting 4 and maybe even a couple of 5 star guys to Lawrence, then what?

But you're right. It's absolutely not necessary. So much of college football is player development.

hawk316 5 years, 4 months ago

True, indeed. As is well known, those "star" ratings are often useful only as a general guideline. How many 4 and 5-star players did not quite fulfill expectations, and how many 2 and 3-star recruits surpassed expectations? Many! As you correctly observe, Matt, "So much of college football is player development," and that's exactly where good coaching comes into play

Eric Dawson 5 years, 4 months ago

Matt, KU Athletics reports that Colin Spencer has enrolled and his addition gives KU football 11 new faces since the end of the fall term. Since classes started yesterday (22JAN) and we haven't heard anything to the contrary, one could assume that all 10 signees are here and enrolled.

But is that a good assumption?

Matt Tait 5 years, 4 months ago

Yep. All systems go from all I've been told.

Matt Tait 5 years, 4 months ago

Just seeing some stuff about Marquel Combs not being here yet. Not sure what exactly is going on but I'm looking into it. Sounds like it could have something to do with classes and/or paperwork. Again, not sure of the details yet, but I'll stay on it.

Whatever the issue (if there is one) it has nothing to do with his commitment to KU. He's as on board today as ever.

Boouk 5 years, 4 months ago

Looking ahead to next years recruiting class, the state of Kansas a 4 players who will probably be really good in OT Braden Smith, DE Peyton Newell, RB Traevohn Wrench and OT Austin Chambers. Smith already has offers from Texas, Michigan, Notre Dame, OU, Ohio State, Stanford, ect., but KU should have a decent chance at the other 3. Hopefully KU gets at least one of them.

Matt Tait 5 years, 4 months ago

Wrench is the big one here. The others aren't untouchable (except for Smith) but Wrench is a potential impact player who would be coming in at exactly the right time given that Sims and Cox would be graduating.

From all I've heard -- from both sides of this thing -- the KU coaching staff is going out of its way to make sure Wrench knows how much he's wanted here.

bay93 5 years, 4 months ago


What makes you say the Braden Smith is "untouchable"? Thank you

Chris Bruning 5 years, 4 months ago

bay, matt is right sources close to Smith have said there is ZERO chance the kid stays in KS. I guess maybe i should use "very unlikely" instead of zero as i can't remember the quote exactly, but it doesn't look good for KU or little bro.

Matt Tait 5 years, 4 months ago

Last I heard, Smith had pretty much turned down an offer from Texas because he was waiting on Alabama to call. That was a while ago and I don't know how much things have changed since, but KU's definitely not to the point yet where it can expect to get into that kind of battle.

That said, I'm sure the coaching staff has reached out and is giving it the old college try. I just wouldn't expect it to mean much with this one.

Time will tell.

Dyrk Dugan 5 years, 4 months ago

the bottom line is, HCCW and DCDC know how to evaluate football players. who can really play football? that's who you have to recruit...and it doesn't matter how many stars are by their name.

Talib is a perfect example from the Mangino days....a two star guy per offer from Wyoming and Baylor. we land him, and he's the best CB i've ever watched play for my school. finding football players is all there is to it...and i think Weis has a lot of credibility to get a kid to the NFL.

Look, we can negatively recruit vs. Snyder more than someone can negatively recruit against us. we and the whole universe knows Mr. Bill's days are numbered....he'll be 74 for cryin out loud next year. we need to be able to compete with, and beat, ISU and KSU every year.

and we have a better recruiting class than both of them this year.

Tim Orel 5 years, 4 months ago

Is there a list of the various Big12 school's recruiting class rankings?

Matt Tait 5 years, 4 months ago

This is from's latest list, ranked in order of how they place in the conference with their national rankings in parentheses:

  1. Oklahoma (15)
  2. Texas (17)
  3. West Virginia (22)
  4. Oklahoma State (25)
  5. Baylor (34)
  6. Kansas (37)
  7. TCU (39)
  8. Kansas State (49)
  9. Iowa State (50)
  10. Texas Tech (83)

Jeff Coffman 5 years, 4 months ago

Seems like OU and UT are having bad years of recruiting.

Chris1955 5 years, 4 months ago

Texas A&M has been killing UT thus far in the recruiting season, with the SEC buzz factor in their favor. The other factor that hurt UT was that when Johnny Football was recruited by UT, UT wanted to turn him into a DB.

UT in recent years has been overly concerned with numbers evaluations and not football playing ability. Lastly, Mack is starting to wear thin with Longhorn fans. He's never been viewed as good of a coach as he is a recruiter. Another loss to OU this coming season might find Mack announcing his retirement at the end of the 2013 season.

stm62 5 years, 4 months ago

I like HCCW's honesty and straighttforwardness. It seems to be a characteristic of successful coaches and reminds me of another VERY ACCOMPLISHED coach in the KU athletic department.

Bob Bailey 5 years, 4 months ago

Good Stuff, Matt. But some of us worry about Defense, including some of the posters (maybe not here today).

Offense sells tickets but Defense wins games!

Defense has gone to heck in the whole football industry, pros and colleges both. In the 2011 exhibition game, GreenBay/SanDiego, the defensive back made a tremendous success of falling on his face. The SD receiver caught the ball way on the right side behind the line of scrimmage. He took 2 baby steps to his left and the defensive back missed him completely, maybe grazing his leg with his shirt, and fell headlong 2-3 yds behind the receiver. And the Receiver had a clear shot all the way to the 6 yd line!

KState lost the game with Oregon the first play of the game. Only one defender had a clear shot at the runner, way back where he caught the ball. Unfortunately, he was 4 - 5 steps behind the Belt Buckle Rule, and about 2-3 steps behind the 'tackle' and the runner scored. Clearly KState didn't do a top team quality of teaching tackling.

Apparently KU couldn't/didn't teach tackling either. In the KState game, #24, 23, and 55 hit the late game sub QB to our right side, 6 - 8 yds down field. He shook them off and made another 8 - 10 yds where three other defenders hit him, with great effort, and put him on the ground. And #24 was the guy dismissed from rhe team this year -- no tackling(?).

It appears that Bowen/Campo are great guys, good recruiters, but can't teach tackling and coverage. Elmer Schaake taught tackling to freshmen in Lawrence Memorial HS in 1941, some 70 years ago! The Defensive Scheme is useless without GOOD tackling and coverage.

Your editor Keegan wrote 2 of the best stories ever about Reese and Worten(sp) our OC. A couple of clarifications might be in order. He should have quoted Reese, "The Defender's hips were mis-aligned. He could defend a pass over there, but couldn't defend one over here. So I threw the ball to the receiver he couldn't defend." Probably 2 steps away from what he actually said. But after 70 years, who would know that a QB would have and USE a corollary to the Belt Buckle Rule. It, too, should be adopted and taught to all potential QB's.

Why hasn't Keegan, or you, ever interviewed Parseghian? He is close to ND and he has a Foundation very much like Weis has for his daughter. And why would Weis accept Parcel's advice and hire his man for DC? Why didn't Weis ever consult with Parseghian? His Offense stood up pretty well, it was Defensive Disaster that cost them all their jobs.

Keep Canpo and Bowen if you like, but for feaven's sake hire someone who can teach Defense. We may be standing in line for another 1 - 11!

Jim McKale 5 years, 4 months ago

Smith's grandparents live next door to me and they say his dad went to KU and he does not want him going to KU, and they are KU fans.

Dirk Medema 5 years, 4 months ago

Don't sleep on Jackson as the next big RB.

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