Friday, December 11, 2015

Lawrence High’s Amani Bledsoe to visit KU football this weekend

Lawrence High Lineman Amani Bledsoe has been named Sunflower League MVP.

Lawrence High Lineman Amani Bledsoe has been named Sunflower League MVP.


Four-star Lawrence High defensive end Amani Bledsoe will be making an official visit to Kansas University this weekend, according to a source with knowledge of Bledsoe's recruitment.

The news is huge for Kansas, which remains very much in the mix for one of its top targets in the Class of 2016. The 6-foot-5, 272-pound Bledsoe, who had his pick of just about any school in the country, also is still considering Oklahoma, Baylor, Oregon and North Carolina State.

Because of the KU campus' proximity to his home, it was not known whether Bledsoe would use an official visit on the Jayhawks or take his fifth and final tour somewhere else, perhaps UCLA. But news surfaced Thursday night that the top prospect in the Sunflower State and the 154th ranked player in the nation in the Class of 2016 would give Kansas and head coach David Beaty his full and undivided attention this weekend. In return, Bledsoe figures to receive some serious first-class treatment from Kansas. It is believed he will be the only official visitor at Kansas this weekend, which will give Beaty and his entire staff plenty of time to convince the recent Buck Buchanan winner as the best lineman in the Kansas City metro area why staying home is the right move.

One of the biggest factors in Bledsoe's recruitment is the presence of Clint Bowen as KU's defensive coordinator. Bledsoe has become a big fan of Bowen, a fellow Lawrence High grad himself, and would work closely with him if he came to Kansas.

Bledsoe led the Lions to a 10-1 record this season and the school’s first Sunflower League title since 1993. He had 89 tackles, eight sacks and more than 40 pancake blocks as an offensive lineman. He won the league’s Andre Maloney Most Valuable Player award, a personal goal he’s had since his sophomore year.

“It’s been really special to see all of the hard work pay off,” said Bledsoe, a first-team all-state pick. “It’s really nice.”

Bledsoe is the fourth Lawrence player to win the Buck Buchanan award, along with James Myers (1993), Nate Williams (’94) and Lee Myers (’95). He was given a large trophy, and the school received $1,500.

“It’s special,” Bledsoe said. “As soon as we went to the Simone Awards, I found out I was a finalist. I was really hoping for the best for me to win it. My family is real proud of me, coaches, friends, so it’s exciting.”

It's still a little early in the process for Bledsoe, who did very little with regard to his recruitment during the season, and it seems likely that he won't make a decision until closer to the Feb. 3 signing day.

“I’m still trying to take it slow,” Bledsoe said on Thursday afternoon. “I might need to hurry up and make a decision because I’m kind of stressed out with all of this stuff. We’ll see.”

“I’m getting a couple of good gut feelings,” Bledsoe added, “so we’ll see how it all plays out.”

Whichever way he decides to go, it's more clear than ever that KU is very much in the running for Bledsoe's services.

“At the end of the day, he wants to be somewhere he can make a difference, really help someone," Bledsoe's mother, Elaine Cannefax, recently told “Do you want to go help keep something going that has been forever and ever? Or help someone struggling and do something monstrous? He's that type of kid. He's not selfish. He likes the glitz and the glory, but he loves a challenge.”

— Journal-World preps reporter Bobby Nightengale contributed to this story.


Brett McCabe 6 years, 5 months ago

Fantastic news and, if he likes challenges, then we just may have one for him.

If you look at KU's commitments so far, we have a 3-star DT and a 3-star DE ready-to-go. if you add Bledsoe, then I think that you could say this staff has done as good a job to address the defensive line as anyone could ever expect. On the flip-side, they also have two OL's with 3-star ratings committed. So, the lines are being addressed very effectively - based on commitments and recruiting rankings.

If Bledsoe were to commit to KU, he could help us hold our current commitments and he might influence some others to join on. He would be valuable to the program in so many ways.

Would love to see Amani in the Crimson and Blue next year. Everyone, send some good energy at Lawrence this weekend!

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 5 months ago

Bledsoe and Armstrong would go a long way towards anchoring the KU defensive line. As crazy as it sounds for a team that needs so much, Bledsoe seems to be a key must recruit to rebuild KU football.

Dale Rogers 6 years, 5 months ago

A guy like this could be a cornerstone for the future, a name we'd all look back at someday and fondly say "Remember Amani Bledsoe?" like today we say "Remember Todd Reesing, John Riggins, John Hadl, Otto Schnellbacher?"

Michael Maris 6 years, 5 months ago

Imagine that, Clint Bowen playing a big factor in the recruitment of Amani Bledsoe.

I sure hope that Bledsoe makes the Jayhawks his #1 choice. I know the pull to go to OU is heavy. We've seen enough former verbally committed players change their mind and go south to Norman. But, Bledsoe commitment and signing would be a great stride forward for Coach Beaty, Bowen and Thibodeaux.

Maybe, just maybe, it would even convince Isaiah Simmons to join the rebuilding of the program. There's a lot of local talent in NE Kansas that can be harvested and coached up (even if they're walk-ons, red-shirted, etc.).


Gerry Butler 6 years, 5 months ago

Like the statement or comment I should say, kind of stuck out. Would you want to go to a place and keep sometning going that's been going forever OR go some where and possible do something monsterous, I ;like that I think that was his mother saying that, can anyone read anything into that? ROCK CHALK ALL DAY LONG BABY

Dirk Medema 6 years, 5 months ago

It would be even cooler if Amani made his decision soon and was able to recruit Isaiah and a few other to KU.

Thibodeaux was a Sooner, so it would be interesting for him to recruit against his alma mater, and might give an interesting perspective on playing there (or any top program) vs. what Beaty & Co. are building at KU.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 5 months ago

Is Isaiah Victor's brother, or just a name & Location coincidence?

David A. Smith 6 years, 5 months ago

Amani- the Ring of Honor in Memorial Stadium is calling. I know I said it before, but it bears repeating: if you stay- now more than ever- you'll have a chance to be forever remembered...a legend. Can you imagine being introduced at Kansas football and basketball games over and over through the years, to the deafening applause of grateful fans that appreciate you in ways that only happen at.......home. Your home. Some opportunities are "once in a lifetime." This is that opportunity. When a person is loyal- and gives their best to their friends, neighbors, hometown and home state- its NEVER forgotten. That will open doors that can't be opened anywhere else, because you are already family. Step into Kansas.

Michael Maris 6 years, 5 months ago

Why go to OU, when they still talk about Lee Roy Selmon.

You could become KU's own Lee Roy Selmon!

David A. Smith 6 years, 5 months ago

....with a top notch education on top of that. KU- the Stanford of the Midwest.

Len Shaffer 6 years, 5 months ago

Much as I love KU, I believe Northwestern is the Stanford of the Midwest.

David Williams 6 years, 5 months ago

The aspect that differentiates Stanford from the Eastern Ivies is its well-rounded nature, both academics and athletics - ALL athletics, both Mens and Womens sports. The closest to that model in the Midwest is the University of Texas, for the same reasons. NW would be more similar to an Ivy.

Len Shaffer 6 years, 5 months ago

Fair enough -- although NW's football program is certainly better than the Ivies.

Len Shaffer 6 years, 5 months ago

Keeping my fingers crossed; signing Bledsoe would be HUGE news!

Lanny Welch 6 years, 5 months ago

This is the best news I've seen today. Amani you'd look great in crimson and blue!! Rock Chalk!!

Austin Lopez 6 years, 5 months ago

I don't want to ruin anyone recruiting happiness but over the years I always wondered why Kansas football coaches never recruited up north, which is where I stay, Buffalo-Rochester area to be exact. Every year there's 30-40 D1 coaches in the Buffalo, NY and Rochester, NY areas, and there's never any Kansas coaches. There's coaches from UB to UTEP to Notre Dame to Ohio State. Now I see why are roster is full of mostly D2 kids. There's kids like this young man all over around my area, and also to mention there's 2 power house football programs near me. Canisius,who have produced dozen of D1 prospects over the last 5 years (Also ranked nationally by USA Today) and Aquinas, who by the way had 10 D1 prospects on there team this year and also are ranked nationally. And every year I wonder where are the Kansas coaches? Do they know how to identify D1 Talent? If I was them I would be taking the Buffalo, NY and Rochester, NY areas by storm, Buffalo has produced 20 D1 commits over the last 5 years and Rochester has produced 21, also there dozen of guys in the 2017 class who have not yet committed, that's 40 D1 commits over the last 5 years. There's no reason why there shouldn't be Kansas coaches in this area.

Clarence Haynes 6 years, 5 months ago

Undoubtedly, there are great players in the upstate NY area as there are great players in the DC area where I reside. This KU staff however, seems not to be a "national recruiter", preferring to focus on Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and other nearby states. The exceptions might be some Florida recruits and western juco players primarily situated in California. With some winning seasons under KU's belt, this might change.

Brett McCabe 6 years, 5 months ago

Recruiting is, at its essence, sales and marketing. Successful marketing usually employs a good amount of focus. Try to be all things to all people and you end up being nothing to no one. At some point, you have to choose.

Mason built up his teams by focusing on areas he had mined at Ohio State and Kent. Beaty is going to mine the areas and the relationships he has developed as a coach and recruiter in Texas.

A bonus in recruiting kids in the area is that their families can come watch them play - which is a bigger deal than many recognize. Though there are exceptions, many kids want their parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends in the stands.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 5 months ago

"sales and marketing" and relationship.

The reason for some western recruiting is the same as you mentioned wrt Mason. Likens and Yenser have developed relationships there, and wisely will continue to use those relationships to bring players a couple hours east.

Jim Stauffer 6 years, 5 months ago

And the move from Buffalo and Rochester to Kansas as you fly over 150 FB programs closer to you in better shape than ours is so logical that one cannot understand why coaches at KU don't make it a priority.

Deb Fitch 6 years, 5 months ago

I think we have seen enough to know that Beaty can get it done for a long time here if and that's a big IF he can get the kind of recruits to do it with. That has to start at home. This roster needs to be filled with a lot of Kansas young men. They might not be rated as high as the coasts and Texas but they can turn into just as good a player. It has to start with convincing these Lawrence boys they will be legends if they stay and turn this around. I hope he is one that will open the flood gates!!

Sam Walters 6 years, 5 months ago

I completely agree. One doesn't need to look far at how a state of Kansas program can be successful with state of Kansas kids. Bill Snyder has done it for 20+ years with a roster dominated by young men from KS. Our coaches need to go beyond the obvious players like Amani (4 stars, recruited by everyone) and offer some of the players we pass over year after year that go on to be very successful at KSU. Just for example look at three of the all conference players from K-State's roster this year, Morgan Burns, Cody Whitehair, and Boston Stiverson. None were offered scholarships by KU coaches. I have faith in this staff, but I'd really like to see a greater emphasis put on locking down the home front.

Steve Grimm 6 years, 5 months ago

Well???!!!? Any rumor of how well things went this past week??

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 5 months ago

We have some really good football players coming in next year and Bledsoe's signing could make this a "game-changing" group.

Maciah Long, the Houston Northshore QB, is slated to be a LB. Long is one heck of a football player. As a QB, he has led Northshore to the 6A Div 1 State Championship game this Saturday.

Mike Hart 6 years, 4 months ago

So Amani Bledsoe visits KU.. and in over 2 weeks.. .there has been absolutely ZERO on how it went? Matt Tait.. where are you?

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