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Mid-year signing day opens with a flurry for KU football

Defensive Back L.B. Bates, of Trinity Valley C.C., signed his official letter of intent with Kansas football early this morning.

Defensive Back L.B. Bates, of Trinity Valley C.C., signed his official letter of intent with Kansas football early this morning. by Matt Tait

12:31 p.m. Update

It looks like everything worked out with Blinn College offensive lineman Jayson Rhodes' transcripts because KU is now announcing him as a member of today's mid-year transfer haul.

Rhodes, who got in with KU late after offensive lineman Delonte' Murray changed his mind and signed with Cincinnati, is a 6-foot-4, 310-pound guard who had offers from Grambling State, Hampton, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Southern Miss and UT-San Antonio.

He'll arrive at KU in time for spring football and will have three years of eligibility remaining, which makes him a guy the KU coaching staff can bring along slowly if need be. That's not to say he'll need it, just that they'll have that flexibility.

The addition of Rhodes brings KU's total haul for the day to seven — 3 offensive linemen, 2 defensive backs, 1 defensive lineman and 1 running back.

Here's a quick look at Rhodes' film and bio.

RHODES BIO: Played one season at Blinn College under head coach Keith Thomas... Helped lead the Buccaneers to a 4-4 mark in 2014... Earned second team all-conference honors in 2014... Started the season on the defensive side of the ball, before moving to the offensive line... Sat out the 2013 season as a redshirt.

Original Post: 9:49 a.m.

It's not quite the spectacle that national signing day in February brings, but it's important nonetheless. And it's already well under way for the Kansas University football program.

Mid-year transfer signing day offers those junior-college players who were able to graduate in December the chance to sign their national letters of intent early so they can report to their new schools in time for the spring semester, which begins in late January, and, more importantly, the start of spring practices.

Here's a quick list of the new Jayhawks who made it official this morning, starting with Kilgore College cornerback M.J. Mathis, who signed his letter at 8 a.m. in his hometown of Crosby, Texas, with a few close friends and family members present.

New KU cornerback Michael Mathis, from Kilgore College, was one of five players to make their commitments official this morning on mid-year transfer signing day.

New KU cornerback Michael Mathis, from Kilgore College, was one of five players to make their commitments official this morning on mid-year transfer signing day. by Matt Tait

Mathis, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound corner with a good mix of physical presence and legit speed, said signing his letter was an amazing feeling because it put an official end to a couple of stressful months that came with waiting for KU to change coaches and signing day to arrive.

Here's a quick look at some Mathis highlights:

Other new Jayhawks who signed this morning include:

• Will Smith, a 6-foot-4, 315-pound, three-star offensive lineman from Butler Community College, who committed to KU in early June after an official visit.

SMITH BIO: Played two seasons on the offensive line for the nationally-ranked Grizzlies... Coached by Troy Morrell at BCC... Earned a three-star rating from Rivals.com and 247Sports.com... Saw action in 11 games for the Grizzlies, helping them earn an 8-3 overall record in 2014... Picked up all-conference and all-region honors in 2014... Helped lead the Grizzlies to the 2013 conference and region titles.

• Jacky Dezir, a 6-3, 305-pound, two-star defensive lineman from College of DuPage, who also committed to KU in early June after an official visit.

DEZIR BIO: Spent two seasons at the College of DuPage playing for head coach Matt Foster... Sat out the 2014 season as a redshirt... Played in 10 games for the Chaparrals, helping them earn a 7-4 record in 2013… Recorded two sacks in the 2013 Carrier Dome Bowl against ASA College… Recorded 24 total tackles during the 2013 season, including 13 solo tackles... Also credited with 3.0 TFLs.

• Bazie "L.B." Bates IV, a 6-1, 195-pound, three-star defensive back from Trinity Valley C.C., who committed to KU in late June. Name is pronounced Baz-ee.

BATES BIO: Spent two seasons at Trinity Valley Community College suiting up for head coach Brad Smiley… A three-star prospect according to Rivals.com, 247Sports.com and Scout.com... Played as a cornerback on the 2014 team that was a perfect 12-0 in 2014… Helped lead the Cardinals to the SWJCFC championship, the Region XIV championship and the Heart of Texas Bowl title in 2014... Recorded 26 total tackles, including 16 solo stops, as a sophomore in 2014... Led TVCC with four interceptions... Also had four pass breakups... Spent the 2013 season as a redshirt... Collected 11 tackles and one pass breakup for TVCC as a freshman in 2012.

• D'Andre Banks, a 6-3, 325-pound, three-star offensive lineman also from Trinity Valley, C.C., who committed to Kansas after an official visit last weekend. Banks had been committed to Louisiana-Lafayette, but switched to Kansas after his visit.

BANKS BIO: Played two seasons at Trinity Valley Community College for head coach Brad Smiley… A three-star prospect according to Rivals.com... Saw action as an offensive guard on the 2014 team that went undefeated (12-0) in 2014… Helped lead the Cardinals to the SWJCFC championship, the Region XIV championship and the Heart of Texas Bowl title in both 2013 and 2014...Spent the 2012 season as a redshirt.

"Coach (David) Beaty is a great guy and has a plan for the program,” Banks said shortly after committing. “I want to be a part of it. The facilities are excellent and it feels like a tight-knit community."

• Ke'aun Kinner, a 5-10, 185-pound, three-star running back from Navarro Junior College, who committed to KU earlier this week and was named a first-team Juco All-American on Tuesday.

KINNER BIO: Suited up for two seasons at Navarro Junior College under head coach J.J. Eckert... Earned a three-star ranking from Rivals.com, 247Sports.com and Scout.com... Finished his two-year career at NJC ranked third all-time in rushing yardage (1,918 yards) and ninth all-time in carries (277)… Ranked second in single-season carries and topped the single-season per game rushing average list in NJC history… Rushed for 1,696 yards and 22 touchdowns on 253 carries in 2014… Also caught 17 passes for 109 yards through the air... Earned First Team National Junior College Athletic Assocation (NJCAA) All-American honors in 2014... In his two-year career at Navarro he recorded 26 rushing touchdowns… Named the Southwest Junior College Football Conference's Most Valuable Player in 2014.

