If you think the Kansas University football team lacks talent this season, wait until next year.
On paper, at least, the roster looks even worse.
Compare the 11 best seniors to the 11 best returning players, and it’s difficult not to reach the conclusion that the Jayhawks will face even longer odds in 2015.
Gone, in order of value to this season’s team: 1. Ben Heeney, 2. JaCorey Shepherd, 3. Dexter McDonald, 4. Michael Reynolds, 5. Jimmay Mundine, 6. Nick Harwell, 7. Keon Stowers, 8. Tony Pierson, 9. Ngalu Fusimalohi, 10. Mike Smithburg, 11. Trevor Pardula.
These 11 players with Div. I experience project as the best of the 2015 squad:
1. Corey Avery: The true freshman who at various times was offered scholarships by Ohio State, Texas and Nebraska has had to work hard for his yards, thanks to defenses loading up against the run. Still, he leads the team in rushing yards (417) and touchdowns (three) and is averaging 4.3 yards per carry.
2. De’Andre Mann: Quick and tough, the junior has rushed for 362 yards and averages 4.8 per carry.
3. Jake Love: He plays with the same crazed style as Heeney and although not as fast as Heeney does have good speed, which helps him compensate for below-average size for a linebacker. Solid player.
4. Isaiah Johnson: Junior safety has not matched performance of his sophomore season, when he was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.
5. Andrew Bolton: Explosive defensive tackle has come on of late and has a chance to have a big senior season.
6. Michael Cummings: Not fast enough to turn the corner on runs, he has upgraded the offense since taking over at quarterback because he’s smart, decisive and throws an accurate-enough long ball to make the defense respect him as a passing threat.
7. Kent Taylor: Tight end came to KU from Florida with reputation as a talented pass-catcher not terribly interested in blocking.
8. Rodriguez Coleman: Wide receiver won’t get to showcase talent unless he avoids more disciplinary sanctions.
9. Fish Smithson: Safety’s instincts praised by interim coach Clint Bowen. So far, he has looked better against the run than pass.
10. Nigel King: Maryland transfer knows how to get open and plays a more physical style than most wide receivers.
11. Tevin Shaw: Hard-hitting nickel back makes plays, but needs to polish pass-coverage skills.
Clearly, Kansas can’t afford a third consecutive bad hire if it is to attain respectability this decade.