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KU football's 2013 recruiting class the Class of 2014's best friend

Now that the first wave of the Class of 2014 has made its way to campus and started summer school — a little more than half of the 20 guys left to report in the incoming class are here and all but a couple of them should be here by July — there is one thing worth remembering as fans start to analyze how well Charlie Weis and company did this time around.

The Class of 2013 is the Class of 2014's best friend.

There's no question that some of the guys in the incoming class leave a little to be desired, be it because they have low star ratings, were late commitments or have offer lists made up of smaller schools. But after making a splash with several guys in last year's recruiting endeavor, the Jayhawks appear to have bypassed the hype and sought out the best fits at positions of need.

Six of the 23 commitments are on the defensive line. Four are guys who figure to play in the secondary and the Jayhawks also added four offensive linemen and three wide receivers, both areas of need.

The reason searching for guys with the mentality and make-up the coaching staff desires can work is because several of those guys figure to be given the time they need to develop. Why? Because there are still a bunch of players in the Class of 2013 who have yet to put their stamp on the program and will be counted on during the 2014 season.

Think about it: At least eight guys from last year's class did not play a down in 2013 (15 players in the class, or about half, played significant snaps) but will be expected to be contributors in 2014, some as potential difference makers.

They are:

• Defensive end Andrew Bolton, a juco transfer who red-shirted last season and spent the year rehabbing and injury while also getting bigger, stronger and better acclimated to Div. I grind.

• Defensive back Kevin Short, a juco transfer who was forced to sit out the 2013 season because of academic confusion, which only made one of the top talents on the roster even more hungry than he was already.

• Wide receiver Nick Harwell, who sat out after transferring from Miami (Ohio) and is expected to step in as the Jayhawks' much-needed No. 1 option in the passing game immediately.

• Tight end Ben Johnson, a true freshman about whom whispers surfaced last summer that said no one had a better preseason in terms of physical improvement and on-the-field performance.

• Offensive lineman Joe Gibson, a red-shirt freshman who came to KU as a walk-on and battled juco newcomer Keyon Haughton all spring for the starting spot at center. Haughton seemed to emerge from spring ball with the lead, but Gibson is well liked and, at the very least, could help spell Haughton from time to time if needed.

• Offensive tackle Brian Beckmann, a sophomore now in his third season who has great potential and figures to start 2014 as a valuable back-up at either tackle spot.

• Linebacker Colton Goeas, who came with the reputation as a big hitter and spent his first year in town adding size and speed and working on his game rather than worrying about opponents.

• Buck Marcus Jenkins-Moore, a juco transfer who came to town with all kinds of hype and speed but injured his knee shortly after arriving on campus and missed the season.

When you consider that four of those players call the defensive side of the ball home and will be plugged into a defense that returns nine starters from its 2013 Week 12 depth chart, it's clear that KU will need very few of the defensive players it signs in 2014 to play right away. If any.

That's good news because it figures to give all of the new guys time to work on their minds and bodies with strength coach Scott Holsopple without the stress and pressure of being asked to deliver on Saturdays, too.

For a program in the position Kansas finds itself in today, having the luxury of allowing guys to develop is almost unheard of. And it's also key to sustained success in the rebuilding process.

The intent of this blog is not to say that none of the guys in the Class of 2014 are capable of playing right away. There are several guys who could — and probably will — work their way onto the field immediately. And, if they do, that won't be a bad thing for the Jayhawks.

But if they don't, be it because they're not ready or because they're not needed, slapping a red-shirt on them and letting them fortify whatever the Class of 2015 recruiting haul looks like can only add depth and stability to the program in the years to come.

For your amusement, here are a couple of links to KU's most recent recruiting classes:

Class of 2013

Class of 2014

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Comments

David A. Smith 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Very good point. It does appear that, while we are rebuilding, we are also setting up a foundation of players that may not have to play immediately. If we can keep them off of the field, we'll be doing this the right way.

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Doug Cramer 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Weis went the JUCO route in the fall of 2012.

Not only did it fail from a performance standpoint, it also led to a lack of talented underclassmen developing within the program. (Pearce Slater, Marquel Combs, Chris Martin)

The 2014 recruiting class was dead last in the Big 12, and lacks talent period.

Recruiting was supposed to be a strength for Weis. Unfortunately his past two classes will continue to set the program back for seasons to come.

Now that we are approaching 5 seasons since "The Great KU Witch Hunt", lets all assess the question we had back in the fall of 2009.

Does anyone still think it was a great idea to force Mangino out ?

Was it worth it ?

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Dirk Medema 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Not sure which rankings you're looking at, but Rivals has KU ahead of ISU and just behind TCU with fewer recruits. You also apparently missed

ESPN 300 recruit Kyron Watson, the #9 OLB,

ESPN 300 Jacob Bragg, the #3 OC

Traevohn Wrench, the #34 RB

Corey Avery, the #35 RB

D.J. Williams, the #58 DT

Darious Crawley, the #68 ATH

These are excellent recruits.

