Saturday, February 6, 2016


Tom Keegan: Kansas football recruiting will take some time

Kansas football coach David Beaty holds a news conference Wednesday, Feb. 3, to discuss the Jayhawks' 2016 class of signees.

Kansas football coach David Beaty holds a news conference Wednesday, Feb. 3, to discuss the Jayhawks' 2016 class of signees.


Sheahon Zenger hired David Beaty in part because he is well-connected in Texas, where he won a high school state championship as a head coach in the Dallas area, worked at Rice and Texas A & M as an assistant and brought with him a reputation as a strong recruiter.

So, naturally, Beaty cleaned up on signing day, bringing in A & M-caliber athletes, right? Wrong. It doesn’t work that way. In college football, the school that finishes last picks last for recruits after the winning programs fill their spots.

Just two paths to a slow, steady climb up the basement steps exist. The first involves evaluating well when trying to project which high school athletes bypassed by the Texas titans have the potential to develop into Big 12-caliber players.

Picking the right football prospects/projects requires knowing which high school coaches tend to oversell their players, which ones tell the truth, warts and all. It requires looking at the physical traits — body shape, limb length, agility, flexibility, raw strength, speed, quickness — and making an educated guess as to a player’s ceiling in each area. The same projection is required pertaining to a teenager’s football intelligence, emotional maturity and mental and physical toughness.

The second path involves the staff developing athletes in practice on a daily basis. On that front, this staff appeared up to the task because practices moved along at a crisp pace and were packed with consistent instruction delivered at in-your-face distance, but not in a way as to disgrace.

That Beaty’s second recruiting class didn’t crack the top 90 comes as no surprise. For one thing, by taking transfers that counted against the Class of 2016, 17 scholarships, not 25, were available. Plus, opposing coaches had at their disposal negative recruiting grist galore. An 0-12 record doesn’t excite anybody. And then there is the perception that Kansas is a basketball school, a tough rap to beat when every one of the other football coaches in the Big 12 earns more than twice the $800,000 salary Kansas pays Beaty. Iowa State’s Matt Campbell will earn $2 million in the first season of a six-year deal.

The KU Class of 2016 includes just one Kansas high school athlete, Free State High’s Bryce Torneden, who projects as a safety. That doesn’t make Beaty a hypocrite for saying the rebuilding must start at home and build outward. It just demonstrates how far ahead Kansas State has grown, based on longer-lasting relationships and more success stories involving unheralded prospects developing into all-conference players. The considerable time the Kansas staff devoted to recruiting the state will pay off, little by little, eventually.

Beaty took necessary long-range steps with this class, the most significant when he broke the heavy reliance on junior-college players. Two jucos (defensive tackles DeeIsaac Davis and Isi Holani) with two remaining years of eligibility and one (cornerback Stephan Robinson) with three years left were the only non-high school recruits, and all three will appear on the two-deep depth chart.

After years of recruiting junior-college offensive linemen and living to regret it, Kansas finally loaded up on high school blockers, by far the most significant development of this class. Four high school blockers received scholarships.

Even the staff can’t accurately predict which five high school recruits from the Class of 2016 will have the best careers at Kansas, but guessing is such an enjoyable exercise, so why not give it a try.

Here’s mine:

1 — Antoine Frazier, 6-5, 250, OT, Huffman, Texas: Beaty said of Frazier’s mother, “We almost recruited her. Bigger arms than most of our players.” Not only that, for such a big man, her son can really run.

“He stayed with us,” Beaty said of Frazier. “Just like a lot of these people in this class, they stayed with us even though at the very end, Baylor, a bunch of other teams around the state were coming after this guy.” As was the case with former Kansas All-American left tackle Anthony Collins, Frazier was a basketball standout before he became serious about football.

2 — Maciah Long, 6-2, 230, LB, Houston: At various stages of his recruitment he reportedly heard from schools such as Ohio State, Missouri and UCLA. He already has the build of a Big 12 linebacker and showed great leadership instincts at quarterback in high school. He attended the same high school as Dorance Armstrong, who showed so much promise during his freshman season.

3 — Kyle Mayberry, 5-11, 163, CB, Tulsa: Confident and fast enough to compensate for lack of size. Cornerbacks coach Kenny Perry did a great job of recruiting him and can’t wait to coach him up.

4 — Evan Fairs, 6-3, 182, WR, Richmond, Texas: Kansas hitting the Houston area so hard can only be a good thing. Fairs decommitted from Maryland and disappointed Illinois to light up the scoreboard for the Jayhawks.

5 — Isiah Bean, 6-4, 210, DE, Houston: A quarterback as a junior, he moved to defensive end his senior season and has a highlight video that makes it look as if he was born to play the position. He can really move and once he packs on the pounds could join Armstrong as a quick edge rusher.


