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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Free State pipeline for KU football

Free State players Jay Dineen (50) and Ben Holiday (53) square up against each other on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 during a Baker University football camp at Lawrence High School.

Free State players Jay Dineen (50) and Ben Holiday (53) square up against each other on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 during a Baker University football camp at Lawrence High School.

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When Kansas football recruits have questions about the program and the city of Lawrence, Free State High senior linebacker Jay Dineen is more than happy to answer any questions.

Dineen, who made an oral commitment to the program in May, knows plenty about his future school. He grew up as a fan, traveling to KU’s Orange Bowl victory in 2008, and now he’s glad to join a couple of his old teammates.

The Jayhawks have four former Free State players in the program this season, including Dineen’s older brother, junior linebacker Joe Dineen Jr., who ranked second on the team last year with 86 tackles.

Along with Joe Dineen, freshmen defensive backs Bryce Torneden and Sam Skwarlo and sophomore linebacker Keith Loneker Jr., all earned first-team All-Sunflower League honors during their time in high school.

KU coach David Beaty said he wanted to make recruiting Kansas a priority, and perhaps there’s no better example than Free State.

“Clint Bowen is kind of the lead recruiter at our place, and he’s in there quite a bit,” FSHS coach Bob Lisher said of KU’s defensive coordinator. “Kids know who he is obviously, and that helps. Coach Beaty has made a commitment to Kansas kids, and I hope it continues because I think they’re doing a good job.”

Jay Dineen spoke to a few potential recruits at KU’s Friday Night Lights camp last weekend, a two-hour camp for athletes in high school to junior colleges — “Talking to all the coaches and some of the recruits just had me fired up and ready to go,” he said.

He played with Torneden and Skwarlo during the past two seasons, leading the Firebirds to the Class 6A state semifinals each year.

“It’s really cool thinking about that a bunch of kids in Lawrence could go in and change the program around,” Dineen said.

Dineen said talk between his former teammates usually turns to excitement and the potential chance of turning around their hometown team.

“At Free State, we’re a (successful) high school, and that’s what we want to do at KU,” Dineen said. “It’s down right now. Going in and hopefully getting us all on the field at the same time, it’d be huge to start winning.”

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