Saturday, January 15, 2022

Kansas football lands commitments from 2 potential impact transfers

Kansas University football recruiting

Kansas University football recruiting


The Kansas football program picked up commitments from a pair of potential impact transfers on Saturday.

Former Minnesota running back Ky Thomas, a native of Topeka with past ties to current KU running back Devin Neal, and Miami (Ohio) defensive end Lonnie Phelps, both committed to KU over the weekend.

Thomas announced his decision on Twitter and the Phelps commitment was first reported by Jon Kirby of

According to Kirby, the addition of the two young, talented and proven players brings KU’s already-impressive transfer class in the current recruiting cycle to a new level.

“They have been almost perfect when it comes to using the (transfer) portal to this point,” Kirby wrote of the KU coaching staff. “They used every spot they had available and filled them with players that were high on their list. Filling out (the class) with the final two commitments today would push their grade to an A in my early evaluations.”

A 6-foot-3, 244-pound edge rusher from Cincinnati, Phelps was a second-team all-MAC selection in 2021, finishing third in the conference with 9.5 sacks while also adding 13.5 tack-les for loss.

Thomas is a 5-foot-11, 205-pound tailback from Topeka High, who ran for more than 7,000 yards in his prep career and earned Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year honors his senior season. He ran for 824 yards and six touchdowns on 166 car-ries for the Gophers during the 2021 season.

KU was the first program to offer him when he went into the portal and it’s clear that the chance to return to the Sunflower State played a huge role in his decision to transfer and him picking KU.

When Thomas announced his commitment to KU on Twitter on Saturday, he added, “I’m coming home!” as the tag line.

This weekend’s pick-ups, along with previous transfer portal commitments from cornerback Kalon Gervin (Michigan State), running back Sevion Morrison (Nebraska), linebacker Craig Young (Ohio State), offensive lineman Nolan Gorczyca (Buffa-lo) and linebacker Eriq Gilyard (Central Florida), figure to give Lance Leipold’s second Kansas team even more depth, talent and experience.

Six of the seven impact transfers have more than one year of eligibility remaining and all seven fall in line with Leipold’s claim that his job this offseason was to improve the KU roster through whatever means necessary, regardless of what stig-mas may exist from past KU coaches’ efforts in this area.

According to Kirby, Leipold and company on the recruiting trail have continued to capitalize on the momentum they ended the 2021 season with.

There is still work to do in the upcoming months,” Kirby wrote. “The Jayhawks could have as many as seven more spots to fill. But their work in the early portion is done, and they are off to a great start.”

Here’s a look back at some highlights from Thomas’ Topeka High career.

None by Mitchel Summers

And here’s Phelps’ highlight tape from his senior season of high school before he joined Miami (Ohio).

None by 8️⃣


Len Shaffer 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Wow, tremendous pickups! Leipold is doing a hell of a job on the recruiting trail!

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Nice pickups! Need a few XL men in the trenches and we'll be looking good!

Andy Godwin 10 months, 3 weeks ago

In "Leipold we trust". He has a huge challenge ahead to build quality depth at each position, but if the transfer portal can be his friend so be it. Every coach knows the game is won or lost at the line, so adding talent on the defense line is great. And last season emphasized that KU needs depth at the running back position, so welcome Ky Thompson. Rock Chalk.

Dirk Medema 10 months, 3 weeks ago

5 ypc! At D1. The highlights show nice moves and power.

It’s great that he’s coming home. There may not be enough D1 players in KS to field an entire team (or 2) but there are definitely some and unfortunately most have left the state during the past 5+ years.

It was disappointing to see Amauri transfer, but that’s 2 quality RBs on top of Neal and the others. Also encouraging that they are coming in spite of an obviously established young RB.

Great to get a DE with Kyron graduating. It would be really nice to get a DT or 2. Never enough and that seems to be a group that is rather thin. There seemed to be a bit of a stockpile of young OL, so trusting coaches evals that normal recruiting will work there.

Good that most of these transfers come with experience and multiple years to play.

Edward Daub 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Lonnie Phelps is a former Redhawk, and a future Jayhawk! Let's hope that he can excel at "swooping down" on quarterbacks from the defensive end position. Rock Chalk!

Jeff Coffman 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I know the rules have changed with the tranfer portal and how many people you can recruit and still stay under the 25, and all that, but just curious if this is going to cause headaches in a few years with rosters and scholarship players?

Dirk Medema 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Jeff - Valid question about long term effects on the roster. I think Matt touches on this near the end when he references the stigma of previous coaches. The roster went degraded tremendously when CW was here, but only partially because he recruited a lot of JCs. The bigger factor though was that the majority never saw the field or had any positive influence on the team.

A former editor and plenty of commenters loved to trash DB because there were similarities in the number of JCs while ignoring 2 fundamental differences. 1. Most of the DB JCs actually made it to campus and were an active part of the team. 2. Most of the DB JCs also came with more than 2 years of eligibility. Kendrick, who just left was here for 4 and still has a covid year I think. It would have been nice to have had more HS recruits and long term we needed more (as well as better game day leadership - the real crux of the problem).

The flip side of recruiting too many is not addressing immediate needs, as seen LM year 2. We were losing our NFL LT after 4 years and we could not get a replacement. Instead, we misplayed the LG and destroyed the OL.

Strictly by the numbers, you can easily include a half dozen JCs without creating roster imbalance (85/4 vs 25*4) and that’s without including the benefits of redshirt years. With all the other colored shirts and the transfers, it’s become much more complicated than the simple math above, but the concept still applies.

It seems to me that Coach Leipold has the balance of recruiting multi year players. Currently, it seems fairly similar in numbers between transfers and HS. My guess is that we’ll see that become more HS oriented as the roster settles down and he has an actual recruiting cycle to meet recruits. Even more than the task of building/rebuilding the roster, he needs to build/rebuild the perception of the program so that the best recruits will want to stay instate/come to our great university.

David Robinett 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Bingo Dirk. And LL is on his way.

"Even more than the task of building/rebuilding the roster, he needs to build/rebuild the perception of the program so that the best recruits will want to stay instate/come to our great university."

Brett McCabe 10 months, 3 weeks ago

No one ignored the differences between CW and Dumb Dave, because there weren’t any. Distinctions without differences. They each consecutively destroyed the roster and never won any games. And left the cupboard bare for the next guy.

Leipold has to go his own way. He’ll win with it or get fired. That’s the bargain. I think he’ll win because he’s done it before.

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