Sunday, February 3, 2013

KU football recruiting draws to a close


With national signing day set for Wednesday and Kansas University’s football program still with two scholarships to hand out, the next couple of days figure to be interesting and exciting as KU’s coaches wait to hear if there are any last-minute commitments who join what is regarded as a top-40 class by many recruiting outlets.

Twenty-five prospects in the Class of 2013 already have committed to KU, and 11 signed national letters of intent in December. The rest are expected to sign Wednesday, but getting to that point has been tough for a few of them.

Most notable on that list is Iowa Western defensive back Isaiah Johnson, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound safety who committed to Kansas in December and has remained committed to the Jayhawks despite receiving interest and offers from other schools in the weeks since.

A couple of weeks ago, Texas Tech made a strong push at Johnson, who initially set up a visit with the Red Raiders but later canceled because of his comfort with Kansas. More recently, Missouri and Wisconsin also made late pushes, but Johnson rejected both.

“It’s frustrating,” Johnson admitted. “I think it’s kind of tough when you’re committed to one school but other schools keep calling. It’s hard.”

Johnnson isn’t the only KU commitment to endure such action. Louisville, Ky., offensive lineman Joey Bloomfield also has continued to rack up offers, and Pierce Community College linebacker Marcus Jenkins-Moore often fielded questions from other schools about why he picked KU.

“No other schools have really called me lately because I already told them I’m committed to KU, and I’m going to KU,” Jenkins-Moore said. “In the beginning, a couple schools respected it, but a lot of schools were questioning me on my decision and asking me why I was going to a school that’s 1-11. But it’s all good. They should be happy for me.”

With such activity being the norm in college football these days, coaches know they have to do as much recruiting after landing a commitment as they do before. During the past several weeks, KU’s coaching staff has double- and triple-teamed already-committed athletes to make sure those commitments stick.

Although Johnson admitted to being flattered by the continued interest, he said the work the KU coaching staff has done since he committed easily matched the work it put in to get him in the first place.

“Coach (Buddy) Wyatt has been doing a real good job,” Johnson said “If another school comes after me, I tell him, and he, coach (Dave) Campo and coach (Rob) Ianello all came to my school to let me know how much they wanted me. That just shows they really care. They’ve been with me throughout the whole process. They’ve been at my house. They’ve done everything they can to get me.”

Because of that, Johnson has rejected all other offers and, long ago, started counting down the days to signing day.

“I’m still committed to KU,” he said. “I can’t imagine anything changing that. It’s coming down to the wire, but I’m just ready to get it over with; I’m ready to sign right now.”

There is good news for Johnson and the rest of the commitments still hearing from other schools. Coaches have reached another dead period, so no contact of any kind is permitted between now and signing day.

Savage still thinking?

KU’s late-game wish list still includes a few high school seniors and junior-college prospects, and one name seems to have climbed to the top.

Arizona Western CC offensive lineman Dionte Savage, a 6-5, 345-pound guard who previously committed to Baylor, has reopened his recruitment and has been as busy as any prospect in the country during the past couple of weeks.

KU has put the full-court press on Savage, with head coach Charlie Weis and assistants Tim Grunhard, Jeff Blasko and Reggie Mitchell all playing a part.

Savage visited and loved KU during the final weekend of January and also has taken visits to Texas Tech and Oklahoma. Baylor remains a player and has done its best to hang on to Savage, who is expected to take his decision down to the wire.


LAJayhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

A little ironic that the first 3/4's is about us trying to hang on to our recruits, then finishes with us trying to take someone else's. Yes, I understand that Savage has "reopened" his recruitment, but, at the very least, it is a little bit of humorous duplicity.

But that's how the game is played. So I hope no one blames other coaches for going after our guys. Everyone plays the game. Including us.

Marcia Parsons 9 years, 10 months ago

If he reopened his commitment, he is asking other schools to contact him. That's a lot different from someone who keeps repeating that he is committed to KU and still they keep after him.

