Thursday, December 20, 2012

Weis: Juco Jayhawks have chance to challenge vets, turn around program

Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis discusses KU’s recently signed junior-college transfers at a news conference on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, at KU.

Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis discusses KU’s recently signed junior-college transfers at a news conference on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, at KU.


Until Thursday, it had been up to the Kansas University football recruits themselves to talk up KU’s 2013 class and point out the strengths and interesting stories behind each of the 10 mid-year junior-college transfers who signed their letters of intent on Wednesday.

But Thursday, the man who landed them all took the microphone and, for the first time, was able to explain how so many players from such different places came together and picked Kansas.

“We kind of got into a very unique situation that no one could’ve expected, even us,” said second-year KU coach Charlie Weis. “I’d like to sit there and say we had it all nailed down, but we got into one of those unique perspectives where we challenged a lot of these guys to come and be a part of the reason why we went from 1-11 to whatever.”

The whatever remains to be seen, but with a class that currently ranks 32nd in the nation and fifth in the Big 12 conference, the importance of recruiting continues to be a cornerstone of Weis’ program.

“To me, you have two seasons,” Weis said Thursday. “You have the football season and then you have the recruiting season. And if you don’t treat the recruiting season just as important, then you’re never going to win on players.”

In the past couple of weeks — a period of time in which Weis admitted there were “a couple of miserable days” — the Jayhawks picked up a pair of four-star prospects and filled in around them. There’s a reason seven of the 10 mid-year transfers are linemen. And Weis spelled it out Thursday, in no uncertain terms.

“I don’t think we’re good enough,” he said. “If you don’t have offensive and defensive linemen, it doesn’t make a difference what else you have. If you don’t have those guys, you can have the greatest skill guys in the world, but if the offensive line can’t block, guess what, it’s not going to make a difference.”

Two of the most high-profile members of the group play on the defensive line, and Weis said their mere presence would give KU a chance to improve its woeful pass rush from 2012.

Pierce Community College defensive tackle Marquel Combs was ranked as the top junior-college prospect in the country by ESPN, and Weis said landing Combs was critical in putting together the rest of the group, which included four-star defensive end Chris Martin of City College of San Francisco.

“I was in his face,” Weis said of his visit with Combs. “I basically said, ‘Are you afraid?’ And that was right up his alley. He accepted the challenge and once he jumped on board, there were a lot of other people saying, ‘Well if he’s coming, let’s go.’ I think it really had a positive snowballing effect.”

With Combs committed, the rest fell into place quickly. Last week alone, KU picked up 10 oral commitments and six of them signed Wednesday. The others are expected to graduate in May and report to KU in June.

Regardless of when they would arrive, the class, led by Combs, adopted a slogan of “Dream Team 2013,” which speaks to the mindset of the newcomers. Weis said he did not anticipate their confidence dividing the roster. For one, he said the newcomers and current players got along great on the various visits.

“They’re like long lost best friends and they haven’t even been teammates yet,” Weis said.

Weis also believes that bringing in more talent will motivate the returning players to work harder to hold their spots.

“If they can’t read the writing on the wall, they’re not very intelligent,” Weis said. “That should drive them. The competition is totally different. It doesn’t make any difference what position you play; the competition has now changed. It’s not the same. And, if you don’t get better in a hurry, you’ll never play.”

That’s really what it’s all about. That’s the reason Weis is never happy with solid efforts and does not believe in moral victories. It’s why he’s willing to play anyone on his roster at any time as long as he thinks that gives his teams the best chance to succeed. And it’s why he hit the junior-college ranks as hard as he did this offseason, with 10 already signed and perhaps as many as 10 more coming in February.

“I want guys that can play, and I want to blend them with high school guys that want to play at Kansas,” Weis said. “You know what? You take that formula right there and we’ll have a chance to really get this right.”


Bville Hawk 9 years, 9 months ago

Success in the off-season will lead to success during the season.

Stay the course, keep the faith.

CrystalJones 9 years, 9 months ago

2013: Best head coach in college football + Best coaching staff in the Big 12 + Best quarterback in the Big 12 + Best junior college recruit (Combs) in the nation + Best running back in the nation...

This is simple arithmetic, so mark it down: KU will not only win the Big 12 next season, but will in the running for the national championship.

(While KSU will lose at least 8 games and be wondering how all this happened in just one year.)

Ian Ballinger 9 years, 9 months ago

I really really want to agree with you so very much... I was this optimistic at the beginning of this year... especially after we played with TCU and K-STATE for most of the first half and the very beginning of the second half. I want to see KU in the running for a BCS NAT'L Championship so bad it hurts... heck... I'm really the only devout KU football fan in my school... but I really think we should take breath.... we are still rebuilding. maybe a bowl game but I, as a HUGE KU football fan, doubt we are a competing for a national championship next year. I'd love to be proven wrong though.

