Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Relentless pursuit: KU assistant coaches place premium on recruiting QBs

Killeen (Texas) High quarterback Michael Cummings throws against Killeen Shoemaker on Sept. 4, 2010, at Leo Buckley Stadium.

Killeen (Texas) High quarterback Michael Cummings throws against Killeen Shoemaker on Sept. 4, 2010, at Leo Buckley Stadium.



Valor Christian quarterback Brock Berglund, right, scrambles away from Steamboat defenders in this 2009 photo from the Class 3A state championship football game in Aurora, Colo. Berglund signed to play football at Kansas University on Jan. 4, 2011.


Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb throws under pressure from Texas A&M defensive lineman Ben Bass (90) during the second quarter Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010 at Kivisto Field.


Kansas quarterback Quinn Mecham throws as he is chased by Iowa State defenders Jacob Lattimer (48), Bailey Johnson (85) and Stephen Ruempolhamer (97) during the second quarter Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010 at Jack Trice Stadium.

While the coaching staff waits to see if either Brock Berglund or Michael Cummings turns out to be Kansas University’s quarterback of the future, the position remains a priority on the recruiting trail.

“You’re probably always gonna take a quarterback,” KU assistant coach Reggie Mitchell said, when asked what position, if any, the Jayhawks would recruit every year in a recent interview with the Journal-World. “That’s just the nature of that position.”

Sometimes quarterbacks pan out. Other times they flop. And still other times they change positions. KU’s current two-deep depth chart features three such examples, as wide receivers Kale Pick and Christian Matthews, and tight end AJ Steward all arrived on campus as QBs.

Then there’s the case of Todd Reesing and Kerry Meier.

Meier made his way to KU in the Class of 2005 and came with 4.6-second 40-yard dash speed and a 6-foot-3, 203-pound frame. Clearly, Meier was the kind of QB the Jayhawks envisioned shaping their future around. But one year later, former KU coach Mark Mangino had a hunch about a 5-10, 180-pound waterbug out of Texas and offered him a scholarship. It turned out to be the best move Mangino ever made. Reesing beat out Meier for the starting QB job in 2007 and led the Jayhawks to a 12-1 season and an Orange Bowl victory while becoming one of the greatest players in Kansas football history. At the same time, Meier took his size and skill and became an NFL-caliber wide receiver, one of the best to ever play the position at KU. Imagine if Mangino had sat on Meier as his quarterback and simply stopped recruiting the position.

The numbers show Mitchell’s claim to be dead on. During the past 10 seasons, KU has signed a quarterback in every class. In five of those 10 classes, the Jayhawks signed two QBs. Nine of the 15 guys on that list stayed at quarterback — eight of those started at least one game — while four moved to wide receiver, one moved to tight end and one left the program a year after arriving. While it’s still too early to tell where freshmen Berglund or Cummings will play, it’s safe to expect KU to keep recruiting QBs behind them.

“One thing I learned about the quarterback position a long time ago is you never know,” offensive coordinator Chuck Long said. “You never know.”

Recruiting a different game with Class of 2012

During their first full season at Kansas, the KU coaching staff signed 27 players in the Class of 2011, which was ranked as one of the Top 35 classes in the country by most recruiting services.

With just 13 scholarships available for the Class of 2012, Gill’s crew has encountered a vastly different recruiting landscape than the one with which it had such success a year ago. Smaller pools of athletes, deeper player evaluations and careful consideration of each offer has created a slight change of style. In short, the staff is making its list and checking it 10 times.

“You hate to say it, because you don’t want it to seem like you work harder some years than others,” Mitchell said. “But, this year, because of our numbers, we’ve had to do an even better job of evaluating guys because with (13) scholarships you can’t afford to make a mistake.”

Three players — Overland Park offensive lineman Brian Beckmann, Florida cornerback Daniel Gray and Arkansas athlete Derek Keaton — already have made oral commitments to Kansas, which leaves the Jayhawks with 10 scholarships left to hand out.

Though the Jayhawks have identified areas of need, they won’t stick to them blindly.

“It’s kind of like the NFL Draft,” Mitchell said. “You go in with a set plan, but you’re not gonna turn down a great player just to get a position of need. You’re gonna take the best players.”

