Monday, July 5, 2021

Former Michigan reserve LB Cornell Wheeler transferring to join KU football

Kansas football linebacker Cornell Wheeler

Kansas football linebacker Cornell Wheeler


A former Michigan reserve linebacker who’s not far removed from receiving a four-star grade as a high school prospect, Cornell Wheeler announced on Monday he’s transferring to the University of Kansas.

“Blessed to be a Jayhawk,” Wheeler tweeted. “(Let’s) work.”

Wheeler spent just one season with the Wolverines after signing with Michigan in the Class of 2020, when Rivals rated him as a four-star inside linebacker and the No. 6 recruit in the state of Michigan.

Listed at 6 feet and 231 pounds on Michigan’s roster before he entered the portal, Wheeler didn’t play in any games for the Wolverines in 2020.

In an interview with Jon Kirby of Jayhawk Slant, Wheeler said one of the reasons he chose KU was because it felt like “the right place” for him.

“I feel like they need depth at linebacker, and I feel like I can get on the field quick and just make a change there,” Wheeler told Jayhawk Slant. “There's another linebacker coming from Michigan, as well, in Rich Miller (who transferred from Buffalo). I feel like me and him can make a change there. That's why I chose Kansas, because I feel like they needed me most.”

Indeed, the Jayhawks don’t return a ton of experience at linebacker. Juniors Gavin Potter and Nick Channel are two of the position group’s more seasoned options, as both took on starting roles during the 2020 season, when the Jayhawks lost starters Dru Prox and Denzel Feaster.

During his days as a standout high school linebacker at West Bloomfield (Mich.), Wheeler picked up 13 scholarship offers, with eight coming from Power Five programs, including Michigan State, Iowa State, Kentucky and Missouri.

At the time, Wheeler also got recruited by Chris Simpson, who back then worked for Lance Leipold at Buffalo. Now that Simpson and Leipold are at KU, that relationship, Wheeler told Jayhawk Slant, influenced his decision.

“As soon as me and Coach Simpson met, it was out of sight,” Wheeler said. “The vibe that we had between each other was great. We didn't just talk about football; it was more just life. He talked to me like a person, and it was a lot more than just football. That started everything. I feel like he can take my game to the next level. Really, I see a coach that has trusted me, and he has faith in me.”

Wheeler will have four years of eligibility remaining as he joins the roster heading into this season.

None by Nell ¹ᵏ


Dirk Medema 1 year, 5 months ago

Great addition! Rock Chalk Welcome.

I think Coach Leipold and crew have now augmented every group and most are multi year players. Similar to what happened a couple regimes ago, though the quality appears even better. All evidence points to being a superior game day coach as well. I think we might surprise some people this year and in the future.

Matt Gauntt 1 year, 5 months ago

Nice. I may be fooled (I have before), but our new HC Leipold and staff just bring a feeling of seriousness to the team and with it, no giddiness, but a determined feel of "yeah, we are getting there.....we'll be OK". They seem to be doing things the right way and working hard. Excited to see what will come from all of this.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 5 months ago

It’s also nice that this is another kid from Michigan. Maybe this staff is also opening some new recruiting areas.

Hudl highlights don’t show much of him in coverage but he does seem to have a nose for the ball as a run stopper. We really need that.

He seemed to be more commonly referred to as a 3* recruit but still probably the highest rated in our class.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 5 months ago

Sounds like a solid addition in almost every way.

Miles, and now Leipold, have done so much to repair the roster decimation left by Beaty. Certainly, we are far from over the hump but we are putting together a real college football roster.

Each move that Coach Lance makes seems to be both smart and solid. And these kinds of commitments can build some real momentum as summer recruiting continues. It’s good to be both impressed by and excited for KU football again.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 5 months ago

Nice article Dale. It shows why Wheeler didn’t get on the field at Michigan, and why he might be the exact type of player KU is going to have to develop into a productive Big 12 guy.

Willie Pless stood 5’ 9” while standing on a phone book, and became an all-time great at KU. Some guys can just play.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 5 months ago

Good reference Dale. I believe a run stopping LB is what we’ve been missing for some time now.

Micky Baker 1 year, 4 months ago

With the transfer portal, does he have 2 or 3 years of eligibility? Does he qualify for a red-shirt since he did not play in any games last season? Run-stopper can be a big deal in this league.

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