Jonathan Allison 9 years, 10 months ago

it's possible that he reopened his recruitment because of all the other school that continued to contact him after his commitment. it's speculation only, but if that is the case, then it's really not different at all from Isaiah Johnson's case, except that Johnson seems to be unwavering in his commitment to KU.

Sounds like Coach Weis and Co have found a good group of guys what have stood by their word thus far in joining KU Football for 2013.

Kirk 9 years, 10 months ago

The article already covers this point: "With such activity being the norm in college football these days..."

So, definitely not "ironic".

Doug Cramer 9 years, 10 months ago

Isaiah Johnson must be a stud if all these other schools are courting him at the last minute. Thanks for your loyalty Isaiah !!! Rock chalk Jayhawk !

kellerman411 9 years, 10 months ago

This shouldn't be anything new but unfortunately it is. We finally are recruiting people who other BCS schools want. Get used to it, people.

I gotta say that I am really looking forward to seeing next year's defense. I can't wait to see what Campo can do when he has some horsepower under the hood.

kellerman411 9 years, 10 months ago

Let me rephrase that. We are finally recruiting guys at the line of scrimmage that other BCS schools want. Gill did recruit some nice skill position guys, particularly running backs.

hawk316 9 years, 10 months ago

kellerman, thanks for pointing out that Gill actually brought in some talent during his brief tenure at KU. This point is often overlooked or underplayed amidst the deluge of Gill-bashing by some posters. Though Gill obviously fell short of expectations, he and his staff did find a few gems, and we should give credit where credit is due.

Bob Bailey 9 years, 10 months ago

There are still questions on our ability to teach the Belt Buckle Rule, Wrapping Up, and the right level for tackling. No runner will drag his tackler very far if his legs are held tight.

Barring some improvement, we're still in line for another 1 - 11.

KGphoto 9 years, 10 months ago

There was some real improvement on that last year. I expect a more noticeable improvement this year with the coaches that are in place. Just the fact that these kids have the same coaches two years in a row, and a year in the system to build on, is going to put them in better position to make textbook tackles.

VaJay 9 years, 10 months ago

Good grief. We have a top 40 rated prospect group, not counting Heaps, McCay & the D-lineman I can't think of. We could've won 4 games last season, and we WILL be better this fall. If we don't win at least four games, I'll be shocked. Have a little faith, please!

KGphoto 9 years, 10 months ago

To kellerman's point, we are blessed at RB. Weis wisely retained Reggie Mitchell but I haven't heard a peep about the position since Cox transferred. Any word on some RBs Reggie and Charlie have an eye on for next year?

I have heard the name Traevohn Wrench, but only in a sentence that included "no way he picks KU'.

Certainly there are some nice prospects Reggie is looking at.

gbjayhawk13 9 years, 10 months ago

did i miss something. when did cox transfer or did you mean turner baty

KGphoto 9 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, what ATL said. Since he transferred to KU. Sorry that was confusing.

Dyrk Dugan 9 years, 10 months ago

LAJayhawk....the difference is, the athlete himself re opened his recruiting. it's really not right when the player stays committed, and he still gets the calls.

Roy Williams in Bball talked about that when he landed Keith Langford. Keith was committed to Ole Miss, and he called Roy and asked if he was still interested. and Roy told him he would re recruit him, but only if he publicly declared he was decommitting from Ole Miss. only then would he re offer the schollie.

i know these athletes want to get this over with, but i would extend it as long as possible....then commit close to the end, that way there's none of this "they're trying to steal players" stuff.

it would be awesome to land Savage...after Koehler went to Arkansas, this would be a great final coup.

LAJayhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

And I guess you know why he reopened his recruitment? Couldn't have easily have been because other coaches were contacting him and he decided he wasn't certain about his choice? My guess is that you do not know the precise nature of Savage rethinking things.

But that being said, you might notice my second sentence, " Yes, I understand that Savage has "reopened" his recruitment..." You're correcting me on something I already pointed out.