The JUCO route was a necessary evil of losing a recruiting class and a half in the coaching transitions. And yes we are making progress, and no I don't miss him. It will be worth it in the next couple years, tho it will never be enough to cause whiners like you to be quiet.

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Doug Cramer 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Dirk and Dustin - my bad on the facts. You are correct that ISU is ranked behind us. The last time I looked at Rivals, we were last, but it appears to have adjusted.

Point being though, this program needs consistent top 15-20 classes to get our talent level on par with the rest of the Big 12.

Weis doesn't have the Xs and Os...or the Jimmy's and the Joes.

That's not a good combination when you're in a BCS conference.

Finally - Dirk you mention the progress. I'm not trying to be argumentative here...but is that really an honest assessment. Dude we were bad last year. We were actually in more games Weis's first year...despite the 1-11 record.

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Jim Jackson 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Wrong again Doug (as usual) the 2014 class rankings on Rivals does not include UCLA transfer TJ Millweard, high 3 star, and the 4 star TE we got from Florida. That would've put us in 6th place.

6th place is not bad for a team that has 4 games in 2 seasons.

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Lucas Town 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Weis better coach this team like they are a #6 recruiting class.

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Dustin Engelken 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Yeah...No, Doug, the 2014 class was not last in the Big 12. Not by any measure, actually. According to ESPN, KSU and ISU were both ranked lower. Rivals had ISU ranked lower and had us just behind TCU. Now, it's way too early to tell whether or not Weis will be successful here, but we should at least have an honest debate using facts.

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Lucas Town 3 months, 4 weeks ago

K-State is always last in recruiting, so this argument is mind numbing. People say, "well Snyder knows how to evaluate talent and develop players." Why can't our coach do that?

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Dirk Medema 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Hidden in the transfers (guaranteed RS) is the TE from UF - the #1 TE 2 years ago. Someday, one of those guys is going to pay off for us.

Someone (Doug?) will look at stats and say that he didn't make it as a gator and will just be another Crist/Heaps, but they won't tell you that no TE in the UF O produced worth anything. Would seem that it might be a failure of the system (hoping).

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Jim Jackson 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Charlie ran ND into the ground? LOL really? They went to back to back BCS games with Charlie. Sure, they lost them but they still went. Also, the Nat'l championship game they went to- most of those guys were Charlie's recruits.

Your arguments are full of factual inaccuracies.

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Doug Cramer 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Good post. Although I do give Weis credit for his success as an NFL Offensive Coordinator.

Unfortunately that doesn't qualify him to be a head coach at a non-traditional football school that desperately needs some success.

Why do we desperately need success...because when this conference re-configuration crisis rolls around again...it would be nice to at least be competitive in football...and bringing in some fans / revenue.

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Dirk Medema 3 months, 3 weeks ago

"The only thing the house cleaning has accomplished"

You apparently missed the fact that we went from having something like a quarter of the team failing (leads to dismissing 29 players) to having one of the best GPA's. And most of TG's players were gone by the first year (29 of 50 recruits, tho not all 29 were his). It's the reason CW had to recruit so many JC's. We were missing a full class of upperclassmen.

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Jim Stauffer 3 months, 4 weeks ago

You know, I kind of like to present things the way Charlie does here. Those who disagree with me are blind to the facts and those who agree with me are some of the smartest people on the planet.

Guys like Charlie like to compare Mangino's Orange Bowl with Weis' second year here.

Yes, he got rid of 29 guys and then some more left as well. This happens when programs turn over and have had little success.

I do agree that where the rubber meets the road is in player development. Of course, those who dislike CW like to say he can't develop players because he hasn't had an AA yet in his two years of development.

The constant dissing on the juco recruits is just plain wrong. Yes, some of the most highly ranked guys fouled up and are not here. But a very solid number of that group is still here and in the two deep this year.

Really all I ask of guys like you Charlie is that you compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. And oh, yeah, how about the great class MM recruited off his Orange Bowl win? Doug and Charlie; would you like some more classes like that?

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Doug Cramer 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Jim - it didn't matter how low Mangino's classes were ranked. He knew how to develop players, and more importantly, implement a system that made us competitive.

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Dirk Medema 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Competitive? Like the seven losses to finish out his time here? He peaked at the orange bowl, and we were sliding down from there. Maybe he's changed and his personnel skills won't derail his football knowledge. There's hope - compare the Pendleton celebration flame that went viral with how he handled Talib at the OB a couple years later. That being said, how many coaches don't celebrate, but rather admonish their players for wanting to celebrate after winning a BCS game. That undermines all the player development. That sort of thing was subtle but evident throughout the program, and was the root of his demise, though there was way too much fabrication, and ultimately just buried it in a buyout.

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