Reply 10 comments from Dirk Medema Jaylark Onlyoneuinkansas Kingfisher Chris Spangenburg Table_rock_jayhawk Jonathan Briles Houtexhawk

News and notes from a few former Jayhawks in the NFL

Former Kansas University cornerback Aqib Talib continues to prove he's one of the top cover corners in the NFL during his first season with the Denver Broncos.

Talib, who has battled injuries throughout this season and his career, has started 13 games for the Broncos this season — opposite his former KU running mate Chris Harris — and is tied for the team lead with three interceptions after snagging a key pick against Phillip Rivers and the Chargers last weekend in a victory which clinched the Broncos' fourth AFC West title in a row.

Talib was at his best against San Diego and was constantly highlighted for his impeccable technique and great instincts. He has 55 tackles this season — 48 of the solo variety — and already has as many passes defended this season (14) as he did all of last season with the Patriots.

Talib's lockdown ability has been one of the biggest reasons the Broncos' defense has improved by leaps and bounds over last year's group, and, as long as he's healthy, Talib continues to show why he's regarded as one of the league's best cornerbacks and, even more to the point, why he makes so much money.

Harris cashes in
Former KU cornerback Chris Harris, now in his fourth year with the Denver Broncos, agreed to a five-year contract extension worth more than $42 million.

Harris, regarded by many as one of the top all-around cornerbacks in the league, is enjoying his best season as a pro on the heels of offseason ACL surgery.

He joined Denver as an undrafted free agent in 2011 for a $2,000 signing bonus. Harris already has tied his career high with three interceptions this season and has 48 tackles, 46 of them of the solo variety.

McDougald's monster day
Former Kansas wide-receiver-turned-safety Bradley McDougald played the best game of his young NFL career on Sunday, finishing with 15 tackles — 11 solo — in Tampa Bay's 19-17 loss to Carolina.

McDougald, another undrafted free agent who is in his second year with the Bucaneers, has started three of the 13 games he has played in this year and has 37 tackles and three passes defended.

Johnson fitting in fine
Injuries have depleted the Denver Broncos' linebacking corps and that has opened the door for former Jayhawk Steven Johnson — yet another undrafted free agent — to slide into the starting lineup.

Johnson, now in his third season in the NFL, has played in 12 games for the Broncos this season and started the past five.

He finished Sunday's victory over San Diego tied for third on the team with four tackles — all solo — and now has 27 tackles on the season to go along with a half sack and a fumble recovery.

Stuckey scores
Former KU safety Darrell Stuckey was pretty quiet during the Chargers' loss to Denver last Sunday, but one week earlier, the Kansas City, Kansas, native scored the first touchdown of his NFL career on a fumble recovery and return during the Chargers' loss to New England.

Still known for his contributions on special teams, Stuckey has appeared in 14 games this season (his fifth in the NFL) and has 27 tackles and two passes defended to go along with the TD.

Opurum picked up
After spending the past couple of seasons as a part of the Houston Texans' practice squad (he was even active for a game or two) former KU running back/defensive end Toben Opurum has been picked up by the New Orleans Saints and signed to their practice squad.

Reply 4 comments from Koolkeithfreeze Michael Lorraine Allison Steen Michael Maris

Busy week for Beaty produces lengthy list of visitors for big recruiting weekend

Kansas University football recruiting.

Kansas University football recruiting.

Newly hired Kansas University football coach David Beaty has not spent his first week on the job rearranging the office furniture or hanging up his favorite photos by his desk. There will be time for that later.

The past week has been spent tracking talent, visiting coaches and lining up an impressive list of visitors for this weekend, the final big recruiting weekend before the next dead period. With 12 players in the Class of 2015 already committed, KU has room for about 12 more. Many of the visitors who will be in town this weekend are high school prospects, which is in line with what Beaty said would be the foundation upon which the KU program was built during his time in town.

Two of this weekend's visitors — WR Kevin Thomas and QB Ryan Willis — already have committed to Kansas, so, even if KU were to land all of the guys it brings in this weekend, it would leave the new coaching staff room to add at least a couple more players.

This weekend's visit list is heavy on offensive linemen and wide receivers — two areas of great need for the Jayhawks — but it's not just the names of the players or their place in the rankings that is impressive about this group. The more impressive part is that Beaty was able, in such short time, to get so many guys to committ to campus visits so quickly. The state of Kansas is also well represented, with three of the 11 guys coming from Kansas high schools, an area Beaty said would be a top priority moving forward.

Jon Kirby of JayhawkSlant.com reported earlier this week that several Texas high school coaches had reached out to Beaty about some of their players who may have been a little overlooked thus far in the recruiting process, and it's that kind of pedigree that had many on the search committee excited about the idea of hiring Beaty in the first place. The fact that it has started to pay off in his first week on the job is merely a bonus.

Of course, just getting them here is only half of the battle. Beaty and company still have to get these guys to commit and, even if they do, the players themselves still have to show up and pan out. There's time for that, though.

Here's a quick look at the guys coming in for a visit this weekend, according to Rivals.com's visit tracker:

• Kyle Ball, 6-2, 231 D-End, Shawnee Mission East
The two-start prospect picked up an offer from KU during Clint Bowen's interim term and helped lead the Lancers to a state title in the process. Big, physical and athletic all over the field, Ball has offers from Air Force and South Dakota State and also recently made an unofficial visit to Kansas State.

• D'Andre Banks — 6-3, 325, OL, Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College
Three-star offensive guard currently has offers from Louisiana-Lafayette, Utah State and Kansas. Also received early interest from Florida State and Illinois.

• Colton Beebe – 6-2, 252, LB, Piper High
Another local kid, Beebe has been closed in the sub-4.8 range in the 40-yard dash and also bench presses 315 pounds and owns a 4.13 grade-point average. The two-star prospect has offers from Air Force, Minnesota and Kansas. He's been looking forward to visiting KU since receiving an offer in September and said throughout the season that he was impressed by what Clint Bowen had done with the team.

• Xavier Castille – 5-11, 195, WR, Rockwall (Texas) High
Two-star receiver with a good build and excellent speed has all kinds of offers from mid-major type programs including Uconn, Illinois State, Memphis, Nevada, Texas State, Tulsa and UTEP along with KU and Washington. Under-the-radar wideout is known for good hands and crisp routes.

• Arico Evans – 6-2, 190, Athlete, Hillcrest High, Dallas
Two-star prospect has offers from KU, Indiana, New Mexico, New Mexico State, TCU, Texas Tech and Troy. This week's contact was the first Evans had received from Kansas, but he said he was very interested because of his high school coach's close bond with Beaty.

• Brandon Martin – 6-3, 185, WR, Prime Prep Academy, Dallas
Another prospect from the Deion Sanders school, this three-star receiver is ranked as the 98th best wideout in the nation and the 100th best player in Texas. He has received offers from Louisiana Tech, Louisville, Temple, Arkansas State and KU and has been named to the Under-Armour All-American roster.

• Emmanuel Moore – 6-0, 190, WR, Northwest High, Justin, Texas
Two-star receiver committed to North Texas back in September, but is visiting KU this weekend, according to Rivals.com. KU and UNT are his only offers as of now but he also has received interest from Minnesota and SMU.

• Tyler Moore – 6-4, 300, OL, North Shore High, Galena Park, Texas
Three-star center has multiple offers from some big time programs including BYU, Minnesota, Texas, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana Tech and Oregon State. Moore plans to graduate in December and would be free to report to his new school in time for spring practices.

• Jace Sternberger – 6-4, 225, D-End, Kingfisher (Oklahoma) High
Two-star prospect has offers from KU, New Mexico, Sam Houston State and South Dakota and also received interest from Kansas State, Memphis, Oklahoma State and Tulsa. Known as a good all-around athlete. Also plays tight end.

• Kevin Thomas – 6-2, 180, WR, DeSoto (Texas) High
Three-star wide receiver committed to KU in July after receiving a dozen offers from schools including Clemson, Nebraska, Wake Forest and Wisconsin. Big, physical wideout remained committed throughout the coaching change and is regarded by some as one of KU's top targets in the current class.

• Ryan Willis – 6-4, 201, QB, Bishop Miege
Three-star pro-style QB committed to Kansas in May and stayed strong throughout another rough season and a change in leadership. After throwing for 3,000 yards and 30 TDs as a junior, Willis followed that up with another 3,000-yard season and 35 TDs in leading the Stags to a state title this season. He completed 64 percent of his passes. Willis met with Beaty earlier this week and came away impressed by the new coach's energy and passion for KU.

Reply 23 comments from Randy Bombardier Kingfisher Randy Maxwell Michael Lorraine Oklahomajayhawk RXDOC Texashawk10_2 Jim Stauffer Dirk Medema Jonathan Briles and 5 others

2015 Jayhawks have some talent but may lack depth

New KU football coach David Beaty on Monday made it clear that he understood the challenges he was stepping into by taking the job to lead the Jayhawks in 2015 and beyond.

Although the list is long and includes everything from production on the field to mending fences off of it, it seems one of the best places to get a clear look at Beaty's biggest challenge is by scanning the potential depth chart heading into the 2015 season.

Gone are 21 seniors, many of whom played key roles — especially on defense — on this year's team and during the past few seasons, as well. In some areas, there are obvious options to replace them. In others, the question of "Who's next?" is a little tougher to answer.

Several weeks ago, Tom Keegan looked at KU's Top 10 returning players but did so from a 1-through-10 perspective. All of those guys will be on the list you're about to read, as well, but instead of a Top 10, I'll give you a Top 22, as in an incredibly early look at a starting 11 on both sides of the ball for the 2015 season.

There's no doubt this will change between now and September. Heck, it'll probably change between now and February and again by the start of spring practice sometime in March. But it never hurts to look ahead and, in doing so, I think you'll see that Beaty is inheriting a team with some significant returning talent but an alarming lack of depth.

Most of this is based on the guys who have experience, which, for now, is as important a factor as anything. We'll get into the guys who could knock them off — think defensive lineman D.J. Williams, incoming cornerback Michael Mathis and a couple of other guys like that — in future blogs.

Also for the sake of this blog, we'll assume the Jayhawks are going to go with the same base defense they used this year.

Here we go...

Kansas receiver Nigel King is forced out of bounds after a catch against Iowa State defensive back Sam Richardson during the second quarter on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014.

Kansas receiver Nigel King is forced out of bounds after a catch against Iowa State defensive back Sam Richardson during the second quarter on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. by Nick Krug

OFFENSE:

QB – Michael Cummings – Freshman-to-be Ryan Willis will be an intriguing option here, but Cummings earned the right to be the man to beat with his play this season.

RB – Corey Avery – De'Andre Mann is also back and both should be better than they were this season.

LT – Larry Mazyck – With another offseason to work on his skills and his body, the big man could be a nice option here.

LG – Joe Gibson – Filled in well at Center this season, but should be able to transition to guard with no problem.

C – Jacob Bragg – He doesn't have any experience, but guys kept mentioning his name.

RG – Junior Visinia – Picked up some incredibly valuable experience down the stretch and should only get better.

RT – Jordan Shelley-Smith – I really think this guy is going to be solid for a couple of years.

TE – Ben Johnson – Filled in nicely for Mundine from time to time and brings similar athleticism and good hands.

WR – Nigel King – The unquestioned No. 1 option on this team. His chemistry with Cummings should be a big advantage.

WR – Tre' Parmalee – It's possible one of the young guys beats Parmalee out, but he's a solid route runner and a reliable option who's been out there plenty.

WR – Kent Taylor – I always heard the transfer from Florida was best out wide and I don't think it's a stretch for him to transition to WR with Johnson holding down the TE spot.

