Column: KU football staff serious about in-state recruiting

Thursday, February 19, 2015

— In making his latest stop on a tour of the state, this one Thursday night at Sporting KC’s headquarters, first-year Kansas University football coach David Beaty shared more information with the surprisingly big crowd that shows he’s sincere about wanting more of a Kansas flavor to the roster.

Beaty’s assistants flanked him on the stage and he had each coach introduce himself and identify his recruiting area. Every one of them has a slice of Kansas as part of his recruiting responsibility. It will take more time for the love to come back in the other direction because the past two head coaches didn’t show much respect to the state and because Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has such a long head-start.

This past season, six Kansas State football players were named first- or second-team Associated Press All-Big 12. Five were from Kansas. Three arrived in Manhattan as walk-ons. Receiver Curry Sexton and offensive lineman Cody Whitehair came to K-State from Abilene. Center B.J. Finney is a native of Andale. Defensive lineman Ryan Mueller is from Leawood, linebacker Jonathan Truman from Kechi. Finney, Mueller and Truman were walk-ons out of high school.

The Wildcats have the advantage of selling winning tradition and have more in-state recruits than Kansas in recent years talking up what a great experience they had playing college football in Manhattan. To level that playing field, KU has to work twice as hard. Under the previous two regimes, they didn’t devote nearly as much recruiting manpower as Kansas State to covering the state. Now that Beaty has made every assistant accountable for knowing every potential scholarship and walk-on player in his Kansas area, it’s time to start closing the gap.

KU had made recruiting strides at home during Mark Mangino’s tenure. In the Orange Bowl victory vs. Virginia Tech, running back Brandon McAnderson, offensive linemen Adrian Mayes and Chet Hartley, defensive linemen Caleb Blakesley and John Larson, linebacker Mike Rivera and safeties Darrell Stuckey and Justin Thornton, all Kansas natives, started. Kerry Meier, Jake Sharp and several other Kansans participated.

Beaty and his staff were on board too late to make any in-state headway in the Class of 2015, other than on the important walk-on front, but the desire to do better at home appears genuine this time. Success won’t come quickly or easily, if at all, but the new staff does appear to be putting the right foundation in place.