Mitchell continued: “It’s not a perfect science, but we’ve watched guys and rewatched ’em and we’re really evaluating guys just to make sure we aren’t gonna miss on a guy. We’ve probably scrutinized them a little more than we have in the past.”

While the Jayhawks have fewer scholarships to dish out and different paths to pursue this time around, their main objective remains the same as it was last year.

“We’re trying to get speed,” Mitchell said.


ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 11 months ago

Blah blah speed blah speed speed blah blah blah. I'd prefer we got stars, like 13 4 star players!

As for Brock my sources inform me he had a change of heart until TK blasted him. Now he has recommitted himself to the hawks with the purpose of blasting TK back. He was last seen training in a snow covered mountain cabin. Growing a beard, chopping wood, lifting rocks, and you will now when he is going to report to campus when he climbs the highest mountain in CO, faces larryville and yells Keeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeegan!!!!

(al stories are fictional but I do believe at some point in the past or in the neat future BB will compare his skill set to Rocky's)

Marc Frey 10 years, 11 months ago

Let Jaybate come up with the thinking man's humor.

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 11 months ago

Wow! Ambien, couple of drinks, and toxic firework fumes contributed to the article.

Mike Suellentrop 10 years, 11 months ago

Agreed! We need more highly ranked players as seen by the internet recruiting gurus. To hell with speed! When did that ever win a game on the field? It's all about the stars!!! This ahpers joker is hilarious!

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 11 months ago

Skill, size, and strength also play important rolls!

Mike Suellentrop 10 years, 11 months ago

Exactly! We need big, strong and slow but highly ranked players! Tell me more genius!

kpi03 10 years, 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Mark Lindrud 10 years, 11 months ago

Ahper, that was funny. Until we find the right QB we need to keep looking. We don't know what we have with Berglund or Cummings so we need to keep it an open competition. Webb may pan out this year as a RS Sophomore or not, but you never say no to talent. Bring in the studs and we can figure out in the end who should be playing for us.

Kevin Studer 10 years, 11 months ago

I thought we already had one player (an O-lineman, I don't remember which one) fail to qualify and go to a juco. Wouldn't that give us 14 scholarships?

Matt Tait 10 years, 11 months ago

That's true but it didn't give KU an extra scholarship for 2012 because that scholarship was assigned to LB Malcolm Walker, a juco transfer who originally came as a walk-on.... 13 was the number and with 3 guys already committed it's now at 10 remaining...

waywardJay 10 years, 11 months ago

Clearly, Tait still thinks Brock will play for Kansas at some point.

haydenhawkco 10 years, 11 months ago

Matt, We all read Keegan's article and I am wondering if you or Jesse disagree.

Matt Tait 10 years, 11 months ago

Way too much still up in the air to even make a guess. I know Tom got good information but, with the way the whole Berglund saga has played out so far, I think the only way to approach this thing is to wait and see if he shows up in August. Wouldn't surprise me if he does, wouldn't surprise me if he doesn't. One way or the other he needs to figure it out and stuck with it because I don't think he's in good standing with most of the KU players right now...

KGphoto 10 years, 11 months ago

But why doesn't he quote the players? It just seems irresponsible to build negative theories about a team you supposedly support, based on info from anonymous sources. And how credible could those sources be if they chose to, or were coached to remain anonymous?

It makes LJW look like a crappy tabloid.

I appreciate you saying "Way too much up in the air..." That's all I need to know. That's all LJW should be willing to suggest.

Jeremy Bolinger 10 years, 11 months ago

No journalist is going to use their sources, because if they do they will no longer have them. Im glad Keegan didnt rat out anybody, and I dont think it makes the LJW look like a crappy tabloid. Its the mans opinion. Take it or leave it. I happened to think it was accurate. Something smells fishy with this kid. No doubt about it!

KGphoto 10 years, 11 months ago

It's gossipy tabloid crap. Either tell us what's up or say what Matt did. Too much up in the air.