Shawn Otrimble 9 years, 9 months ago

My friend, who is a K-State alum and a huge fan made a friendly bet for a steak dinner. I bet that Kansas will have at least 5 wins in football and K-State will have 5 losses. I believe I've got this bet won.

Jayhawker111 9 years, 9 months ago

You better save your money -because you will be buying dinner.

KU with 5 wins --dream on,,,, Look at the schedule and pick 5 wins....

You will be buying the steak!

Bee Bee 9 years, 9 months ago

I agree. To get from one win to five is a huge jump. KU would have to get A LOTTTTTTTT better. I think four would be the top and maybe three is realistic.

Boouk 9 years, 9 months ago

Looking at the schedule I see the 3 non-con games and TTU, Baylor, WVU and KSU at home. There's at least 5 wins right there.

CrystalJones 9 years, 9 months ago

Agree, especially with KSU. They are going DOWN big-time next year at Memorial. 40-point win for the Hawks.

Ian Ballinger 9 years, 9 months ago

40 point win?!?! Dude, I want KU to be a great football team again too, but think realistically... we are still rebuilding the program.

flyingfinn 9 years, 9 months ago

And even if KU does win 5 if Snyder is still around KSU won't lose 5, so if you did not specifiy a place and want to cut your loses, Golden Corral might be an option lol

Reuben_J_Cogburn 9 years, 9 months ago

Applebee's should be the ceiling for this bet. In that case, if it's a K-State fan, you'll be treating them to night of fine dining.

letourneau41 9 years, 9 months ago

Heaps hasn't played a single snap for the Hawks yet and you've labeled him EASILY THE BEST QB IN THE LEAGUE??? I hope Heaps is good but he hasn't proven anything yet.

Boouk 9 years, 9 months ago

I agree that the Big 12 will take a step backwards and the schedule will be easier for KU, but the ISU game is in Ames and that will be o e of our toughest Big 12 games next season.

Boouk 9 years, 9 months ago

One of our tougher Big 12 games, that is.

Ian Ballinger 9 years, 9 months ago

I personally think KU will be going bowling next year... just my opinion. I think we win our three non-conference games... that puts us at 3-0. I think after that we beat Texas Tech (4-0), TCU (5 wins) and Iowa State puts us at six wins. I want us to beat K-STATE... but. And remember... we thought Crist was going to be great, but look how that turned out

Micky Baker 9 years, 9 months ago

We go to Iowa State, we get Baylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Kansas State, and West Virginia at home. We go to Texas, to Iowa State, to Oklahoma State, and to TCU. We have 2 non-conference games at home and one at Rice.

I say we can win 7 including the game at Iowa State and if these guys are playing together, we gotta shot to beat West Virginia and maybe even Texas on the road.

Boouk 9 years, 9 months ago

Last season with horrible kicking, terrible QB play and Chris Omigie starting at WR we almost beat OSU, Texas, and TTU and Orangle Bowl bound NIU on the road. Heaps was way better at BYU than Crist was at Notre Dame, and Heaps isn't coming off multiple knee surgeries like Crist was. The kicking game will be vastly improved with the additions of Eric Kahn and Trevor Pardula. ESPN scouts said JUCO WR Rodriguez Coleman, who chose KU over KSU "plays fast and explosive" and "has quick feet given his size (6'3)." They also said JUCO WR Mark Thomas "is a reliable target with soft hands." Thomas runs a 4.4 40 and was recruited by WVU. With TTU, Baylor, WVU, and KSU without Collin Klien, Aurthur Brown, Meshack Williams, Milo, Tuggle, Chris Harper, and both starting CB's all at home next season, 5 wins is a very realistic expectation for KU.

CrystalJones 9 years, 9 months ago

You're right Boouk. And KSU returns nothing next year. NOTHING. No quarterback, a mediocre running back, no fullback, no tight end and the entire defense is GONE. 40 point win for the Hawks...IN LAWRENCE. Enjoy your little trip to the desert, KSU, because next year you're staying home and we're playing for a NC (you know, that thing you're not playing for this year, LOL).

gutter 9 years, 9 months ago

What Bowl game are we going to? I figure we should be at least a top 70 team. What excuse do we have not to be? How much money was spent to improve our football facilities so that we could recruit and develop top tier athletes? We have had one of the worst if not the worst football program/s in the country over the past 3 seasons. I am looking forward to seeing the benefits of our hiring Coach Weis to turn around or at least improve our program. It can only get better. I hope. I sure wish Coach Weis and KU Football the best. Go get 'em Charlie!