DEFENSE:

BUCK – Ben Goodman – The move to the interior was not one that should stick. Time to put him back at his natural position.

NT – Andrew Bolton – After a slow start, he had some very good moments during the second half of the season.

DT – T.J. Semke – This is a prime spot where you could see an upgrade, but I guarantee you Semke's not going to give up the job easily.

SE – Kapil Fletcher - Damani Mosby and Anthony Olobia also could factor in here, but Fletcher was the only one of the trio who actually played in 2014.

WLB – Courtney Arnick – He quietly had a solid season and fits the mold of the modern-day Big 12 linebacker.

MLB – Jake Love – Filled in for Heeney whenever he needed to and, at times, was just as effective. Don't forget about Kyron Watson or Joe Dineen in these spots.

CB – Matthew Boateng – Thrown to the wolves as a true freshman, Boateng showed some good things early and should be ready for a bigger role.

CB – Michael Mathis – Ronnie Davis, Colin Spencer and a couple other guys could be options here, as well, but I've heard nothing but good things about Mathis and his spring semester arrival should make him ready to go by September.

FS – Isaiah Johnson – Back for a third season, he will be counted on to be more like the 2013 Johnson than the 2014 Johnson.

SS – Fish Smithson – Solid, physical player should step right in for Cassius Sendish.

NB – Tevin Shaw – Shared time here with Greg Allen (a possible candidate to move to cornerback) and showed good toughness and improved coverage skills.

Kansas linebacker Courtney Arnick dives to wrap up Texas Tech receiver Reginald Davis during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. At right is Kansas safety Isaiah Johnson.

Kansas linebacker Courtney Arnick dives to wrap up Texas Tech receiver Reginald Davis during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. At right is Kansas safety Isaiah Johnson. by Nick Krug

Reply 15 comments from Matt Tait Bville Hawk Doug Roberts Ryan McAtee Jim Stauffer Raprichard Rockchalk1990 Stupidmichael Kingfisher Robert  Brock and 2 others

Introducing new KU football coach David “What you see is what you get” Beaty

Kansas University's new head football coach, David Beaty, speaks at an introductory press conference Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, at the Anderson Family Football Complex. Beaty, the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Texas A&M, was hired by KU Friday.

Kansas University's new head football coach, David Beaty, speaks at an introductory press conference Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, at the Anderson Family Football Complex. Beaty, the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Texas A&M, was hired by KU Friday.

It can be tough to condense 45 minutes of emotion, one-liners, laughs and handshakes into a few words, but newly named KU football coach David Beaty made it easy.

Before we go on, let me remind you that there is no way of knowing how Beaty's time at Kansas will turn out. Will he be the guy who turns the program around? Perhaps. Does he have the skills to make the leap from college assist to head coach? We'll soon find out. Can he attract the right people — both coaches and players — to bring change to a program in desperate need of a new direction? We will not know the answer to that until we see what happens on Saturdays next fall.

But what we do know — and this we learned in a mere four days since hearing that Beaty would be KU's next coach — is that the new KU coach is an honest man who prefers hard work above all else and would rather show you and prove to you that things are different than stand up in front of you and talk about it.

That much was obvious from his introductory news conference Monday morning, as Beaty talked about all of the things that led him to this point — both in football and in life — and emphasized all of the places he wants this program to go in the future.

He made no promises about results or wins or statistics or milestones. Instead, he focused only on the things he could control — work ethic, operating the right way, recruiting quality athletes, bringing in hungry coaches.

It was enough to impress just about anyone at any school, but, so often, that's what these press conferences are about. We've seen it plenty of times before around here, but rarely with the sincerity behind what Beaty showed on Monday.

What you saw on Monday morning was the real David Beaty, warts and all. He said Texas a couple of times when he meant to say Kansas. (And later cringed over it when his wife, Raynee, pointed it out). He offered his “condolences” to the search committee for having selected him — something that could have been taken as an intentional, dead-panned joke or an accidental slip — and he repeated words a few times throughout his news conference. In short, he delivered a genuine look at who he is and how he operates. And, at least from where I sat, I found the mishaps and hiccups refreshing.

You've heard the phrase “winning the press conference” uttered time and time again. And, although there is some skill involved in doing that, it really isn't that tough to do. Prepare a well-thought-out speech. Deliver it with confidence. Appeal to all of the aspects of your new school that get the fans fired up. Repeat as needed.

Winning what comes after the press conference — quarters, halves, games and championships — is what Beaty seems more interested in, and yet he made no promises in that area either.

Instead, he said he would do everything in his power to send next year's senior class out with a special season. He did not say anything about a bowl victory. He did not talk about winning the Big 12. He only said he would commit all he had to that group of seniors and inspire the rest of the team to follow his lead. Whatever that brings, it brings.

That's the best part about KU's new head football coach. He does not appear to be a guy who is interested in trying to be somebody or something he's not. After the press conference, I asked Beaty to recall the toughest question thrown his way during the interview process. His answer only emphasized the kind of guy we're dealing with and the kind of person he seems to be.

“One of the toughest questions for me, because I don't look at it this way and this is where I have a hard time; my vision is so focused on the positive that I just don't look at negatives. I won't allow myself. The hardest question was, 'What do you see as the challenges?' And, the thing is, every day, for some people, is a challenge. And then for others, and this is gonna sound cliché, but, for others, every day is an opportunity. And that's how it is for me. I do a front hand-spring out of bed every day.”

“Some of those things sound crazy,” he continued. “But they roll off my tongue because that's who we are.”

Whether Beaty wins or winds up being the right guy for Kansas is up for debate and will not be determined for some time. But he's got the right mindset to get the job done. And, for the first time in half a dozen years, it matches the mindset that led KU to the 2008 Orange Bowl.

With that established, it's now time to see what he can do.

