The early portion of June marks the beginning of the final chapter of the transition of the 2015 recruiting class, whose members will pack their bags, say goodbye to mom and dad and leave home for their new lives as college football players.
For the Kansas University football program, that means the addition of 16 new bodies — most of them freshmen — to help add depth and talent to the crew that finished up spring football six weeks ago.
Despite the June arrival, several of the new faces figure to have an immediate opportunity for playing time, as starters or reserves, and a few of them could make a significant impact on the thin and unproven KU roster.
Most of the newcomers will arrive this weekend, with the bulk of the rookies filtering into town Saturday and today. From there, they’ll meet with the coaching staff, get reacquainted with the strength coaches and prepare to move full speed ahead into summer conditioning, which begins early next week. That time with head strength coach Je’Ney Jackson and his staff, along with summer classes, which begin Tuesday, will dominate the next eight weeks until the Jayhawks open preseason camp in early August.
Since it has been four months since signing day, here’s a quick refresher on a few of the June arrivals who could make the biggest impact for the Jayhawks in the coming months:
— QB Carter Stanley — The 6-foot-2, 188-pound mobile Vero Beach High graduate figures to jump right into the competition for the team’s quarterback job. Even if he doesn’t win it, he seems destined to have an important role right away.
— DE Dorance Armstrong Jr. — Both in terms of his skill set and the list of schools after him, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound pass-rushing specialist from Houston seems like the best pick-up in the 2015 recruiting class. The Jayhawks are talented and deep at Armstrong’s true position, but he might be too good to keep off the field.
— RB Taylor Martin — The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Dunbar High grad from Fort Worth, Texas, has the skills and size to handle a significant workload should question marks at running back force him into action immediately. DeAndre Mann and Taylor Cox are back but are recovering from injuries, and Corey Avery’s future remains uncertain because of discipline issues. That leaves Martin and fellow newcomer Ke’aun Kinner, a spring arrival, as two pretty important pieces.
— DB Marnez Ogletree — 5-foot-10, 199-pound Fullerton College transfer was a late addition, and he’s going to have to play for the KU defense to have a shot. Long, explosive and versatile, Ogletree, if he produces, can go a long way toward helping the Jayhawks replace 2015 NFL Draft picks JaCorey Shepherd and Dexter McDonald.
— DB Tyrone Miller — Another late pick-up, the 6-foot, 180-pound Miller has great speed, good coverage skills and appears most comfortable in the type of man-to-man defense the Jayhawks figure to play a lot this season. Like that of Ogletree, his development will be a key component to how well — and how quickly — the KU defense can move on from last year’s solid secondary.
— LB Osaze Ogbebor — The only linebacker in the 2015 class could find that distinction leads to immediate playing time at one of the Jayhawks’ thinnest positions. At 6-foot, 215 pounds with room to grow, Ogbebor already has shown an ability to run and take on and shed blocks normally not seen in high school linebackers. His nose for the ball could make him a candidate for one of the biggest early surprises.
— WRs Jeremiah Booker, Emmanuel Moore and Steven Sims — It’s unlikely that all three will play as true freshmen, but it’s almost certain that at least one of them will. Which one remains a mystery and depends upon how each performs during summer conditioning and preseason camp. But all three, while bringing something a little different to the offense, have good hands and can make plays after the catch. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Booker is from College Station, Texas, and may be the most familiar with the coaching staff, having been around KU coach David Beaty and receivers coach Klint Kubiak for the past few years.