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Bledsoe decision similar to past KU football great Gilbert Brown

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LHS senior Amani Bledsoe gives his signature salute (the Moose) after a sack in a 63-7 victory over Olathe South on Friday, Oct. 9, 2015, at LHS.

LHS senior Amani Bledsoe gives his signature salute (the Moose) after a sack in a 63-7 victory over Olathe South on Friday, Oct. 9, 2015, at LHS. by Richard Gwin

When news broke Friday morning that four-star Lawrence High defensive end Amani Bledsoe was making an official visit to the Kansas University football program this weekend, the question begged, how much of a shot do the Jayhawks really have at landing him?

Kansas coaches can't talk about Bledsoe — or any other recruit — in any way, shape or form, so we'll have to lean on a little history to examine the odds.

Should Bledsoe pick Kansas, he would become the highest rated recruit to ever sign with Kansas football. That alone would make him a part of KU history for life. From there, anything he did on the field simply would add to his legacy.

After looking at it a little closer, I can't help but see strong comparisons between Bledsoe and former KU great Gilbert Brown.

Like Bledsoe in Kansas, Brown was one of the most highly decorated players during his senior season at Detroit's Mackenzie High. Named Michigan's Gatorade Player of the Year, the defensive tackle easily could have gone to in-state power Michigan or any number of other big time programs. Instead, he picked Kansas, where he helped build one of the best defenses in school history, was a part of the 1992 Aloha Bowl championship team and started all but two games during his four-year Kansas career before going on to enjoy a 10-year career in the NFL, where he won Super Bowl XXXI with the Green Bay Packers after being selected in the third round of the 1993 NFL Draft, No. 79 overall, by Minnesota.

Gilbert Brown, left, and Khristopher Booth helped lead the 1992
Jayhawk defense.

Gilbert Brown, left, and Khristopher Booth helped lead the 1992 Jayhawk defense. by J-W file photo

Brown was in town for a KU game during the 2015 season, and I remember then asking KU defensive coordinator Clint Bowen about his former KU teammate's path to Kansas.

Bowen said he used to ask Brown all the time why in the heck he chose to come to Kansas instead of joining the Wolverines and playing in front of 100,000 fans every Saturday. The answer, according to Bowen, was simple: Brown wanted to play for a program where he thought he could make a more immediate and meaningful impact and help build something out of nothing.

There isn't a more nothing program out there right now than Kansas, which just wrapped up an 0-12 season, and Bledsoe picking the Jayhawks could have the kind of impact that Brown choosing Kansas did for Glen Mason.

There's no doubt that the tall, lean and athletic 6-foot-5, 272-pound D-End would be in line for some serious playing time right away at KU. Heck, he probably could have logged some serious snaps for KU in 2015 as a high school senior.

Bledsoe has a final five of Baylor, Kansas, North Carolina State, Oklahoma and Oregon. And he already has visited the other four programs. The fact that he chose Kansas as the place to take his fifth and final official visit — instead of picking some place like UCLA — shows just how serious he is about the Jayhawks. The fact that it is believed Bledsoe will be the only official visitor in town provides KU coach David Beaty and company a golden opportunity to put on the full-court press to convince Bledsoe that staying home is the right move for him. They might not fly planes around town pulling signs with Bledsoe's name and jersey number in crimson and blue, but you can bet that the 2015 all-state selection, Sunflower League MVP and recent Buck Buchanan Award winner will have the full and undivided attention of every KU coach and staff member in town this weekend.

From the sound of things, Oklahoma appears to be KU's biggest competition for Bledsoe. And isn't OU an awful lot like Michigan?

The only question left to answer now is whether Bledsoe is an awful lot like Brown.

Comments

Brett McCabe 1 year, 3 months ago

What a defensive line that was - Brown, Maumalanga (sp) and Stubblefield - has to be the greatest defensive line we've ever fielded.

If you look at the guys returning, plus the commitments we have, then add Bledsoe - suddenly we have the potential to build one of the best D-Lines in the conference.

Michael Maris 1 year, 3 months ago

Yes, I remember the season with G. Brown, C. Maumalanga and D. Stubblefield. I reminisce about those few seasons with Coach Mason's teams.

I will say this, I don't know if we could yet put the Jayhawk's DL up near the top of the conference (if Bledsoe was to sign with the Jayhawks). But his signing, would sure be a huge step in the right direction. Stay in Town Bledsoe.

Aaron Paisley 1 year, 3 months ago

Matt, do you know if Beaty is going to try and convince A&M QB Kyle Allen to transfer to KU?

Brett McCabe 1 year, 3 months ago

This is interesting, another 5-star qb on the move.

If he came to KU, he's sit for Willis's sophomore year and then have two years to try and win the job, which might be difficult if Willis performs. I wonder if he might look for more of a sure-thing, possibly somewhere with a graduating senior-starter next year?

Interesting stuff, for sure.

Brent Held 1 year, 3 months ago

with Kyle Allen you have guaranteed talent, he has performed with A&M but they had Kyler Murray sitting behind him and ready to go. I know it'd be nice for Willis to be a consistent QB for KU but with Kyle Allen coming in then there's no doubt that it would be a sure thing he would start. With that being said...I don't think Kyle Allen is coming to KU

Aaron Paisley 1 year, 3 months ago

If Beaty goes after Allen, it's a big sign that he doesn't think Willis or Stanley can get it done. Allen has not redshirted yet so he will have 2 years of eligibility where it goes. He wants to transfer to a P5 school with an outgoing QB, and KU could meet that if Michael Cummings comes back next year. There's also the obvious connection between Allen and Beaty at A&M that could be an influence on Allen. Oklahoma sounds like the front runner right now and I don't expect Allen to end up in Lawrence, but Beaty needs to at least look into this possibility because Allen is definitely better than Willis or Stanley.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 3 months ago

OU would also seem like the better fit from the QB situation. Isn't next year the last for Baker? Losing a year by transferring in conference w/o a release?

William Woody 1 year, 3 months ago

Maybe Brown should be in town to help Beaty and staff recruit the big fella :)

Gary Denning 1 year, 3 months ago

"the highest ranking player to ever sign with Kansas"???? Kirwin Bell, Frank Seuer and KC Brown would like to have a word with you.

Jim Stauffer 1 year, 3 months ago

If Allen comes to KU and is very successful it will be the first time someone who was disgruntled somewhere else worked out here. No thanks. Beaty can recruit us good QB's year in and year out. Willis and Stanley will do just fine.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 3 months ago

Will Smith, 6-3, 327, Jr., OL out of Shawnee, Kansas (Shawnee Mission Northwest) is currently #72, so it should work for him to keep his number. It might be a nice gesture /recruiting pitch for him to offer if during the weekend.

Kenneth Hillman 1 year, 3 months ago

Bledsoe - if you're reading this, become a Jayhawk for life! What a great story this could turn out to be and a huge point in your life that you can look fondly and proudly back on. Hometown hero sound good to you? If the League is your goal, your talent and work ethic will take you there, no matter where you play your college ball (Thibodeaux knows what he's doing). Want to do more than that, KU is your spot!

Kris Weidling 1 year, 2 months ago

Matt: what criteria are you using to say he would be top KU all time recruit? Not disputing, but quite a statement!

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