Doug Cramer 6 years, 3 months ago

Beaty and his staff worked hard to get what they could get.

Keep Sawin wood. It's gonna be a marathon in bringing this program back.

Thanks Lew

Michael Lorraine 6 years, 3 months ago

Gill did a good job of recruiting so I wouldn't blame him. One would be hard pressed to find support for a third year but if he had returned for his third season instead of hiring Charlie I believe this program would be far better off than it is today.

Convenient hindsight on my part.

Mike Barnhart 6 years, 3 months ago

Very perceptive article, Tom! I think you're nailed the recipe for success. Only time will tell if our staff is up to the task.

Jim Stauffer 6 years, 3 months ago

Tom, Since Snyder did so much better than we did in Kansas, which of our recruits would you trade to him for which of his Kansas kids.

Do you think Rudzik or McCoy would replace anyone we signed?

Beaty is after Kansas kids. Amani decided not to accept his offer. We got Isaiah Bean. Pretty good deal. Amani was the one that got away but Snyder didn't get him.

Humpy Helsel 6 years, 3 months ago

That pretty much sums up the situation of KU football and the harvest which was been sown the previous 5-7 years. It will take time, support of the coach and his staff, and educated donors and key fan base who know we simply cannot change coaches any time soon. Beaty HAS to be the right hire and has to get the full 5 minimum. You have to be old enough to know Beaty and the KU program are right where Snyder was with the K-State program when he arrived in the early years. Believe me, those in purple old enough and honest enough would tell you the phrase which best fits from what the KSU program was when Snyder arrived and what it is now is, "who''da thunk it?!!! We can only hope our story turns out half as good as it did over in Manhattan, KS.

Michael Lorraine 6 years, 3 months ago

Beaty HAS to be the right hire. Truer words have never been spoken. We can not afford to fire a new coach. From this point on, no shortcuts.

Matt Bowers 6 years, 3 months ago

What about the kicker from Oregon? Is he a part of this team?

Michael Bennett 6 years, 3 months ago

Your article is only 1/2 accurate. Yes it is going to take some time and you have to recruit Texas, but Beatty is clearly blinded by the word Texas. Northern Iowa recruited KS better than KU. Ask Rivals if you don't believe me. Beatty does not appreciate what he has in KS. Christian Jegen, kansas Gatorade player of the year, Otis Taylor award winner, honors student & 4 yr. starter for the best team in the state didn't get an offer. Beatty would rather gamble on 2 from Texas than 3 from Kansas and that's wrong. Look at 2007 team KS/KC kids were on that team? And with all due respect, Torneden is not nearly as good as Jegen. If he ever sees the field on anything other than specials teams, then KU will be 2-10 or worse.

Michael Lorraine 6 years, 3 months ago

If they out recruited us it's only because they got Jegen, a player Beaty did not want. Does it really matter what state they come from?

David A. Smith 6 years, 3 months ago

You're basing it on results, not effort. How long have the coaches from Northern Iowa been in contact with Kansas coaches? What was their record last year? Beaty had the most success in the area he knows best- Texas. It takes time to develop relationships. His effort was not lacking. The results will come.

Randy Glenn 6 years, 3 months ago

Patience Jayhawk fans..we have to have ALOT of it. We have the right leader that will get us there and WE have to stick with it. We need a full class of recruits and just a couple of wins to get started and I`LL be there through it all !!!!!!! RCJH

David Kemp 6 years, 3 months ago

One takeaway from watching tapes is Harris fundamentally blocks and holds his blocks til the play is over and some of the other recruits did to. Haven't seen that from a ku line in 4 years. Hopefully coaches tweet this and we can see that on the field. This is the single biggest reason our teams of late can run nothing on offense.

Michael Bennett 6 years, 3 months ago

No David I'm not. I'm good friends with two of their dads.

Bob Bailey 6 years, 3 months ago

You might look at the coaches, too. KU hasn't played Defense for 5 years -- and now a good Jayhawk; but can't coach Defense.

Titus Canby 6 years, 3 months ago

Tom, how many scholarship players will we have in 2016? How does that compare to 2015? And how long until we're able to get to the full allotment of 80?

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 3 months ago

I'm looking forward to seeing how these Houston area kids perform. Of particular interest to me are Long and Bean. Long's background has been well documented. Bean played in our N. Houston area district, with The Woodlands HS, College Park HS, Conroe, etc. Bean made all district is a really skinny guy but he runs really well. He needs to add lots of weight and strength. It will be interesting how Bean and that kid from Lawrence who went OU turn out in about 3 years.

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