Joe Baker 10 years, 11 months ago

I still can't believe KU let Blake Bell slip South to OU. Maybe he wasn't interested in KU, ok, maybe but Mangino should have made a better effort. I don't think he tried hard enough and may have been intstrumental in Bell and Geneo going to OU. I don't think Mangino did much to help KU his last year.
TGill should've jumped all over both recruits. I think he attempted to get Grissom but ol' sneaky snake Venables sure kept I-35 and the Hutchinson trail burning red with that nasty OU red crap dirt. Now they sit in Norman, on the bench, watching others play while their talent is being wasted.

10 Bell, Blake 6-6 241 QB RS FR Wichita, Kan. (Bishop Carroll HS) SOPH- '11 85 Grissom, Geneo 6-3 249 DE RS FR Hutchinson, Kan. (Hutchinson HS) SOPH- '11

It looks as though Landry Jones will play the next two years in OU as the QB. OU has RS Bell and he may play 1-2 yrs in OU. Interesting recruiting by Stoops because they are really touting two other QBs for OU. He simply took Bell out of Kansas to keep him from KU and KSU. I don't know why Bell was hell bent on OU.

Depth Chart details | roster 1. QB - L. Jones | 6-4, 230, Jr. 2. QB - D. Allen | 6-5, 236, So. **This kid is a San Antanio product and OU loves their Texas recruits because they love beating Texas with Texas boys. 3. QB - B. Bell | 6-6, 241, Fr. **Good luck Blake you just got Munsoned in Norman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4. QB - K. Thompson | 6-1, 170, Fr. *****This kid is from Moore, OK and seems to be the favorite to replace Jones as the QB.

texashawk10 10 years, 11 months ago

Elite level football prospects from the Wichita area rarely end up committing to KU or KState. Ever since both schools snubbed Barry Sanders in the 80's, it's been nearly impossible to keep the elite Wichita kids in state. The Brown brothers ending up at KState is a different story because they both committed elsewhere before returning. Both of them can probably be considered busts at this point based on the hype they had coming out of high school although Bryce only played one year and will still be considered one of the better backs in the Big 12 in 2011 because he will be the KState offense this season.

Chris Mossman 10 years, 11 months ago

Blake Bell grew up with Oklahoma as his favorite team. He dreamt his whole life of going to OU to play football, so when they came calling there was no way he was going anywhere else. It would be like if you grew up in Oklahoma and KU was your favorite basketball team your whole life. If KU offered you a scholarship to play basketball then there would be no way OU or OSU would have a chance to keep you in state. There was no chance that Blake Bell was staying in state if OU offered him, so you need to get off that train. Grissom's a different story though.

Chris Bailey 10 years, 11 months ago

From what I was told Gill's staff didn't do a good job keeping many of the recruits after Mangino's departure. I was told by some kids from Hutch that they didn't really make an effort to keep Grissom as he Josh Smith and Dinwiddie were all planning on going to school together. I don't think Bell ever had KU truly on his radar. I do think he would have benefited from coming here as he would be playing now. Not sure we did our selves any favors firing Mangino at that time but it's now in the past. I think we could have gotten the 3 Hutch kids had we tried and we should have!

Hawk007 10 years, 11 months ago

Grissom left because Mangino and his staff were fired. He was committed to us and was definitely coming here until everything blew up. Can't blame that one on Mangino not trying hard enough.

Joe Baker 10 years, 11 months ago

Actually TGill did revisit Grissom and almost had him after the Mangino incident. As I said, Venables turned on the OU charm and ultimately swept Geneo away.

kureader 10 years, 11 months ago

Years ago, the scholarship limit was 40, and lots of players quit. At least 1/3 of the players quit during their freshman year ... maybe 25 players returned in year 2. And, 8 or 10 players would quit in the first two or three months. No one noticed, and it certainly didn't make the newspaper.

Matt, a remedial question for you or others, I'm wondering if you know what these limits/turnover statistics look like today, and how we ended up with just 13 scholarships this year.

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 11 months ago

Seriously! Look at the background of the two high school photos and then compare it to the picture of our stadium.

haydenhawkco 10 years, 11 months ago

What's your point? Are you stating how they are similar? Are you asking about the photos of BB and MC or Webb and Mecham?