Reply 12 comments from Bill  French Micky Baker Ashwin Rao Dirk Medema Matt Tait Table_rock_jayhawk Steve Corder Kingfisher Nebraskanjayhawk8 Michael Lorraine and 1 others

Coaching Search 2014: David Beaty an attractive hire in many ways

Kansas University receivers coach David Beaty, right, congratulates Todd Reesing on a play in this file photo from last season. Beaty has established himself as one of the top recruiters in the Big 12 Conference.

Kansas University receivers coach David Beaty, right, congratulates Todd Reesing on a play in this file photo from last season. Beaty has established himself as one of the top recruiters in the Big 12 Conference.

When I woke up this morning, I figured it would be just another normal day on the Kansas University coaching search trail. The hire seemed to be at least a few days away and my objective was to call some more sources and find out what people were hearing and/or talking about.

I should've known my day would be a little different when I woke up to a carton of ice cream in the sink and a note from my wife that said, “You put the ice cream back in the fridge last night.”

Such is life on the coaching search trail.

As I mentioned on Tuesday in my daily coaching search blog, Texas A&M assistant coach David Beaty was the name I produced most often when asked back in September and October who I thought would be the next head coach of the KU football program.

The reasons are plenty and have been well documented both on this site and throughout the Internet. Beaty has a great reputation as a top-notch recruiter and his ties to the Texas high school scene are as impressive as just about anyone's.

That should help him not only upgrade the talent at Kansas but also could aid him as he tries to put together a coaching staff up to the challenge of turning KU around.

As we moved through the process and learned about the criteria that would determine which candidates had a real shot and which didn't, it seemed like Beaty was an obvious name to keep at or near the top of the list.

He's been at Kansas in both good and bad times, so he knows the lay of the land and, like former KU interim coach Clint Bowen, has seen what works and what does not. I think that's huge and will allow Beaty to move forward quickly without having to waste much time getting that figured out. It's a process than can take as much as a year or two for most coaches and, although there will still be things Beaty sees for the first time — especially considering this is his first time holding down such a big-time position — his ability to lean on past experiences should help make any growing pains very minimal.

Beaty's was a name that checked several of the right boxes long before the end of the season arrived and the search ever officially began. There's no doubt that Beaty was on the KU radar from the moment Charlie Weis was fired and he most likely never left his perch of strong contender.

Several people I spoke with today said Beaty was very impressive during his phone interview this week. He must have been for the in-person interviews to go up in smoke, and I would think that's a good sign for the strength of this hire. Rather than merely impressing one guy, Beaty impressed an entire committee. One source told me there was not a single person on the committee who doubted Beaty after hearing his plan for how to lead the KU football program.

As I outlined this morning, that plan likely included detailed plans about his coaching staff, recruiting — both in Texas and Kansas — general offensive and defensive philosophies and ways to close the gap between KU and the rest of the Big 12 Conference.

It's a tall task for anyone to undertake and, for no other reason than that, you have to tip your cap to Beaty, 44, for being willing to take it. Sure, it's a promotion. Sure, it's a raise. But it was both of those things for Turner Gill, Charlie Weis and Terry Allen and things did not wind up working out too well for those three.

Overall, though, I like the hire. I think Beaty has a chance to put together a great staff and I think his energy, age and enthusiasm will be big assets for KU in this latest rebuilding project. If what I'm hearing about Beaty's salary range is accurate — base around $800,000 with incentives added on to that — I like the hire even more because it will (a) leave KU with more money to help him hire a killer staff and (b) keep him hungry.

Who cares what other schools pay or what other coaches make? This isn't a popularity contest. A lot of places it is. But Kansas cannot afford to have that mentality. It needs guys who can coach football and recruit talent and it should pay them what they're worth not what they want the job to be.

David Beaty is a well-respected guy — even if he's not a big name — and I don't think he'll have any trouble gaining the respect of the players, the KU athletic department and, ultimately, the fan base. The reason? He's a likable dude and it will not take people long to see that.

Reply 39 comments from Logan Johnson Kellerman411 Randy Bombardier Michael Lorraine Stephen Johnson Kingfisher Texashawk10_2 Ryan McAtee Kyle Sybesma Mat Davis and 14 others

Coaching Search 2014: David Beaty emerges as leading candidate; hire could come soon

10:48 a.m. Update:

It looks like the timeline for the the KU coaching hire has moved up drastically and, according to multiple sources, an announcement could come as soon as this afternoon.

It looks as if Texas A&M recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach David Beaty has emerged as the clear leader for the job and may be named the 38th coach in KU history as soon as this afternoon.

According to a source, the KU assistant coaches were asked to leave the football complex today because someone of some importance was coming through later. According to online flight tracking, there is a plane en route to Lawrence from College Station, Texas.

Beaty was believed to be a strong candidate throughout the process, with his recruiting ties in Texas and past experience at KU giving him two important qualities for the job based on what KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger outlined as key factors before the search fully began.

Beaty, 43, worked on the staff of Mark Mangino at Kansas from 2008-09 and for one year under Turner Gill in 2011.

According to USA Today, he made $359,500 at A&M in 2013. He is expected to make at least twice as much as that plus incentives at KU.

Stay tuned for more updates as this story develops.

Original post, 9:39 a.m.:

It's Friday, and we've now had a full week of coaching search speculation and banter while Kansas University athletic director Sheahon Zenger has had a full week to conduct phone interviews and narrow down his list of candidates to replace Charlie Weis.

From what I've been able to gather, it sounds like this thing is close to wrapping up but that does not necessarily mean there's a clear No. 1 or No. 2 choice, just that they've done a fair amount of narrowing down candidates and are in position to conduct final interviews and use those to make their decision.

I think it's safe to say that between 7-12 coaches (perhaps one or two more) went through phone interviews with Zenger and members of the search committee this week — a couple are probably still doing that today — and I'm guessing that four or five of those will get an in-person interview, which could begin as soon as Sunday night but most likely will take place Monday and Tuesday.

There appears to be the sense that this thing could wrap up even before next Friday, but that, of course, depends upon how the in-person interviews go and assumes that no other new candidates join the party. It's hard to know whether that will happen, but it certainly could. As I was told from the beginning, the search committee would not be opposed to 11th-hour interest, provided it came from the right candidate.

