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Talent in Kansas? Big 12 football programs found plenty

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With national signing day now in the rearview mirror, ESPN.com Big 12 blogger Jake Trotter recently scoured the conference's recruiting classes and found that 115 of the 229 players who signed with Big 12 schools this February were from Texas.

Big surprise, right? Of course not. But the state that ranked third on the list just might be.

Kansas, that's right the Sunflower State you all know and love, ranked third in the 2015 class with 13 athletes signing national letters of intent with Big 12 schools this season.

The Jayhawks, who finished with 24 players in their 2015 class, picked up two of those, with three-star Bishop Miege quarterback Ryan Willis and three-star Butler C.C. offensive lineman Will Smith inking with Kansas. Not surprisingly, Kansas State picked up the lion's share of that group, with six of the 20 signed players in K-State's 2015 class coming from Kansas.

All six of those — along with three others who Rivals.com lists as committed but not yet signed — are Kansas high school prospects, including Lawrence's own Scott Frantz, a Free State High offensive lineman, who had offers from Iowa State, Kansas, Miami (Florida), Minnesota, Missouri and Purdue among others.

Outside of those two Big 12 schools, Oklahoma State (3) and Iowa State (2) also plucked a few players out of the Sunflower State, with all five of their signees coming from the Kansas juco scene.

Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Boise State, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee and roughly two dozen other schools also signed Kansas kids, most of those from the juco ranks. The combination of the prominent place in the Big 12 standings along with the attention given to Kansas prospects from conferences around the country only adds clarity to the reason first-year KU coach David Beaty and his staff are striving to make in-state recruits a big-time priority for the future of Kansas football.

"We want to do a good job of keeping the best players in the state of Kansas right here at home at their university. That is top priority for us, and we do that by building relationships not only with them but with their coaches and their parents and the families and the fans. We want to develop a walk-on program because we only get so many scholarships a year, and there's a lot of guys out there in the state of Kansas that want to be a part of their great program, and that walk-on program can be powerful. We want it to be the most powerful walk-on program in the country, and that's a goal of ours. We want to open the doors to more than just 25 a year of the great athletes that there are here in the great state of Kansas. We truly want this to become a Kansas identity football team. We're going to hit the state of Texas, we're going to hit the state of Oklahoma, we're going to hit the state of Missouri, but make no mistake, it'll be a Kansas identity football team." — DAVID BEATY, Dec. 8, 2014

Here's a look at Trotter's per-state break down of recruiting in the Big 12 in 2015:

  1. Texas — 115
  2. Florida – 19
  3. Kansas – 13
  4. Georgia – 11
  5. Louisiana – 11
  6. Oklahoma – 10
  7. California – 8
  8. Mississippi – 6
  9. Maryland – 5
  10. Ohio – 4
  11. Illinois – 3
  12. Iowa – 3
  13. Missouri – 2
  14. New Jersey – 2
  15. Virginia – 2
  16. West Virginia – 2

Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Canada all had one each.

For a complete look at some more interesting recruiting trends in the Big 12 this year, including how the conference's football programs are expanding their recruiting into new territory, check out Trotter's blog.

Comments

Jonathan Briles 6 years, 9 months ago

I love that Beaty is putting a focus on Kansas. Even if its just getting some walk on type guys. Getting guys who want to be here and dream of getting into the game only push the other guys that much harder. Kansas has project type players and with work some of those guys can pay off big time for us.

Also I think equally surprising as Kansas being third on the list is Missouri being 13th with only two players from MO going to the big 12. MO is right in the middle of Big 12 country and also has some nice talent so that kind of shocked me to see them so low on the list.

Matt Tait 6 years, 9 months ago

Yeah. That whole Missouri thing has to be a product of the Tigers heading to the SEC. Still, it's pretty wild that it has fallen that far off the Big 12 recruiting radar that fast.

Bville Hawk 6 years, 9 months ago

I'm wondering how many of the players from Kansas jucos referenced above actually played football at a Kansas high school?

With that being said, though, most of the good KU teams in the past had Kansas high school football alums who were significant contributors. I'm thinking of Bobby Douglas, John Riggins, Laverne Smith, Nolan Cromwell, David Jaynes, etc, et al.

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 9 months ago

I would be more interested in how many Kansas high school kids signed FBS or Big 12 LOI's. Texas, Kansas, and California are the top 3 JuCo football states so that skews the numbers.

For those that say the KU coaches should put more focus 9 Kansas recruiting than Texas recruiting, this is why Texas is so important to the future success of Kansas football. 13 Big 12 caliber players will not support a program including only 5 HS players even of KU earned house. The walk on program is important to build the depth of the program, but the future success is with the Texas athletes.

Michael Lorraine 6 years, 9 months ago

Here's how I read it. 1. Texas 2. Texas 3. Texas 4. Texas 5. Texas 6. Florida 7. Kansas I like having Kansas kids on the staff but seems kind of obvious that Texas will bear more fruit. Beaty has ties in Texas. Seems to me he should exploit those ties. Saying Kansas is his top priority sounds like he's trying to please the natives.

Sam Walters 6 years, 9 months ago

My personal opinion, the new head coach doesn't recruit the state hard enough. Look at the in-state recruits KSU signed. KU offered scholarships to half of them. There is a clear emphasis being put on Texas by this new regime and that is all fine and dandy if you want to steal recruits away from Rice, SMU, Houston, and UTEP, but just realize you're never going to win the recruits away from A&M, Texas, and OU until you start consistently winning. And you won't start consistently winning until you start consistently winning the recruits in your own state. Look no further than KSU's dominance over us in the Snyder years. KSU always cleans house in-state and they're not even competing with KU for a lot of the guys because KU isn't even showing a passing interest in them. The only success we've had over KSU in the last two decades in a half is when Mangino was winning in-state recruiting battles because he was competing against Prince and not Snyder. I think Keegan wrote an article recently about how the Orange Bowl roster was largely made up of kids from KS, MO, and OK. Food for thought, coach.

Lance Meier 6 years, 9 months ago

I think the new staff is doing ALL the right things. The recruiting of Kansas Kids is the best thing they can do, U go out and recruit kids from other states, the first thing I'd ask if I was that kid or his parents. Who else is being recruited? Why should my son go to KU when U'r not even getting the best players out of your own state? This article shows there R good players in the state of Kansas... I also wondered how many of the JC players actually played HS ball in the state. I have enjoyed the excitement about the football program in the off-season, then again there is "NO" off-season, anymore... Keep the excitement going, RCJH!!!

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