Reuben_J_Cogburn 9 years, 9 months ago

No bowl. The absolute best you could possibly hope for would be 5-7, which would be an improvement.

texashawk10 9 years, 9 months ago

Wrong, the absolute best we could hope for is 13-0 and a national title. Why should a bowl game be out if the question? KU's been a handful of plays away each of the past 2 seasons from a bowl game so with a little betyer execution and some luck why can't win 6 games and go to the Pinstripe or some other "Only fans if the teams playing care" bowl. A bowl game is a realistic goal next season and one these players should be and are striving for.

CrystalJones 9 years, 9 months ago

I completely agree with texashawk10. We have been "right there" in so many games over the past 2-3 years. Next year, one of the greatest coaching minds of all time will be leading a rejuvenated team containing a top recruiting class of EXPERIENCED, top-notch junior college football players. I do believe 13-0 -- AND A NATIONAL TITLE -- should be the goal. It's not that unrealistic when you consider who we have coaching these guys.

Chuck Woodling 9 years, 9 months ago

Some may consider it merely coincidental, but I find it ironic that Kansas University football shifted to a wholesale juco recruiting philosophy at virtually the same time the school announced it would beef up its academic admission requirements.

April13 9 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Woodling, as you know, there are no coincidences.....

NebraskaJayhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, I'm not getting too jacked up about this either until I see it on the field. I do like the fact that we got Combs though. He, Martin, and McKinney should help our defense tremendously next season if we can get a rush. We haven't had a decent pass rush in years. Some people have posted about taking incorrect angles, etc...and that has contributed some to the lack of sacks. But really we haven't had a consistant rush at all. Heck, we haven't even had Dlinemen that get their arms up in the air to bat down passes since Charlton Keith (sp?).

Brian Zachary 9 years, 9 months ago

Can we please quit throwing Dayne Crist under the bus now? He chose YOUR university out of the other opportunities he had. He represented the school with dignity and class. He chose to come to a state where football was only a punch line for better part of century. Dayne planted the seeds for future prospects to give a basketball school a chance to compete at football. So next time you start running down these kids, remember this. They chose to be Jayhawks. They performed the best they could with what they had. They excelled in the classroom. They excelled as citizens. So please, give the horse a rest and move on to the positive aspects and lets build this program that competes on Saturdays and wins the rest of the week.

onetonhand 9 years, 9 months ago

I have to agree it didn't work out for Dayne but it wasn't for lack of effort and he really didn't get much help.

jay_cheese 9 years, 9 months ago

Unfortunate that Charlie can't talk his way into more victories on the field. I'm happy we landed some of these players and do think they will help the team improve, but let's not lose focus the real victories that actually count. Terry Allen did better than one win....

JayDocMD 9 years, 9 months ago

No doubt a disappointing season, but anyone with eyes could see this team was better than last year's. We played one of the toughest schedules in the nation - all 11 losses were to bowl teams. And we were a field goal kicker away from several more wins. If (and its a big if) Heaps is a Big 12 caliber starting QB, if these JUCO DB's can play, and if some WR's step up... then we will have the chance to flirt with bowl eligibility.

And if "If's and Buts" were candy and nuts... well, lets all have a Merry Christmas regardless.

Brandon Pope 9 years, 9 months ago

I get people harping on the record. 1-11 is pretty bad. But anyone who still holds that last years' team was not a major improvement is kidding themselves. Given the schedule we played last year had the potential to be truly ugly and that is saying something considering the record.

I agree with JayDoc MD, This team was 2 or 3 players from a handful of wins last year. Have to see it on the field but I like where we are headed.

Micky Baker 9 years, 9 months ago

He inherited a MUCH better team than Weis did too.

leonard 9 years, 9 months ago

"And it’s why he hit the junior-college ranks as hard as he did this offseason, with 10 already signed and perhaps as many as 10 more coming in February." - Tait

10 more in February? If every commit actually signs and shows up...including 10 more in Feb...what's the total number of jucos for the coming season?

Robert Brown 9 years, 9 months ago

It's always hard for me to get too excited about recruiting because I don't know anything about it and it is an inexact science. I assume that each of the JUCO players have two years of eligibility. It really comes down to coaching next year. No excuses about lack of talent. Can our coaching staff take this talent get them to I prove the way Bill Snyder takes classes that yearly rank at the bottom of the league in recruiting and consistently wins conference games or the way Bill Self will take a player that is ranked 50th or 60th overall and make him an NBA draft pick.

Bee Bee 9 years, 9 months ago

I look at it like these JUCO players CAN'T be any worse than what KU already has.

Jim Jackson 9 years, 9 months ago

In '02 Mangino's second season, he did the exact same thing, signed about 16 JUCO guys and we went to a bowl game that season. He inherited D1AA talent and we had far inferior facilities. I'm going to say that these JUCO guys, overall, are superior in ability and we have far better talent already enrolled.

We are going bowling. Rock Chalk!

vd 9 years, 9 months ago

You forget that our coach thought Crist was better then Webb, and evaluation and coaching of QBs is his strong point. If he is an expert on evaluating QB talent, how bad is he at evaluating talent at the other positions. I hope you're right, but I have seen nothing that's says you will be.

Boouk 9 years, 9 months ago

I'll go out on a limb and say that back in December you thought Crist would be better than Webb. Matt Tait and Tom Keegan said Crist was really good in practice, but obviously he could even come close to playing at that level in games. That's not Weis' fault.

vd 9 years, 9 months ago

I'm not the coach making millions, so what my evaluation of the QBs is not important. I'll also go out on a limb and say if I were the coach I wouldn't run off the team's two year starter either.

vd 9 years, 9 months ago

When CW made the decision that Crist was better then Webb, he was saying:

1) ND's coaches are dummies and can't coach or evaluate talent 2)KU's coaches are dummies and can't coach or evaluate talent

I respect the views coaches, CW does not.

Boouk 9 years, 9 months ago

For the billionth time, back in December everyone thought Crist would provide an upgrade over Webb. While Webb was average at best throughout his career at KU, Crist had several 300+ yard passing games during his time at Notre Dame and already knew Weis' offense. That's not talent evaluation, that's a no-brainier that went horribly wrong thanks to Crist playing terribly in games, unlike his time on the practice field at KU and his times playing for Weis at Notre Dame.

Brian Leiker 9 years, 9 months ago

This means jack sh*t until we have a QB. What if Heaps isn't the answer? Why didn't he go balls to the wall for the best Juco QB out there? Our receivers run horrible routes and I think thats partly Rob's fault. I know this much. If Snyder had this class, by next year they would be in the hunt again.

JayDocMD 9 years, 9 months ago

What JUCO QB worth anything would come to KU when there is already a QB in waiting that the coach already obviously loves. That just wasn't gonna happen.

Bville Hawk 9 years, 9 months ago

We already have a good juco QB in Turner Baty. He played one year at a top juco and set all sorts of passing records. He red shirted this past season at KU. If Jake Heaps is not the real deal I think Baty will be close. I expect him to give Heaps good competition for the QB spot next season.

Jim Jackson 9 years, 9 months ago

Heaps set several records at BYU. Unlike Crist, he does not have 2 bum knees.

Heaps will lead us to victories.

John Fitzgerald 9 years, 9 months ago

Is it football season yet!????? Seriously, I just want to see these guys play! Lol It's like getting your heartbroken by your highschool sweetheart then meeting a gorgeous chick online that you can't meet until September. THIS IS PAINFUL!!! At least it's for a good reason though. RCJH!!!

KGphoto 9 years, 9 months ago

Top to bottom it seems this class was being more heavily recruited by better programs than any KU class for quiet awhile. We certainly haven't landed two 4-star Dlineman in the same class that I can remember. (Really a 4 and a 5)

Combs alone is going to make a huge difference along the Dline. He's the kind of natural leader Weis was talking about at a position we need a leader at. I think we got our anchor on that line for the next couple of years. You can't overstate the importance of that. It's were everything starts defensively. Tavai came in and played okay with a late start. Combs is obviously much better and getting the full prep time.That's an A+ defensive recruit for Charlie.

Martin is another guy I see as becoming a leader immediately. Because of his experience with Weis and Holsopple, because he has the physical ability to become an alpha at DE, and because he has the nasty streak that gets other guys pumped up. Two years ago he had the talent to be offered by Florida, Georgia, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, USC and others, and was considered the 18th best player in the country, regardless of position. I doubt his talent has really dropped off so much. If he keeps it clean off the field, he'll be a menace on it.

Sorry, Cogburn, but I'm excited about this class.

Jim Jackson 9 years, 9 months ago

I am VERY excited. With the addition of receivers McCay(not eligible this past year), Coleman, Thomas and Hyman, I expect the passing game to open up and be MUCH improved.

As I said, Heaps set several records at BYU and with Turzilli showing promise and Ford learning the offense, I expect a dangerous passing attack.

Sorry, but having 2 WR's starting at 5'9, which we did (1 AA!!!), we had no chance especially with our QB play.

