Les Miles and KU football open early signing period by adding to 2019 recruiting class

Valerian Agbaw, Malcolm Lee, Torry Locklin among KU signees

Newly-hired Kansas football coach Les Miles greets the Allen Fieldhouse crowd during halftime of the Jayhawks’ game against Stanford on Dec. 1, 2018.

Newly-hired Kansas football coach Les Miles greets the Allen Fieldhouse crowd during halftime of the Jayhawks’ game against Stanford on Dec. 1, 2018.

Originally published December 19, 2018 at 10:32 a.m., updated December 19, 2018 at 12:56 p.m.

Just a few hours into college football’s early signing period on Wednesday morning, the Kansas football program’s 2019 recruiting class began to grow.

New head coach Les Miles and his staff had eight verbal commitments in place entering the day, but added one target they had recruited hard the past several weeks right off the bat. Plus, the Jayhawks signed a quarterback prospect who first committed to former head coach David Beaty and his staff before 2018’s National Signing Day.

A high school cornerback from Powder Springs, Ga., Valerian Agbaw had his national letter of intent signed and in the hands of KU’s staff by 6:19 a.m.

Before 9 a.m. rolled around, QB Torry Locklin, from Rockdale, Texas, signed, as well.

By early afternoon, Miles, who was hired Nov. 18 to replace David Beaty as the program’s head coach, had 10 members of KU’s 11-player recruiting class signed. Miles told the Journal-World on the day he was introduced he expected his first recruiting class would include approximately 15 signees. Recruits can sign this week, through Friday, or wait until National Signing Day, on Feb. 6.

"We came into the recruiting season and had to hire a staff," Miles stated Wednesday, in a KU release.“As the staff came on board, we came up with goals of people we must have. We assembled needs and I am really proud of how they have done and all of the hard work they have put in. They have done a great job of assembling a small class, but one that is talented and addresses some very specific needs."

Rated a three-star prospect by Rivals, Agbaw, who recently received an in-home visit from KU defensive backs coach Chevis Jackson, visited Lawrence this past weekend.

A two-way player at McEachern High (Ga.) as well as a return specialist, Agbaw reportedly also picked up offers from Ball State, where Jackson used to coach, as well as Charlotte, Chattanooga, Southern Illinois, UMass and other non-Power 5 programs during his recruitment.

Locklin first announced his intentions to play at KU back in February, seemingly becoming a member of the previous regime’s 2018 recruiting class.

However, the two-star dual threat QB was asked by the coaches to wait a year. Miles and his new assistants decided to keep Locklin in the mix after the Texas native spent his first semester as a college student only taking classes at a junior college and not playing.

The QB will have four years of eligibility remaining when he joins the Jayhawks, as well as the potential to take a redshirt season.

In the 2018 recruiting cycle, Locklin reportedly had offers from Georgia Southern and New Mexico State, as well, with Iowa State showing some interest in him, too.

3-star juco D-lineman on board

Another previously uncommitted three-star prospect signed on with Miles’ and KU before noon on Wednesday.

Malcolm Lee, a defensive end from Iowa Western Community College, made what he described on Twitter as “an extremely difficult decision,” after considering a number of programs.

“But after much deliberation with myself, family and friends, I’ve decided to continue my collegiate career at the University of Kansas,” Lee wrote in a note he tweeted out shortly after signing.

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds, the Omaha, Neb., native chose KU over Central Florida, Florida Atlantic, Houston, Iowa, Louisville and other programs. He visited KU this past weekend.

Lee reportedly had an offer from South Dakota State as a high schooler at Bellevue West (Neb.) in the Class of 2017 before he enrolled at Iowa Western C.C.

During his shortened sophomore season, Lee made 10 total tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss while only playing in four games. As a true freshman in 2017, he played in 12 games, and finished with 43 tackles, five sacks and 10 TFLs.

Both Lee and former Missouri defensive lineman Caleb Sampson signed with KU on Wednesday, while prep D-lineman Da’Jon Terry had not yet signed as of Wednesday afternoon. Miles described the D-line additions as “very significant” in the team’s development.

“This is a small class that does not have the full numbers. It is the hand that we are dealt in terms of numbers, but in my opinion we put a great class together,” Miles said.

New look for KU’s offense?

According to the man in charge of turning this KU football program around, one of the team’s needs that had to be addressed quickly was at quarterback.

Miles, who hired Chip Lindsey from Auburn as his offensive coordinator, praised the abilities of 3-star QB Thomas MacVittie, whose college career began at Pitt.

"We ended up with a great junior college quarterback,” Miles said of the 6-5 pro-style passer, “arguably the best pocket-mobile quarterback there was, in Thomas MacVittie.”

While Miles said the Jayhawks have “really good receivers,” he noted the 2019 roster didn’t appear to have an abundance of “the tall guys you are used to seeing in the SEC.”

KU’s head coach said the staff addressed that offensive need by signing a pair of receivers from Iowa Central C.C.: 6-4 Ezra Naylor and 6-2 Andrew Parchment.

“That will certainly make that quarterback position that much more effective,” Miles predicted, “with a nice tall place to look to throw the football.”

Landing local talent

Miles reiterated Wednesday his “foremost” desire to recruit and sign players from not only inside the Sunflower State’s borders and in the Kansas City metro area, but also within a “500-mile footprint.”

While those endeavors may turn out to be further realized in the months and years ahead, Miles pointed to signing three-star safety Jayden Russell, from Class 5A state champion St. Thomas Aquinas, and two-star Andale tight end Mason Fairchild as a step in the right direction.

"We want to recruit Kansas. We took two high school kids from Kansas,” Miles said of Russell and Fairchild, “who are good players and are going to have great careers. There are some really talented guys right here in Kansas and they want to stay home. This is a great education. This is the place where the number one basketball team is playing. Athletics happen here. Quality academics happen here. It is an easy place to want to represent."

Additions to secondary

Miles also stated his pleasure with KU’s ability to sign three defensive backs, between “a really good safety” in Russell, and cornerbacks Agbaw and Justin Ford.

“Those guys are really good,” Miles added of Agbaw and Ford, a 6-foot juco corner, “and will have the ability, should we want to step up on and play off hand jam and challenge that quarterback.”

All three defensive backs were rated three-star prospects by Rivals.

No Starks for KU

KU missed out on signing the most talented prospect Miles and his staff had hoped to bring to Lawrence.

A four-star linebacker from Louisiana who entered the day committed to LSU, Donte Starks stuck with the Tigers at his signing day ceremony in New Orleans. Starks said KU was his other finalist upon visiting Lawrence earlier this month.

Lawrence targets headed to Manhattan

Although KU made a push since Miles’ arrival to recruit a couple of Free State High standouts playing in the Jayhawks’ back yard, both Keenan Garber and Jax Dineen signed with Kansas State on Wednesday afternoon.

Garber is a three-star receiver who has been committed to the Wildcats since June.

Dineen — the younger brother of KU linebackers Joe and Jay Dineen — is a three-star fullback who entered the day uncommitted.

KU football’s 2019 recruits

(ratings from Rivals; √ = signed)

√ 3-star St. Thomas Aquinas S Jayden Russell (6-3, 190)

— Helped St. Thomas Aquinas go undefeated in 2018.

— Named Class 5A All-State by the Wichita Eagle.

— Playing this week at the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s World All-Star Bowl, in Mexico City.

√ 3-star McEachern H.S. (Ga.) CB Valerian Agbaw (5-10, 170)

— Known for his speed in the open field, Agbaw played cornerback and receiver and returned kickoffs and punts at McEachern High.

√ 3-star Mesa C.C. (Ariz.) QB Thomas MacVittie (6-5, 225)

— Named No. 2 pro-style QB by JCGridiron.com.

— Passed for 1,064 yards, with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions in six games at Mesa in 2018.

— Will arrive at KU as a redshirt junior, after spending two years at Pitt, before going the juco route.

√ 3-star Iowa Central C.C. WR Ezra Naylor (6-4, 210)

— Caught 19 passes for 292 yards and a touchdown at Iowa Central in 2018.

— Will join KU as a redshirt junior, after sitting out his first college season at Kennesaw State in 2016 and playing there in 2017.

√ 3-star Golden West Coll. (Calif) CB Justin Ford (6-1, 180)

— Made 31 tackles, three interceptions and four pass breakups for Golden West in 2018.

— Chose KU over UNLV, BYU and Liberty.

— Will be a junior and eligible for a redshirt with three years left to play two seasons at KU.

√ 3-star Iowa Western C.C. DE Malcolm Lee (6-5, 270)

— Racked up 43 tackles, 10 TFLs and five sacks in 2017, as a true freshman.

— Eligible to use 2018 as a redshirt season, Lee will be a redshirt sophomore for KU in 2019.

√ 2-star Coahoma C.C. (Miss.) DL Caleb Sampson (6-4, 285)

— Recorded 28 tackles and 2.5 sacks for Coahoma in 2018, to go with 5.5 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.

— Signed with Missouri out of high school, in 2017.

— Set to join KU as a redshirt junior next season.

√ 2-star Iowa Central C.C. WR Andrew Parchment (6-2, 185)

— Originally from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Parchment’s college football career began at Northern Illinois, where he redshirted his first year before playing in 2017.

— Didn’t play in Iowa Central’s final five games of 2018, but caught 23 passes for 227 yards and scored two touchdowns.

— Slated to be a redshirt junior at KU in 2019.

• 2-star Meridian H.S. (Miss.) DL Da’Jon Terry (6-4, 330)

— Committed to KU just two days before the early signing period.

— Injured his junior year, 2018 was Terry’s first full season playing football.

√ 2-star Andale High TE Mason Fairchild (6-5, 250)

— Played defensive end and tight end as Andale went 11-1 his senior season.

— Selected to play in 2019 Kansas Shrine Bowl.

√ 2-star Rochdale H.S. (Texas) QB Torry Locklin (6-2, 195)

— Led Rockdale to a 13-3 mark and the Texas 3A state title in 2017.

— Finished prep career with 2,536 passing yards, 2,434 rushing yards and 59 total touchdowns.

— Father, Kerry Locklin, is the defensive line coach for the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts.