Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Les Miles taking over KU football program that will continue to lag in scholarship numbers

Kansas offensive lineman Hakeem Adeniji (78) hugs Kansas running back Deron Thompson (26) as time runs out in the fourth quarter on Friday, Nov. 23, 2018 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas offensive lineman Hakeem Adeniji (78) hugs Kansas running back Deron Thompson (26) as time runs out in the fourth quarter on Friday, Nov. 23, 2018 at Memorial Stadium.


On several occasions during his introductory press conference, new University of Kansas football coach Les Miles mentioned the number 85.

It’s an important figure for FBS programs, because it represents the maximum total of scholarship players a team is allowed to carry in a season.

And it is a number KU has been chasing since long before Miles even thought about joining the Jayhawks.

In the course of his first day on the job, on Nov. 18, Miles was asked for his thoughts on the health of the program he was inheriting, particularly as it related to scholarships.

“I recognize the key piece for us is to get our scholarships up to 85 and 85 with quality recruits, not 85 with turned and given to walk-ons that were not necessarily deserving,” Miles began, adding he isn’t opposed to placing walk-ons who prove themselves on scholarship. “But getting to 85 and doing so with quality recruits and guys that can play. That to me is the biggest battle.”

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As Miles referenced in his response, KU won’t be anywhere close to an ideal standing with its scholarship players in 2019, his first season in charge.

While his predecessor, David Beaty, rarely identified specific players as walk-ons or scholarship athletes publicly, some educated guesswork reveals next year’s roster could only include approximately 53 returning true scholarship players — not walk-ons who were awarded a scholarship after contributing to the program.

Looking at KU’s 2018 roster, it appears Beaty’s last team had roughly 11 freshmen, 14 sophomores and 28 juniors (53 total) among its recruited scholarship players.

However, Miles won’t even be able to add the NCAA maximum of 25 scholarship athletes to his 2019 recruiting class. Miles told the Journal-World on the day he was introduced that he expects to be able to offer about 15.

Over the past few years, Beaty and his staff utilized blueshirts, athletes who didn’t sign letters of intent but joined the program on scholarship and counted toward the following year’s recruiting class. That strategy is finally catching up with KU.

So if all of the nonsenior scholarship players stay healthy and decide to remain with the program instead of transferring, the Jayhawks should have about 68 true scholarship athletes on the team in Miles’ first season, if you include 15 2019 signees.

This past July, Beaty stated that when he took over the program in December of 2014, KU only had 39 scholarship players.

“By the time we hit spring ball, we had 28,” Beaty added.

It’s worth noting that a football program’s scholarship numbers are always at their lowest in the spring, when the previous year’s seniors are gone and the full incoming signing class has yet to arrive. If Beaty’s numbers are accurate, KU would have fielded a roster that included roughly 53 scholarship players (including the 25 members of the 2015 recruiting class) in his first season leading the Jayhawks.

KU’s scholarship numbers suffered unusual blows prior to Beaty’s arrival, with players leaving for various reasons as the program transitioned from head coach Mark Mangino, to Turner Gill, to Charlie Weis, to Beaty.

Now, it appears Miles will need some time to get the Jayhawks on a level playing field with the rest of the Big 12 in terms of scholarship athletes, because the program will lose roughly 28 more when next season’s seniors exhaust their eligibility.

If KU were able to sign 25 players in both 2020 and 2021, it still wouldn't be able to zero in on its target of 85 before the 2022 season, which would be year four of Miles' five-year contract.

KU’s projected returning scholarship players for 2019

2018 juniors (28):

OL Hakeem Adeniji

DT Jelani Brown

CB Julian Chandler

WR Dayton Charlot

DT Codey Cole

CB Hasan Defense

WR Evan Fairs

LB Denzel Feaster

OL Kevin Feder

OL Antione Frazier

CB Elmore Hempstead

RB Khalil Herbert

CB Elijah Jones

DE Azur Kamara

S Mike Lee

OL Reuben Lewis

OL Api Mane

CB Kyle Mayberry

DE Willie McCaleb

OL Clyde McCauley

S Jeremiah McCullough

DE Darrius Moragne

S Shaq Richmond

TE James Sosinski

QB Carter Stanley

DE Najee Stevens-McKenzie

S Bryce Torneden

OL Andru Tovi

2018 sophomores (14):

OL Earl Bostick

OL Malik Clark

OL Cam Durley

S Davon Ferguson

WR Quan Hampton

OL Chris Hughes

LB/DE Kyron Johnson

K Liam Jones

QB Miles Kendrick

LB Dru Prox

WR Stephon Robinson Jr.

S Ricky Thomas

P Kyle Thompson

RB Dom Williams

2018 freshmen (11):

LB Kenny Bastida

LB Jay Dineen

OL Joey Gilbertson

CB Corione Harris

OL Jacobi Lott

RB Ryan Malbrough

OL Jalan Robinson

CB Robert Topps

RB Pooka Williams

OL Nick Williams

WR Takulve Williams


Dirk Medema 3 years, 10 months ago

The blueshirt strategy is far from "finally catching up with us". It is just as much the reason we even had about 70 scholarship players last year as it will be the reason we only have about 70 next year. To have not used blueshirts last year would not have increased the number of scholarships for next year. It would only have decreased the number for last year.

The reality is that Coach Miles could blueshirt some players next year and have slightly better numbers than last year. Hakeem's class is the bubble we need to get past as far as numbers so probably better to take a little hit to the numbers this year and soften the impact of that class leaving. After that we can make up the difference in one year.

The real difference and most important victory (Matt 😉) will be in higher quality recruits.

Len Shaffer 3 years, 10 months ago

The other real difference will be in higher-quality coaching.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 10 months ago

Wasn't most of the starting OL last year Blueshirts?

Huge success that Coach Beaty was able to achieve what he did with the roster.

3 years, 10 months ago

yes, dirk: "huge success" fhcdb couldnt beat a FCS team, @ home, w/o 1 player's presence. truly, "huge success"!! we actually should have kept him! 😳🙄👌👏

Mike Hart 3 years, 10 months ago

Last year...the average scoring margin for opponents vs KU was 29.5 points. This year was 6.5 points. Criticize all you want about wins/losses...but that is marked improvement from 2017 to 2018. Oh, and that ONE player you are talking about (Pooka Williams)... is only 23rd in the country in rushing... 2nd in the Big 12 despite missing a game. If you don't think we would have beat Nicholls State with Pooka.. then you're not being honest. We lost in overtime without him.

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 10 months ago

Beaty made it so we count almost wins as successes. I'm excited for Les Miles.

Jonathan Allison 3 years, 10 months ago

to Mike's credit, he said improvement... not success. Sometimes close losses are an indicator of future success. Much different situation, but look at 2006 vs. 2007. In 2006 we went 6-6 and didn't get a bowl game. We blew leads and lost close games to teams like Baylor, OSU, TAMU, KSU, mizzou... In 2007 we played the same schedule and went 12-1. That success didn't come out of nowhere. The building blocks were there, then when we brought in Ed Warriner's offense and unleashed Todd Reesing we turned the corner. But the signs were there in 2006 of a 6-6 team that was much better than their record.

What I saw this year was results starting to shift into the right direction. Beaty may have been able to right the Titanic, but it was too little, too late. He had to go because everyone knew that his job was not secure. Keeping Beaty this year would have been a disaster because he won't be able to recruit if he's just hanging on to his job by the skin of his teeth. It would have gone back downhill fast for Beaty. But there are signs of a team that is better than their 3-9 record. The pieces aren't quite all there yet, and they need some help, but I'm cautiously optimistic that Les Miles can bring in some help.

Al Martin 3 years, 10 months ago

I agree. By the eye test, this team was improved. The players were better, and the results (Nicholls being a huge exception) trended better. I remember thinking before the K-State game, that if we won, we'd have a 4-8 finish and two conference wins. If you would have told me that result prior to the year, I would have thought was some level of progress, even if it was in Beaty's fourth year. But, we didn't, and Nicholls did happen, so that's that.

Also, regardless of the team's progress, Beaty made the same in game forehead-slapping mistakes that he made in his first year. His in game coaching just never improved.

So, yeah, what happened needed to happen, and cautious optimism is about right.

Dane Pratt 3 years, 10 months ago

Red shirts, blue shirts, green shirts, grey shirts, walk-on’s. Can we make the roster more confusing?

According to KU Athletics, we’ll have 29 sophomores, 23 juniors and 34 seniors for the 2019 season. 11 of those returning have started and 18 have played as backups.

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 10 months ago

I think the article is pointing out that some of those individuals are walk-ons that might not have had a scholarship, except we ran out of available players to offer. It sounds like the process was compounded because we have more than 25 leaving, and we can only offer 15 players. The system will get worse before it gets better, next year we have to replace 34 seniors and can offer only 25.

David Kemp 3 years, 10 months ago

I think it was pretty clear Beaty sold us forward particularly this year with judos and transfers to make a last ditch effort to make this season a success. Unfortunately all the close games didn’t go our way. At this point I would rather see miles recruit numbers only if it gets us quality players, otherwise we keep loading with players who fade into the sunset. Replacing what we lost will be difficult, all American 4 year lb, 3 year starting lb, best dline player, top 2 receivers, a kicker and probably the easiest a new qb.

David Robinett 3 years, 10 months ago

Depth and experience on OL bodes well for Pooka, Don and Khalil

Dirk Medema 3 years, 10 months ago

Pizzaboy - No one is saying that the FCS losses were a success or even that Beaty should still be the coach. Not even close. It is incredibly ignorant to ignore the successes we did have over the past 4 years. There weren't enough but we have most certainly come a long long way.

Anyone with any memory at all can remember that rebuilding the roster was a huge task 4 years ago. We're halfway there. Yes, even that is a success, especially with so many people calling for his head - even before he began.

Brett McCabe 3 years, 10 months ago

I'm thankful for Keegan, Tait and Smith for doing the work in pulling back the curtain on the Zenger/Weis/Beaty debacle. The numbers were hidden because Zenger did not want the fans to know how badly his first hire had performed in managing the roster. And, after four more years of Beaty's mismanagement, the situation has not been improved. Don't think for a second that Long didn't look at these numbers while he was also looking at empty aluminum bleachers on Saturday.

It's good to finally have an accurate baseline - available to us only due to the too-late firings of both Beaty and Zenger. And to understand that the Beaty mismanagement legacy will continue for a few more years.

I trust Long and Miles to take the right approach in rebuilding the roster. This doesn't mean never taking a transfer or never taking a JUCO player but it does mean being smart. Something the previous administration and coach never were. But hey, those two Big 12 wins in 36 attempts were something special...right?

Mike Hart 3 years, 10 months ago

interesting that you say the "Beaty mismanagement legacy" will continue for a few more years. Where Miles in his initial assessment says we can win next year. He obviously doesn't think the Titanic is sinking like it was on Dec 5th, 2014 when Beaty was hired. So let me get this straight.. .If KU struggles the next 2 seasons.. then Miles will get a pass.. because it is STILL Beaty's fault. But many here didn't want to give Beaty even a THIRD year after 2 years on the job....because he couldn't right the ship in his first 2 years for what he inherited from Weis. He had less of an opportunity to recruit his first year (hired Dec 5th) than Les Miles will have this year.. It was Beaty's fault in year 2 for how the team did... but it will be Beaty's fault again in Miles year 2 if things don't go well. Oh, but if things DO go well, than that is 100% credit to Miles.. and no credit to Beaty. Truly comical....

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 10 months ago

The scholarship situation has been improved under Beaty and Miles is inheritinga better situation than Beaty did. What Weis did to the roster that hurt KU the most was the imbalance he created in the classes of having alternating years of large and small senior classes. That was an issue that was always going to take two full recruiting cycles to correct regardless of the coach. The blue shirt strategy was used to try and balance out the classes which was working for its purpose.

Beaty went through his first spring without enough players to even have a two deep with less than 40 scholarship players. Miles is going to have 50+ scholarship players going through spring practice this year.

The scholarship issue Weis left was an 8-10 year fix and we're only in year 4 going into year 5 and the scholarship numbers are on track to get back normal around years 8-10. Beaty gets far too much blame for the roster situation and Charlie Weis doesn't get near enough blame for what he did to the Kansas roster. Beaty getting KU to this point was a helluva coaching job by him and he has left Miles with a far better situation than the one eaty inherited from Weis.

Brian Hosfelt 3 years, 10 months ago

Aaron how did Beaty fix anything with the scholarship problem? What's Miles going to have going into year two? We only have 25 Fr and Sophomores combined...add the 15 we sign this year and that means year two we have

Jack Hoff 3 years, 10 months ago

That's not how it works at all...... lol

Brian Wilson 3 years, 10 months ago

On average your only get 21 per class and most schools don't have 85 scholarship players. So it should only take 3 years to get there.
Play 20 of the Seniors and Redshirt 8
Play 10 of the Juniors and Redshirt 4
Play all 11 of the Sophomores
Recruit 15 Freshman and do not red shirt any of them.
Go to battle with your best 56 scholarships and try to win with a small roster so you can increase the roster in one year. Beaty's roster was this small year one and Miles now has a lot more talent to work with.

in 2020, year two you have 73 scholarship players
18 Seniors
15 Juniors
15 Sophomores
25 Freshman

In 2021 you have 80 scholarships
15 Seniors, 15 Juniors, 25 Sophomores, 25 Freshman

Phil Leister 3 years, 10 months ago

I'm curious as to the percentage of schools out there who also don't field 85 scholarship players. Does anyone else struggle to hit that number or has KU been super unique in that regard?

Mike Hart 3 years, 10 months ago

Per Gary Barnett (formerly head coach of Colorado and Northwestern)... most FBS teams operate with around 78 scholarship players on average. Here is what else is interesting for saying the program is no better for Miles coming in than it was for Beaty in 2015:

Gill got fired in 2011. Weis came in and promptly dismissed 29 players from the program. KU then went 1-11 in 2012 under Weis. For 2013, Weis signed 16 juco recruits in a 25 man recruiting class. By the fall of 2014... only EIGHT of those 25 players remained in the KU program. Six of Weis' 16 juco recruits never played a down at Kansas. By the start of Beaty's first season in 2015... exactly FIVE players of Weis' 2013 recruiting class of 25 remained on the Kansas roster. Compounding that... exactly 8 players from Weis' 2012 class remained on the roster for Beaty in 2015. That means Weis' first 2 years of recruiting at Kansas resulted in just 13 players from 2012 and 2013 classes... who were available for Beaty in 2015. Beaty's first team in 2015 was tasked with replacing 70% of their passing yards... 64 percent of their rushing yards.. and 93% of their receiving yards. Beaty's first team in 2015 did not have a pass catcher who caught more than 8 passes in 2014... did not have a RB who scored a TD or rushed for more than 450 yards. They had exactly ONE skill-position player who started more than one game (De'Andre Mann). Beaty's first year in 2015 had 25 walk-on players.

Compare that to Les Miles and what he has to work with. Yes, we lost Daniel Wise, Joe Dineen.. and 2 solid, WR to graduation. But we have 2/3 QBs, all 3 RBs, all but one offensive lineman and 7/11 starters on defense (including the entire defensive backfield) returning. Did Beaty have success at Kansas and did he accomplish what was necessary to keep his job? No, he did not. But he righted the ship... and left the program in much better shape than what he inherited.

Mike Bennett 3 years, 10 months ago

To me, this is the number 1 reason why Beaty needed to be fired. He came in with low scholarship numbers and he's leaving his successor the exact same mess. Four years to correct the issue and all he did was make the situation worse. Understand, regardless of whether he stayed or was fired, the scholarship numbers would remain the same. No improvement at all in 4 fricking years.

Brent Shipley 3 years, 10 months ago

The roster is in much better shape then when he took over. Its not even close to being in the same conversation. Still bad but not in the toilet. .

Mike Hart 3 years, 10 months ago

Mike Bennett: All Beaty did was make the scholarship situation worse? Really??? Ludicrous assessment... as pointed out in my post above. Do some research before you make such an assessment.

Al Martin 3 years, 10 months ago

So I've read some comments that suggest that taking our medicine now (15 scholarships this year) is the way to go, but I'm still a bit confused. It seems that, rather than have an unbalanced freshman class for this year (6 under the average), it might make sense to to do, say, four blue shirts (let's say they're all freshman rather than JUCO), so that this class would be 19. This would take away 4 from next year, leaving 21, which would be about average anyway. Then the class levels would balance more quickly.

When 28 graduate next year, we're going to be hurting, certainly, but if four have one more year in the program, wouldn't that be better?

Or is the issue that the people who will agree to blue shirt are generally lower quality athletes?

Brian Hosfelt 3 years, 10 months ago

Al Martin I agree with you to a point...with less time to recruit this season I doubt we could find enough good players to blueshirt. Unless big time recruits start jumping on board sign our 15 this year and maybe 25 plus next year with a couple blue shirts...then stick to the 25 after that.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 3 years, 10 months ago

The reality of the situation as it stands right now is that we'll be lucky to be able to get 15 quality recruits for this recruiting season IF HCLM & his future staff do an amazing recruiting job. It's very late in the recruiting game and uncommitted quality player are few and far between. Next year and going forward, targeting that 25 recruits per year would seem to make sense.

Mike Hart 3 years, 10 months ago


Here we go again with the "it's very late in the recruiting game and uncommitted quality players are few and far between" commentary. I invite you to go look at the Rivals 2019 Top 100 prospects. Just look at the Top 10 recruits.. .and there you will see that only the #1, #9 and #10 prospects have given VERBAL commitments. Prospects #3 through 8 are UNDECIDED. Again, these are verbal commitments.. nothing binding. Signing day is Feb 6, 2019... there should be plenty of time for a quality coach like Les Miles .. with his coaching pedigree and recruiting ties... to lure some quality recruits to Kansas. Look how many verbal commitments KU has lost prior to Feb signing day... perhaps the pendulum will swing OUR way this time. In either scenario, your premise that uncommitted quality players are few and far between is a bogus contention.

Jack Hoff 3 years, 10 months ago

Thank you Mike! Finally somebody said it. Plenty of fish in the sea! All the better that Miles has the luxury of picking his own recruits. From what I've seen he's reached out to some studs thus far both locally and in the LA area!

Layne Pierce 3 years, 10 months ago

In reality, Beatty was working with a short deck, but my beef was that he failed to modify his coaching to match the players he did have, until it was too late. What happened this year, could have happened already last year. Run the ball, stupid, and let the running give the passing a chance, forget the airraid offense, it was offensive to watch us try to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, over and over and over. He did not make an adjustment until it was far too late. He never did give Carter Stanley a real chance, even though the team always responded better to his leadership, and Carter had the mobility to keep from being tackled for a loss too many times.

What we will see with Coach Miles, is the ability to use the talent we have, whether it is 60 or 75, or 85 players on scholarship. Devise a defense and offense to maximize the abilities of every player. Coach Beatty could never get his head around it.


Eric Eakins 3 years, 10 months ago

100% Spot on. The only thing I would add is Beatty seemed lost at times in the game resulting in penalties and timeouts wasted. The players seemed lost too. Game planning seemed adhoc as he worked without even a game plan / play calling cheat sheet on the sideline. I think Miles will be miles above that. Beatty did improve the overall organization through other efforts but not to the point to be trusted taking it any further. Hopefully down the road we will look back and see him as a first step to lifting the program up and not the last step to its downfall. Time will tell.

Steven Haag 3 years, 10 months ago

Let’s not forget that we could still get walk ons. Doesn’t mean we give them a scholarship. Snyder found some pretty darn good walk ons, a few he even awarded a scholarship to after a couple of years, after they “earned it” (hate using that catch phrase, but it does fit). Miles might get some good walk ons to help during these next couple of years. We really need to get a staff in place and go after some recruits. That is priority #1 right now

Buck Bukaty 3 years, 10 months ago

Messrs. Dineen, Wise, and Pooka were named First Team All Big 12 Conference! Mr. Pooka named Offensive Freshman of Year! Congrats, Dudes!!! RCJH!

Dirk Medema 3 years, 10 months ago

Steven - You bring up another area where Beaty was creative and reasonably successful. He brought in a former KS HS coach just for those walkon relationships and got some contributors that way. Gibson (? OC) was the poster child for it.

Mike - You are absolutely right about there being lots of quality players still available, but you seem to be forgetting the new early signing period in December. There still should be plenty of quality players to fill a 15 member class.

Definitely agree with the concept of taking players sooner than later if they can contribute. It is the reason Beaty's use of blueshirts was good for the program. With Miles getting a late start I can see it being advantageous to do less this year to save the #s for when you have a full cycle to work with.

Andy Godwin 3 years, 10 months ago

If Miles can add at least 15 players each year with the talent of P. Williams and C. Harris then KU will start seeing more wins. Great coach still need have the Jimmy’s and the Joe’s to be successful. Just ask Nick Saban.

Mike Greer 3 years, 10 months ago

You never know where a quality player is going to come from, it's up to a great coach to discover and develop that player. It doesn't have to be a freshman recruit or a scholarship transfer. Miles has more than one option to build a team. Not that I expect the same results, but with a JUCO transfer qb, there was this coach that won a national championship with the previous coaches players. And then there is this former walkon qb, now on the Browns roster, he's not doing too bad. Point is, Miles has the ability to add to the team beyond just the recruiting class.

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