It seems Clint Bowen, David Beaty, Tim Beck and Ed Warinner will get interviews. That has been reflected in the percentage wheel throughout this process. I still think there could be another serious contender or two involved here, but I've had a hard time pinpointing who that might be. If that's the case, it's most likely a sitting head coach, but my money would be on it being a name we might not have heard much, if at all, during the past week. In short, I don't think it's Willie Fritz, Bo Pelini, Jerry Kill or any of those other names you've all heard throughout this process.

I'm still working the phones to try to see if any of my sources have heard any other names pop up, so stay tuned throughout the day for updates, if available.

While we wait, let's look at a few of the factors that I think will be crucial during the interview process and probably already were during the round of phone interviews. Generally speaking, the second interview becomes an extended version of what already took place over the phone. I heard the phone interviews were around an hour, but you can bet the in-person interviews will be three times that long, if not longer.

• One thing I think the committee will really want to hear is who each candidate believes it can bring in as part of its coaching staff. This, obviously, is not a guarantee, but it's pretty common for guys who have head coaching aspirations to have an idea of who they'd like to have on their staff and many of them have even had conversations with these guys in the past. Something like, 'Hey, if I were to get this job or that job would you come with me as my OC?' They don't have to have signed contracts at the ready during the interviews, but I think one of the advantages of having a committee here is that you get several different opinions and reads on how confident a candidate is in the staff he could put together based on how he tells you who it might be.

• Another huge aspect is each coach's recruiting plan. This goes beyond just saying, “We'd hit Texas pretty hard” and stuff like that, and includes information on the types of kids and players they'd go after along with the crucial territories and any plans for how to make recruiting Kansas a priority and how to handle walk-ons.

• The committee also is going to want to hear about general football philosophies. For example, if a guy comes in and talks about running a pro style offense, he probably won't be seen in the most favorable light. But this step goes beyond just talking about offensive and defensive schemes. The committee also will want to hear how each candidate plans and expects to compete as a heavy underdog in a tough conference and how they would plan to narrow the gap between KU and the rest of the Big 12.

• Another important element of the interview could be to provide a detailed plan for how practices would be run. Again, the candidates probably won't have to go as far as drawing up a complete daily practice schedule — though that probably wouldn't hurt and a couple of guys probably will — but the committee surely will want to hear how practices will be run, what the tone of practices will be like and those on the committee familiar with how things ran under Turner Gill and Weis surely will compare what they hear in interviews to what they saw during the past four or five seasons. Clearly, what's been done in the recent past hasn't worked.

Don't get me wrong, I think the interviews will be very important because they'll allow the committee to get a real, live feel for the confidence, comfort-level and charisma of each candidate. But I don't think this is a deal where a guy can win the job simply by hitting a home run in the interview.

If this committee has done its job, which it seems is the case, then its members have talked to all kinds of people about each one of the candidates and done extensive background checks on each of them, involving everything from football to family to philosophy.

I think that may be why this search has gone at the pace that it has. After back-to-back swings and misses with the past two head coaches, they cannot take anything for granted this time around. And that has way more to do with the overall good of the program and the university than it does just for Zenger and his future.

Having said all of that, my latest percentage wheel has not changed much at all from yesterday morning. I know people expect Warinner to move up on my list, but, even with him coming in for an interview, I'm leaving him where he's been all along for now based on what I've been hearing.

If there's an 11th-hour candidate, that will certainly change things, but, as of now, it seems like Bowen and Beaty are the front-runners and pretty close at the top. It could come down to the interviews and whether Beaty gets an offer. If he does, I think he takes it. If not, I think it's Bowen.

Here's a look:

1. Clint Bowen 34%
1. David Beaty 34%
3. Other 22%
4. Ed Warinner 5%
5. Tim Beck 5%

Stay logged on to KUsports.com throughout the day for any news or updates that may come our way…

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Coaching Search 2014: Another hypothetical example of the trickle-down effect

1:44 p.m. update:

There was a Tweet out there — isn't there always? — that said that the KU job had been offered to Ohio State assistant coach Ed Warinner.

I talked to plenty of sources today, both before and after the Tweet, who said no offer has been made and that KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger and the search committee were still in the process of trimming down their list and identifying the finalists.

Warinner may very well be in that group and there have been reports that said he was one of the guys who participated in the phone interview with members of the committee this week, but reports of an offer having been made to anybody are definitely premature.

I've been told from the very beginning that Warinner would likely get a chance to interview. That has not changed and he may well be one of the final few guys who gets a face-to-face interview with Zenger and company next week. Time will tell.

Stay tuned for the latest from the search, which is starting to catch some heat given how quickly Florida and Nebraska filled their openings. None of that should matter to KU, though, other than in the obvious way that the openings at Colorado State and Oregon State could impact what KU's doing.

Original post: 9:30 a.m.

It's a little early for an update but I was able to get on the phones a little quicker today and found out a few interesting tidbits that might impact the KU coaching search.

The first has to do with Texas A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, who, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle recently interviewed for the head coach opening at Tulsa, which is his hometown.

The news of Spavital's interview was first reported by KRIV-TV and confirmed by the Tulsa World.

According to a couple of people I've talked with, it sounds very likely that Spavital will get that Tulsa job, which, obviously, would leave open the OC job at A&M. That's where things get interesting for Kansas and for two very different reasons.

  1. If Spavital leaves, one could make a case for Beaty being the obvious choice to replace him as the Aggies OC and that could come with a significant raise and be enticing enough to make him pull his name from contention for the KU job.

  2. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if Spavital leaves and A&M coach Kevin Sumlin chooses to put someone other than Beaty into the OC job, it would open up some questions as to why Beaty was passed over a second time for that OC job. When talking about Beaty as an option for the KU job, many have said it would be hard enough to envision KU hiring someone who's not even a current coordinator, but wouldn't the hire be even more difficult to sell with a guy who keeps getting passed up?