Also, basketball is a completely different animal than football. Recruiting simply isn't handled in the same way in the two sports, so you really can't compare them.

This is how the game is played, and we play it too.

CrystalJones 9 years, 10 months ago

Agree completely with VaJay. We have a TOP 40 CLASS. That means only 39 teams are ahead of us, but a whole lot more are behind us.

Maybe that doesn't impress too many other people, but for KU that's pretty darn good. And when you combine that with the No. 1 head coach in the country (4 Super Bowl rings), a former NFL head coach as D-Coordinator; an All-Pro coaching the O-line; a Heisman candidate at running back; the best running back unit in the Big XII; and the best incoming QB in the all adds up to one conclusion:

KU is the rising football program in the state of Kansas. Despite their conference titles and all that, KSU currently has NONE of the above attributes in their sinking program. Old Man Snyder just signed up for another 5 years LOL. You can't last forever buddy!. KSU's glory days are over, as Charlie & Co. begin their own march towards a Big XII title.

texasjayhawk91 9 years, 10 months ago

I really, really like Big Chuck and his staff...but he is certainly not the "No. 1 head coach in the country".

CrystalJones 9 years, 10 months ago

I respectfully disagree. Just because he was fired from ND, misjudged Crist, and won only one game last year (including, admittedly, a few blowouts), doesn't negate the fact that he holds multiple Super Bowl rings. HCCW is, IMHO, a true football genius, especially on the offensive side, and we are so fortunate to have him. He is, in fact, the best head coach in college football -- he just needs a little more time to show it. And he's already doing that at KU with the stellar class that he just brought in.

They say that a school is either a basketball school or a football school and that you can't be both. We are about to become both.

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 10 months ago

I'd point out that DCDC has a ring or two as well, not to mention, i believe he has a college championship ring.

Needless to say, ever since HCCW has left the patriots they have never won a superbowl, so is it Belichek or CW that was the key? One could only wonder. I believe that Bill parcells key to one of his SB wins was with HCCW as well. Just saying.

canuckhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

I'm not sure if "CrystalJones" is authentic or not, but I like to read these posts like it is a KSU fan's version of Steven Colbert cheering on the Republican Party.

I can just imagine that little ESPN jayhawk shriek as CrystalJones jumps from a 20 foot plantform to spike a KU flag into mid-field of Memorial Stadium.

Emery 9 years, 10 months ago

After reading "CrystalJones", I would use the I or S word to describe this person.

Jim Jackson 9 years, 10 months ago

We are going to be a much improved team next year! With the talented JUCO overhaul and the RB tandem along with Heaps, we are going bowling!!

CrystalJones 9 years, 10 months ago

(I think we're going to do a lot better than that!)

canuckhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

Hold your horses on celebrating a TOP 40 class.

First, our recruits are mostly finalized and other are still adding, so we are likely to slide down the ranks a bit before this all ends. You'll remember that we were around no. 32 a few weeks ago and now we are no. 43 (rivals).

Second. Do you know our rival rankings from previous years? Lets ignore last year's no. 74 showing given that it was a coaching change year. What about 2011? No. 34. (um, thank you HCTG?). The three years prior? No. 55, no. 31 and no. 40.

Over the same time period Rivals gives the following to the purple cats (2013-2008): 53, 58, 68, 63, 92, 27.

What this means is that I put almost no credibility in the Rivals system for predicting on-the-field success. Especially when you get beyond the top 10.

I do find some optimism in the fact that many of our recruits are also getting offers from winning programs. I also think our team showed some development last year and was a few straight kicks and a handful of completions shy of a much less embarrassing, but nevertheless losing, record.

kellerman411 9 years, 10 months ago

Valid point, but the difference here is that we have JUCO guys now. Rivals notriously ranks Juco guys much lower than they deserve to be. Case in point, Dionte Savage has offers from several big dogs including Baylor and K-State and I believe he is currently given 0 stars from Rivals... He would roll a lot of the high school guys who are ranked much higher than him simply because he's more mature and experienced.