Further to that, I expect McCay to step up. You would think that in the spring with his natural talents he would have been a clear no.1 WR (before being ruled ineligible) but he was not. Hopefully he reads our comments about him and it fuels his fire because there are doubts about his ability.

Boouk 9 years, 9 months ago

Don't forget about Mark Thomas at WR. ESPN scouts said "he has quick feet and a quick surge off the ball" and "he is a crafty route-runner who is a reliable target with soft hands." Thomas runs a 4.4 40 and was also recruited by WVU.

Boouk 9 years, 9 months ago

Sorry, you didn't forget about him.

Patrick Bryant 9 years, 9 months ago

Stay positive on the JUCO recruits. Kids go to JUCO's for all sorts of reasons. JUCO's do a pretty good job of weeding out the problems and getting a majority of them pointed in the right direction. Sure there are problems but every program (D1 to JUCO's) has their share of Taco Bell incidents.

BayPark 9 years, 9 months ago

Spot on. By the same token, we also know what we don't know. That is, who or how many of these juco recruits will pan out. Sure, maybe we did shore up our defense enough to win a few games next year. Maybe Ford, McCay, Thomas et al will be an upgrade over last year.

Or maybe they won't. The proof will be on the field, and not in the words of a media scout.

Mark Lindrud 9 years, 9 months ago

I coached in Arizona at a JUCO and saw lots of our players make it to D1 schools with some success. Most of them are good guys who weren't ready for D1, but after a year or two of development and maturity they were highly prepared. Many of them want to show their worth and often are hungrier for success than guys currently on the roster. We will be improved, and the sooner guys mesh then the sooner we can become a cohesive unit ready for success.

JayHok 9 years, 9 months ago

KU fans excited for 2013 football to start shows great things are happening after KU being publically removed from BCS and bowl conversation for 3 years due to a list to long to detail, including a handoff from starting the season 6-0 three years ago, the seasom stopped short by an injury to Reesing in the second half in Boulder. More things than that happened that year, but that's when the real pain began. The tables are finally turning back to where they were and even better it appears than the state of things back then, even if Mangino had stayed.

For the next six months we need to root for Hopsopple and for the players to go to the gym themselves and run simple run and throw drills all offseason. Just like a basketball team that works hard in the offseason we now have a strength coach, a staff, and a group of players with chips on their shoulders. It takes hard work and timing in the offseason to get it right for those first 4 games of the season that are so crucial.

Win each of those first 4 games and see where that takes us thereafter. It's the offseason work that gets us there, along with great recruits. Thank god we have Hopsopple. He's the behind the scenes game breaker.

JayHok 9 years, 9 months ago

How many previously ranked 5 stars will be working with Hopsopple this offseason in the weight room?


Combs, Martin, McKay, Heaps, possibly Pierson...

Two on offense two on defense mixed in with several 4 stars and highly rated JUCO players.

I think as fans it's defintely OK to be excited for next year!

Win the first 4 and go from there.

Boouk 9 years, 9 months ago

Last season with no passing game whatsoever, terrible kicking and no pressure on the opposing QB we almost beat OSU, Texas, and TTU and Orange Bowl bound NIU on the road. The kicking game will be vastly improved with the additions of Eric Kahn and Trevor Pardula. Jake Heaps was way better at BYU than Crist was at Notre Dame and he isn't coming off multiple knee surgeries like Crist was. We'll be much better at WR with McCay, JUCO WR Rodriguez Coleman, who chose KU over KSU and ESPN scouts say "plays fast and explosive" and "has very quick feet given his size (6'3)" and JUCO WR Mark Thomas, who chose KU over WVU and ESPN scouts say "is a reliable target with soft hands" and "has quick feet and a quick surge off the ball." It's obvious that this team would've won all those close games last season and that going to a bowl game next season is very possible.

Micky Baker 9 years, 9 months ago

The USA Today wrote about KU's recruiting class, and they are impressed.

Micky Baker 9 years, 9 months ago

If we could have gotten St. John, OU moved up to number 10 with him from 22. We would have moved into the top 20 in this year's recruiting classes with him. Oh well, just make him pay for that decision when he comes to town with the Sooners this year.

Boouk 9 years, 9 months ago

Getting Matt Finnin would make up for it though. His list of offers is every bit as impressive as St. John's is and he has great size at 6'8 330.

HawkInAL 9 years, 9 months ago

Already making plans for @Rice and for this after a 7-5 regular season.

April13 9 years, 9 months ago

One hidden advantage of this approach to recruiting is this: with 5 weeks till high school signing day, Weis and the entire staff can go all in on the remaining 4 or 5 players. If they succeed, we could have a top-20 class.

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