Thursday, July 5, 2012

Grunhard, Bowen to lead KU football in recruiting Kansas

Kansas University assistant football coaches Tim Grunhard, left, and Clint Bowen will be responsible for leading KU’s recruitment of Kansas prospects under head coach Charlie Weis. Weis believes Grunhard and Bowen’s local connections will help lock up talent in the Sunflower State.

Kansas University assistant football coaches Tim Grunhard, left, and Clint Bowen will be responsible for leading KU’s recruitment of Kansas prospects under head coach Charlie Weis. Weis believes Grunhard and Bowen’s local connections will help lock up talent in the Sunflower State.


For the past few decades Kansas University football coaches have approached recruiting the state in a variety of ways.

From splitting Kansas into thirds to handing out a section of the state to each assistant coach on staff and everything in between, KU’s recent head coaches have attacked the home state with varying degrees of commitment and success.

For new coach Charlie Weis, the Sunflower State seems to be as important as anything in his recruiting philosophy, and his early emphasis on landing athletes from the area certainly has shown that.

“I think you better start winning on more of your local guys and not just concede ‘em to Missouri and Kansas State,” Weis said. “You just can’t do that. Now, are they gonna win their fair share? Yep, they’re gonna win their fair share. But we’re gonna win our fair share, too.”

The way Weis sees it, signing local talent early only can mean good things in the future.

“What happens is, when you start winning some of them, then you start winning more of them because those guys talk to the other guys about the experiences they’re having,” Weis said. “It’s all about word of mouth for the players.”

For Weis, it’s all about two guys. Although the majority of his coaching staff will have some kind of role in recruiting Kansas, Weis is basing his approach around special teams coordinator Clint Bowen and offensive line coach Tim Grunhard.

“Let’s realize what we’ve got here,” Weis said. “We’ve got two guys that know Kansas that have big names in Kansas.”

Weis is counting on Grunhard to deliver in the Kansas City area. Not only does his experience playing for the Kansas City Chiefs give him an automatic in, but his time as the head coach at Bishop Miege High in Roeland Park also figures to give KU an advantage. Since Weis hired Grunhard back in December, two players from Miege already have committed to Kansas. One, freshman-to-be Tre Parmalee, will be here this fall. The other, quarterback Montell Cozart, will come in with the Class of 2013.

“No one’s more known in Kansas City than Tim Grunhard,” Weis said. “There might be guys that might have been better players, but no one’s more known.”

It’s not just name recognition that Weis is expecting to make Grunhard a successful recruiter in the state.

“His personality’s infectious,” Weis said. “He’s hard-working, he’s diligent, he’s easy to talk to, he’s smart. So what kid in Kansas wouldn’t know Grunhard?”

As for Bowen, he’s the Lawrence equivalent of Grunhard. Well known by many around town, the Lawrence native has spent his life dedicated to the city he was raised in and has worked under three different head coaches at KU, where he played defensive back from 1992-93.

“There’s no one any more loyal to this school than Clint Bowen,” Weis said. “He might be the leader of the pack. Lawrence guy. Dad, brother, him, all went to this school. He’s come here three times. I told him he’s trying to set the record for most times fired and hired by the same school.”

It’s not just Bowen’s ties to his hometown that make him an asset in recruiting Kansas. Many guys that Bowen played with or against or even coached are now involved in coaching at the high school and junior college levels.

“A lot of his boys have all these junior colleges,” Weis said. “And when Clint calls up these head coaches and we’re not involved with somebody, the coaches get apologetic to Clint.”

Although just one member of Weis’ first class — offensive lineman Brian Beckman, of Blue Valley West — lists Kansas as his home state, the early returns on Class No. 2 have shown an increase in commitments from the state. Cozart, tight end Ben Johnson, of Basehor-Linwood, and quarterback Jordan Darling, of Shawnee Mission East, were among the first players in the Class of 2013 to commit to KU, and Grunhard was the lead recruiter on two of the three.

“We’ll sprinkle everyone else in,” said Weis, emphasizing that his entire staff would have a hand in recruiting Kansas. “But it all starts with those two.”

For Bowen, taking on such a responsibility has been a breeze.

“If you are a Kansas guy, you should have some state pride,” the former Lawrence High Lion said. “If you are from the Kansas City area, you should have some pride in your area and want to come help the local university.”

Added Grunhard: “We’re all on the same page and there are a lot of good guys here working hard to make this program the best that it possibly can be.”


Jeremy Bolinger 9 years, 10 months ago

I would love to see us get more involved with Jerel Morrow. That kid is a hell of an athlete. All in all though recruiting KC is critical to our success, moreso than Emporia. However, I still want the best player in the state at KU and nowhere else.

Displayhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

Jerel Morrow is committed to Oklahoma State.

Jeremy Bolinger 9 years, 10 months ago

I know this, but it's July. NSD is 8 months away. It's not official until its on the dotted line.

Displayhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

I hear ya, and I am right there with ya hoping he does change his mind! I was hoping we could also get that Rhoades (sp?) out of Blue Valley.

truefan 9 years, 10 months ago

The problem with the Jerel Morrow situation is that he wanted to go to a school that would allow him to run track and play football. Our track coach never sent him a single piece of mail and NU, KSU, and OSU's all did. We got eliminated early because of this and I don't think he's going to change his mind to KU unless our track coach pulls off a miracle.

squawkhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

Committed to OSU with KSU a close second. I don't think KU was realistically in the picture.

april28 9 years, 10 months ago

KU could get up to a third of its yearly recruiting class out of the Kansas/KC area; three to four from the state and three to four from the metro area. If they are the right guys, solid 3 and 4-star players, then you have a foundation, every year, for a decent recruiting class.

Michael Pannacciulli 9 years, 10 months ago

Forget k-state and Mizzou I am more concerned with Nebraska, OU, Texas taking the real studs. But we need wins, consistency in the program...hoping this regime can deliver that happens the pipeline is very possible.

squawkhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

NU, OU and TX will always take the "real studs". KU can't compete with them on their level. It's kind of like a law of nature. Will just have to do better with the kids we get.

Chris Bailey 9 years, 10 months ago

I read or heard somewhere that Kansas kids tend to bloom a bit later than other kids from other states. I'm sure this has to do with the amount of time they are allowed to spend on football. I believe this to be true. I think with a year or two of college coaching those kids are then where they should have been and mostly have caught up to kids from other states. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying we put out talent like Texas but we do have 10-15 kids every year than can play at the next level and be successful. Lock up the boarder and keep the big boys out. We want them at KU. ROCK CHALK!

GoHawks1 9 years, 10 months ago

Get it going boys. We are currently an afterthought with the few decent players that we have from the state of Kansas.

AirCapJay 9 years, 10 months ago

Recruits from Kansas are just as good as recruits from Texas. The problem is population, whereas the Dallas-Ft. Worth area has more population than the entire state of Kansas.

That being said, we need to keep the best Kansas recruits here. Kids want to be in a winning program so we have to start winning.

Randy Bombardier 9 years, 10 months ago

I agree for the most part. We get our fair share of big-time talent. It seems like most of the time they fall for the glamour of some far-off place. It seems to me that if we can take the under-the-radar players and beef them up, coach them up, instill the work ethic then we can play with anyone. That's what Snyder does. We have historically had more talent than K-State but he gets the most out of his and some of our guys just never reach their potential.

squawkhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

Yes, that's called coaching. We'll see what Weis can really do and whether he is all smoke and mirrors as some believe. And you are right about Snyder, he has probably done a better job than any coach in the country at coaching up lesser talent. How many times in the past years have they beaten Texas now?

texashawk10 9 years, 10 months ago

Kansas kids are not on par with kids from Texas. Kansas doesn't have spring football or 7 on 7 during the summer. States that have both produce more kids that are more ready to compete at the college level. If Kansas ever changes their restrictions, they might double the number of kids who D1 caliber players to about 25 a season.

Randy Bombardier 9 years, 10 months ago

Maybe not as developed but the talent is there. Can talented kids under the restrictive Kansas high school system catch up? Big question. But also there is no question we cannot let the Barry Sanders of the world get away.

texashawk10 9 years, 10 months ago

That lack of development is why Kansas only produces about a dozen or so D1 prospects a season. HS kids that do get spring football get the equivalent of an extra season worth of practices (45 or so over 3 years) which is huge when it comes to developing talent. That extra "season" of practices would likely be enough to get some fringe D1 talent developed enough to get D1 scholarships and fringe BCS caliber talent developed enough to get some BCS conference scholarships.

AnblickHawk 9 years, 10 months ago

Kansas kids do play 7 on 7 in the summer and go to local university camps throughout the summer

CheneyHawk 9 years, 10 months ago

Glad to see this - I think it benefits the program in so many ways. The posts above seem to allude that the state line is near Topeka rather than the talent all across this great state.

Bville Hawk 9 years, 10 months ago

Keep the football articles coming (even the ridiculous ones: "Study finds KU's Memorial Stadium offers one of the top home-field advantages in college football")!!!

Brak 9 years, 10 months ago

This is what I like to see, this shows that HCCW is learning from his mistakes at ND. He is utilizing his coaches and putting them in positions to succeed. This is the definition of a strong leader, someone who takes control of a program but can realize his own shortcomings and delegate those responsibilities to those who know are more capable. This is exactly the coach this program needed right now and I can only see things improving from here.

Fototherapist 9 years, 10 months ago

It seems as though Charlie is taking a page from Bill Snyder's book on how to rebuild a program. Focus on local talent, use juco transfers to fill the holes, and foster a sense of family on the team.

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