I follow recruiting incredibly close. What can I say, it's my cross to bare. This class is the best class we have had in at least 5 years, in my opinion. Mainly because of the quality of guys we have gotten at the line of scrimmage, particularly defensive lineman. I've never seen KU do that, EVER.

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 10 months ago

You clearly follow the the recruiting...I'd be interested in your assessment of the DL and OL compared to previous years...especially since that is where we have been embarrassed over the past 3-5 years.

kellerman411 9 years, 10 months ago

LOL pretty simple. We are bringing in 4 defensive lineman out of the top 100 JUCO players in the nation, including of course the #1 guy. Absolutely unprecedented at KU.

canuckhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

Thank you for helping to bolster my points that people should not get excited about rivals team rankings and that it is more encouraging to see the teams that also want our guys.

kellerman411 9 years, 10 months ago

I didn't bolster your points. Rivals rankings are very accurate with high school players. In the past, we recruited high school players, therefore our class ranking was probably accurate. This year, we have mostly JUCO guys who I previously stated are underrated by Rivals. So, the Rivals ranking isn't accurate and I believe our class is in high 20s.

You might check out 247, people say they rank JUCO guys much more accurately in relation to their high school counterparts.

canuckhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

I'm giving you a hard time. Of course I can tell you disagree with my claim. But I don't buy your argument because you have to qualify to say that rivals' accuracy is contingent on re-weighting the JUCO composition (meaning it is inaccurate on its face) and that you need to go to 247 to better understand the contribution from the JUCO recruits.

If you have to do a bunch of jiggery-pokery to evaluate your relative position on rivals team rankings, then that their team rankings are close to junk.

We've dominated KSU in terms of team rankings for the past 6 years--on average our ranking has been 14 positions better since 2008. You would never know it from looking at the field.

If you say that this is explained by the fact that rivals has undervalued the impact of their JUCO players, then my response is...exactly my point, they aren't valid. You just seem to be convinced that they are invalid in our favor this year. Maybe you're right.

Boouk 9 years, 10 months ago

New starting OLine projection for next season if we land Savage: LT-Spencer LG: Fusimalohi/Savage C: Smithburg RG: Fusimalohi/Savage RT: Sterling. With an OLine that big and the RB's we have, we should be able to run the ball very effectively next season.

KGphoto 9 years, 10 months ago

You don't think that Randall Dent, Dylan Admire, Gavin Howard and Damon Martin have a little bit of an edge of the new guys coming in? This is a complicated offense and Holsopple tactics seem to create a bit of a transition period for the new guys.

Personally I think Admire, at the very least, is gonna start at center.

Boouk 9 years, 10 months ago

Fusimalohi and Smithburg are both enrolling early and are top 100 JUCO prospects. Martin definitely has the talent, but I'm still concerned about why he didn't make the trip to TTU. With Savage going to OU, I now agree with you that Admire will start at C. At guard I think it'll come down to Fusimalohi, Smithburg, and Martin. If Martin doesn't have any character/work ethic/academic issues I think he starts at one of the guard spots. Howard, Dent, Beckmann and Connolly should provide quality depth.

Jim Jackson 9 years, 10 months ago

Savage committed to OU. Wow have we EVER beat OU for a prospect? Anytime they jump in we seem to lose out. SOBs

CrystalJones 9 years, 10 months ago

Actually, I think we won David Jaynes from OU and others. Long time ago, but just sayin'.

Emery 9 years, 10 months ago

Actually, we beat out Alabama for Mr. Jaynes in 1971. Just a few years ago.

Topher Peters 9 years, 10 months ago

OK, everyone cool it with all the "We're going bowling" and "Heisman candidate" talk. This team will be making leaps and bounds just to win a couple conference games this year. Don't put high expectations on this team just because they landed a decent recruiting class. Not to mention, there's still 2 more days left until they sign (we probably won't get all these guys). I sure hope good things are to come, but let's be realistic. Let's crawl and then think about walking.

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