It's things like this that make the whole timeline of this hire very critical. The more these other moves happen around KU, the more possible it is that they impact the KU job. That's not to say each instance has a direct effect on what KU is actually doing, but, in the coaching world — especially as far as the fans and media are involved — perception is almost as important as reality.

And it's things like this that leave me believing Clint Bowen still has a very good shot of getting this job.

Here's a look:

1. Clint Bowen – 38%
2. David Beaty – 30%
3. Other – 23%
4. Ed Warinner — 5%
5. Tim Beck — 4%

Stay logged on to KUsports.com for more updates throughout the day.

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Coaching Search 2014: Could elite openings elsewhere be a factor?

Kansas interim head football coach Clint Bowen looks out over the stadium as the rain comes down prior to kickoff against Oklahoma on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma.

Kansas interim head football coach Clint Bowen looks out over the stadium as the rain comes down prior to kickoff against Oklahoma on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

When covering a coaching search, it's important to keep in mind the entire college football landscape because what happens one place with one opening can impact what happens at another in a hurry.

That's certainly true at Kansas University and has been during each of the past two searches the Jayhawks had for a head football coach.

I've spent parts of the past couple of days looking back at our coverage of the search in 2011 and it brought back some serious memories, a couple of headaches and a few laughs.

One of the things that stood out the most, though, were the jobs that were open last time and how, at the time, it seemed like some pretty big-time gigs.

Texas A&M, UCLA, Mississippi, Arizona State, Washington State, North Carolina and Illinois all had openings at the time Kansas did, and all of them looked to be pretty heavy hitters with whom KU had to compete. The funny thing about that list is it pales in comparison to the jobs that are open this time around.

Florida, Michigan and Nebraska all are looking for head football coaches right now, and, as if those three don't carry enough weight on their own, a few smaller schools, which might actually be trying to pick from the same candidate pool as Kansas (like it or not) also have openings. These include Tulsa, UNLV, Montana and SMU, which already has filled its opening with Clemson assistant Chad Morris.

Although there was more crossover between candidates at Kansas and other schools the last time around, it seems like jumping on their guy a little faster this time around might be a good move for the Jayhawks. When the dominoes start to fall with the big three, the trickle-down effect could impact KU's search in a big way and create unnecessary headaches for Sheahon Zenger and company.

The good news for KU here is that the top names that appear to be in the hunt for the Kansas job do not appear to be options for the big three. If they were, Kansas would be in trouble and likely would have to look elsewhere anyway.

The reason for KU to try to get its deal done before those schools do is because of the potential fallout from a hire by the big dogs. Let's say Michigan hired Brett Bielema away from Arkansas. (Yes, Bielema was in Lawrence on Wednesday but only to visit with and extend an offer to Lawrence High football standout Amani Bledsoe).

Bielema's departure would leave an opening at Arkansas, which could be filled by someone like Justin Fuente, of Memphis. Even though it seems like Fuente is pretty much out of the mix for the KU job, his departure would leave the Memphis job open and that could be appealing to any number of candidates involved with Kansas.

It's a bit of a paranoid way to look at things, but wouldn't that just be KU's luck to finally identify a guy they feel is a good option only to see him plucked away by someone else for more money or a better chance to win right away?

Last time around, when Tom Keegan and I were ranking the job openings from most appealing to least, it was tough to put KU anywhere other than the bottom. This time around, even though those three big-boy jobs are in a different stratosphere, the Kansas opening at least appears to be a middle-of-the-pack gig relative to what's available.

Anyway, it doesn't seem like timing will be an issue here. I still think this thing wraps up mid-to-late next week. And I still think the names who were on my percentage wheel last night are the most likely names KU will go with.

I made a few more calls today and got a little more input on the situation. Nothing earth-shattering, but enough to move the needle a little bit. The order of today's percentage wheel has not changed much, but the values have.

Here's a look:

1. David Beaty – 35%
2. Clint Bowen – 31%
3. Other – 20%
4. Tim Beck — 9%
5. Ed Warinner — 5%

______

• As you can see, the gap between Bowen and Beaty has narrowed a little bit (at least in my mind) and I think Bowen is still very much alive in this thing. This may seem obvious, but it really could all come down to how Bowen handles the formal interview, whenever that takes place. Sometime early next week seems likely. It's obvious that Bowen has some pretty good support among KU folks and Zenger has seen what he can do with the team, in the locker room and on the sideline. So those things are all known already. What is not completely known by Zenger and the search committee is the breadth and quality of Bowen's vision for how to rebuild KU — although I do know they've had general talks about this topic during the past few months. Answers to questions about his staff, his recruiting plans and things of that nature could be crucial and Bowen may have to be nearly perfect in there to get his shot. If he is and if he's able to really impress Zenger, it could still be him.

• I went ahead and took Fuente off of the wheel completely because I had heard that whatever interest there may have been between Fuente and Kansas had cooled during the past couple of days and he's working on a new deal at Memphis. Here's what Memphis AD Tom Bowen (no relation) said in a recent statement:

“Our administration has been working proactively with Coach Fuente and his representatives on a new contract for several weeks. He has been very engaged and deeply appreciative throughout the process. We are very close to finalizing an agreement and look forward to making a formal announcement at an appropriate time. (We) are extremely excited about continuing to build the Memphis Football program under Fuente’s leadership."

Fuente also commented on the rumors surrounding his candidacy for various jobs during an interview on The Geoff Calkins Show earlier this week:

“Making absurd, definitive statements, in my opinion, is not the smart way to go,” Fuente said. “If something where there’s mutual interest comes along, then I’ll visit with them and we’ll think about it, measure everything out and make a calculated decision. But the thing I would say is I have a lot of sweat equity invested in this program. I have a lot of pride in what we’ve done. We have a fantastic coaching staff. I think we have a great support system to truly build a football program. So it’d have to be something pretty special for me to even look at it.”

• One thing someone pointed out to me that could be relevant if KU were to hire Beaty is that, although his recruiting ties in Texas would be huge, he would not actually be the guy able to recruit the state as much as his assistants because of the rules for how much head coaches can be on the road. Sure, he would be able to get out there and talk to kids and parents, but I don't think he'd be able to put in the same number of hours and visits as his assistants. Head coaches are allowed just one in-school visit with prospects and college programs are allowed a maximum of six in-person, off-campus visits with each prospect from Dec. 1 to Feb. 1, with the month-long dead period basically running during winter break. Such factors would make the staff Beaty brings to KU even more key. Something to consider with that is how well those guys — whoever they are — would know and/or be able to sell Kansas compared to Bowen and the staff he might put together. That's clearly not a make or break either way, just something I hadn't really thought of.

• More tomorrow as we do our best to stay on top of the situation and reach out to as many sources as we can to try to gain some insight into what direction KU might go with this hire.

Stay tuned….

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Coaching Search 2014: There’s a new No. 1 on the updated percentage wheel

Kansas University wide receivers coach David Beaty, right, delivers instructions to KU wideout D.J. Beshears on April 18 at the KU practice field. Beaty rejoined the Jayhawks’ staff after serving as offensive coordinator at Rice last season.

Kansas University wide receivers coach David Beaty, right, delivers instructions to KU wideout D.J. Beshears on April 18 at the KU practice field. Beaty rejoined the Jayhawks’ staff after serving as offensive coordinator at Rice last season. by Kevin Anderson

When Charlie Weis was fired on Sept. 28 and this whole Kansas University football coaching search first got rolling — the third such endeavor by KU since 2009 — there was one name that I always used to answer the question, “So who's gonna be the next coach?”

It might be time to put that name back at the top of the list.

Based on what I learned from a handful of conversations I had throughout the day Tuesday, I'm elevating Texas A&M assistant coach David Beaty to the No. 1 spot in my percentage wheel.

Here's a look:

1. David Beaty – 37%
2. Clint Bowen – 25%
3. Other – 16%
4. Justin Fuente – 10%
5. Tim Beck – 7%
6. Ed Warinner – 5%

As you already know — and many of you have so kindly pointed out — this does not mean Beaty is absolutely the guy or even in the lead or anything like that. The percentage wheel merely keeps tabs on what I think might happen and it's sounding a little more likely by the day that Beaty could be the guy the Jayhawks wind up with as the 38th head coach in program history.

If that's the case, the Jayhawks certainly would be making a solid hire.

I knew Beaty briefly during both of his stints as the KU wide receivers coach — once under Mark Mangino (2008-09) and again in 2011 under Turner Gill — and I liked everything about the guy.

He's a good guy. He's genuine. There's not an ounce of phoniness to him and he has incredible people skills, with the ability to relate to people from all walks of life, from a 16-year-old three-star recruit to a 72-year-old millionaire donor and everyone in between. He's one of those guys who seems to call everyone “partner” and finds a way to make them it when he does. Some might even say the Texas version of Bill Self, personality-wise, at least.

His recruiting ties throughout Texas are already well documented — he's a native of Garland, Texas and worked at four different Texas high schools from 1994-2005 — but it's probably worth noting that he has the deepest ties in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, which has been a hotbed for Kansas during the past decade and definitely will continue to be so into the future.

Beaty owns a highly intense personality, one that's rooted in down-home goodness and having fun. That's not to say he's a pushover. Not by any means. In fact, his receivers at Kansas always talked about how demanding he was and that he emphasized that they do all of the little things right — particularly with regard to blocking — and often did not accept anything less than perfection. At the same time, he respected them enough to make them feel appreciated and knew how to reward their solid efforts.

A lot has been made about Beaty being “the next Art Briles,” but that's a lot of pressure to put on one guy given the fact that many believe Briles is as good as they come in the college football coaching profession these days. The reason that probably comes up so often is because Beaty was a successful high school coach in Texas and followed that success to the college ranks, where he's done well both as a position coach and a recruiter.

One former Big 12 assistant I spoke to about Beaty said he believed without hesitation that Beaty was ready to make the leap to the head coach's office and added that if that's who the Jayhawks end up hiring they will have made a very quality hire.

In 2010, Beaty was the offensive coordinator at Rice and he held the co-offensive coordinator title during his second stint at Kansas under Gill while coaching wide receivers at both schools. He's been the A&M receivers coach for three years and is in his second season as A&M's recruiting coordinator.

It's possible there was some hope early on that KU might be able to convince Beaty to come to Lawrence as the offensive coordinator, but I'm betting A&M would step up and battle to keep him if that were the only offer on the table. If KU offers him the head coaching job, there's probably not much Kevin Sumlin could do to make A&M sound more appealing than that.

Former Kansas receivers coach David Beaty, right, will return to the KU coaching staff in 2011.

Former Kansas receivers coach David Beaty, right, will return to the KU coaching staff in 2011.

• As you can see, I've also added former Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck to the percentage wheel after being told not to sleep on the guy during this search and removed Matt Wells from the list.

• As for the one removal, I didn't hear much, good or bad, when asking around about Wells on Tuesday and I also noticed that Jon Kirby over at JayhawkSlant.com was planning to remove him from his board.

• I don't think Clint Bowen is done at this point. That's why he's still in the No. 2 spot on the percentage wheel. But his best shot right now seems to be if one or two other guys pass or remove themselves from contention. Let's say Beaty elects to stay at A&M (perhaps with a raise and a new title) and Fuente waits for a better job to come open to make his leap. If that were to happen, I think Bowen would be the guy.

• There's always the chance that someone new could enter the picture and that's why I've got "Other" up there so high still. All of that 11th hour talk that I heard on Sunday was pretty interesting.

• It's still early, but this thing seems to be moving pretty quickly. That makes sense because of all of that prep time Sheahon Zenger, Chuck Neinas and company had as the season played out and, it also makes sense because KU would be smart to move as fast as possible given the fact that big-time jobs Florida, Michigan and Nebraska are all open at the same time and what goes on there and the trickle-down effect that would follow could impact Kansas if they wait around too long.

Stay tuned…

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