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 11 months ago

I'm saying, would a serious football school have room for a giant delivery truck parked right next to the field?

haydenhawkco 10 years, 11 months ago

I can agree with that. Isn't KU building a track and field facility near the baseball / softball fields? Also, very few high schools in Colorado have a stadium on their campus. The teams play at "shared" stadiums in the metro area that facilitate many HS sports. That picture is from Legacy Stadium.

Machawk 10 years, 11 months ago

I watched Blake Bell play in a 5A district game his senior year, and I was not that impressed. He is a physical speciman for sure, but he did not appear to be that accurate of a passer on that occasion. I realize one game is not a representative sample for evaluating talent, but for my money Bubba Starling was a play maker if I ever saw one. Hopefully he spurns the Red and takes the Green.

texashawk10 10 years, 11 months ago

A situation I would love to see play out from a selfish Jayhawk fan perspective would be that Starling plays 2-3 years of baseball, realizes he will never be a MLB talent and comes back to school and decides to play at KU so he can play close to home since playing at a school with good football and baseball will not be an option. Of course I would prefer to see him succeed for the Royals because they should become a very good team in the next couple of seasons similarly to the Rays a couple of years ago and the Pirates this season.

Joe Baker 10 years, 11 months ago

OU has a good rep for recruiting QB talent. Stoops saw something in his ability. Also, Gill was a former QB for Osburn and I really don't understand why he can't land a Blake Bell type QB.

However, as I said above, Bell may not see much playing time. Between Jones, Allen and Thompson, Bell will not see much turf. Bell's recruiting may have been more strategy than anything for OU.

Geekinout 10 years, 11 months ago

B/c Gill came from a system that died out in college football years ago?

Mike Suellentrop 10 years, 11 months ago

Well let's see, could it be because Gill is currently recruiting his SECOND class??? The first class was MM's and all he could do was try to hold on to those commitments. Holy crap he doesn't land a stud QB in his first class and people are freaking out.

Brad Avery 10 years, 11 months ago

Finding a quarterback is probably as important to the continued presence of Coach Gill at KU as it was to Coach Mangino, if not more so. While it doesn't hurt to ask the next Blaine Gabbert whether he wants to come to KU, Todd Reesing's success as a B12 quarterback was based upon what he had between his ears and obviously not his arm strength, physical stature or speed. Todd's only D1 offer was from KU, and it's probably going to take that kind of fortune, insightfulness and thinking outside the box on the part of the coaching staff to get a top flight quarterback.

SeaJHawk 10 years, 11 months ago

Actually, Duke offered too. As they say (which is really quite stoopid), "Just saying..."

waywardJay 10 years, 11 months ago

For those not keeping records, Ahem Keegan.

While you get fewer clicks the actual results you DO get are more worth while....

You write a good article... you don't get 75 percent of your click being about how atrocious your article was.... There is nothing particularly homerish in this article EITHER. It's objective but it's legitmate and it doesn't hide behind the word COMMENTARY.

Thanks for giving us something legitmate to talk about instead of giving us something to line our birdcages with.

kureader 10 years, 11 months ago

"Thanks (Keegan) for giving us something legitimate to talk about instead of giving us something to line our birdcages with."

He didn't. Tait wrote the article.

waywardJay 10 years, 11 months ago

I know. That's entirely the point.

Perhpas I verbalized it odd but that was what I was getting at.

kureader 10 years, 11 months ago

Wayward ... sorry, I didn't understand.

Dennis Mahorney 10 years, 11 months ago

Im getting to where I read Matt's articles right away, and others when there is more time...

Jamaal25Chiefs 10 years, 11 months ago

Lets STOP with the rumors. . Us fans gotta see the positive playing in Webb, and Mecham. . . They are both talented. . They didn't have great blocking, and average WRs. . . Speed WILL help, but it will not make a team great. . If they can't throw, carry, catch, run routes. . . block etc.

yovoy 10 years, 11 months ago

Actually, ahper wins this one with the comedy. It was pretty funny - AND brief. They both take their role on here like it's a job: I'd love to see the effort they give OTJ.

yates33333 10 years, 11 months ago

I don't want to be too involved in KU football. I have enough disappointments in life already. But, why wouldn't they look relentlessly for a QB. Look what Todd Reesing did for the KU program. He took us from the to the penthouse. You all know where we are back to now.

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