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.
• 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: