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Wide receiver Nick Harwell at top of deep pool of KU football red-shirt talent

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Charlie Weis doesn’t coach like a guy on the hot seat and with good reason. His seat won’t heat up until next season and even then only if no signs of significant progress are visible on offense.

Weis has been conservative about not ripping red shirts off of players he believes will benefit from an extra year in the program. That’s building for the future, not selfishly bankrupting it. (Pointing out the obvious, Weis has said that decisions on red shirts have not been made yet. It’s not an official move to red-shirt a player. It’s just that the ability to red-shirt him is lost once he plays in a game, excluding in the case of medical red-shirts, a category for which running back Taylor Cox and outside linebacker Samson Faifili would qualify if their injuries keep them out the remainder of the season.)

A look at probable red shirts who haven’t yet played in the program and bring exciting possibilities, in order of a guess as to how soon they could make a major positive impact, with their class as of next year listed:

1. Nick Harwell, Sr. WR, 6-1, 193: Unlike the other Div. I transfers Weis has recruited, the excitement he generates is based on his collegiate performance, not on his high school rating. As a sophomore at Miami of Ohio he had 97 receptions for 1,425 yards and nine touchdowns. Had big seasons as a freshman and junior as well. Attempts to earn eligibility for him this season failed.

2. Kevin Short, Jr. CB, 6-2, 185: Was ruled academically ineligible because not all of his credits were approved and will have two years of eligibility remaining. Long and fast, he has an excellent shot at turning of the five returning starters in the secondary into a frequently used reserve.

3. Montell Cozart, Fr. QB, 6-2, 189: His confidence borders on cockiness and, really, is that such a bad thing? Has been clocked at 4.5 in the 40, throws well on the run and in the pocket, and has a legitimate shot at competing for the starting job as soon as this spring. For the first time, Cozart’s name appeared on the depth chart this week, which at the very least gives Oklahoma an extra dimension for which to prepare.

4. Andrew Bolton, Jr. DE, 6-3, 280: LSU was interested in stealing him from KU after he made a verbal commitment, but the Tigers backed off once he injured his knee. Bolton was not fully recovered from the injury during summer camp, so he’ll make his debut next season. He’s built like a prototypical, long-armed NFL pass-rusher.

5. T.J. Millweard, So. QB, 6-3, 210: Committed to Virginia Tech, then Arizona State and then UCLA, following the assistant coach who recruited him to ASU. More mobile than Jake Heaps, but not as mobile as Cozart. Transfer rules require him to sit out this season.

6. Marcus Jenkins-Moore, Jr. OLB/buck, 6-3, 210: Undersized but fast, he suffered a season-ending knee injury during the summer. Will need to dedicate himself 100 percent to rehab to maintain his greatest asset, his speed.

7. Colin Spencer, Fr. RB, 5-10, 180: In similar fashion to Tony Pierson, Spencer accelerates to top speed in a blink and his top speed is way up there. An elite combine athlete, he played cornerback in high school.

8. Ben Johnson, Fr. TE, 6-5, 235: Basehor Linwood grad drew late interest from Oklahoma. High school defenses couldn’t figure out how to stop him from catching passes.

9. Joey Bloomfield, Fr. OL, 6-6, 295: Kansas State was among the schools to offer scholarship to the three-star prospect form Louisville.

10. Colton Goeas, Fr., MLB, 6-2, 245: Many recruiting analysts expected this three-star ’backer to attend the same school as high school teammate, Reeve Koehler, a four-star offensive lineman who disappointed KU when he headed for Arkansas. If all goes well, he’ll progress from third string (Ben Heeney, Schyler Miles) to second (Miles) to starter by his junior season.

11. Mark Thomas, Jr., WR, 6-0, 210: A nice blend of size and speed, but couldn’t beat out active receivers in the summer, so he’ll need to make most of this development year to make an impact.

12. Kellen Ash, Fr., OLB, 6-3, 225: Has made the most of weight-room workouts and has already packed muscle onto his frame. Sack-minded nature makes him a possibility at buck position as well.

13. Ishmael Hyman, Fr., WR, 6-0, 180: KU beat out Boston College and Purdue for the deep threat from New Jersey.

14. Jordan Darling, Fr., QB, 6-4, 226: A strong-armed, drop-back passer in the mold of Dayne Crist, he projects as fifth-string next season, but has the arm to move up if he grasps everything the position demands.

Comments

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 11 months ago

A timely article for the "There's always next year" crowd.

But it really does bring promise to KU football, knowing that there's a deep class of players who haven't seen the field yet this season. Or in the case of Cox and Faifili, have seen minimal time prior to injury.

As early as when Kevin Short was ruled out for this season, myself and others started pointing to next year as the year that Weis really has to show progress and produce the wins.

Jim Erickson 8 years, 11 months ago

Agree with you Jonathan. I don't like next year articles this early. Harwell, Crist, McCay, Heaps... Why isn't our talent producing?

Chris Bailey 8 years, 11 months ago

Harwell is sitting out due to transfer rules. So his isn't a want but rather a have to.

Joe Ross 8 years, 11 months ago

I cant fault Keegan here. As an author you have one of two choices if the football season has been a disappointment thus far: either focus on the current negatives, or look ahead to the potential of next season. The inherent dilemma of the KU football fan is that his patience has already been tested and deferred. So if you report on an issue that focuses on a negative reality...BAM! You're a boo-bird author. If you report on next season, then you risk wearing further on the patience of fans who have held out hope only to see it disappointed, and you're caught that way too. I don't know what either Keegan or Tait is to do to placate a fanbase (me included), when the problems are not of their making. And yet you can't fault the fans either for their frustration level (me included). It's almost as if broaching ANY issue relative to the football team pushes the authors and readers to an uncomfortable stalemate that neither side is responsible for.

I don't think Kansas even needs to win to make this better. I was highly satisfied with the progress of last season simply because it looked like we were competitive. It's thirteen kinds of disheartening to want progress so badly, only to have more questions than answers pop up week in and week out.

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 11 months ago

It truly can be a damned if you do or damned if you don't situation, but sometimes we need a reminder there is talent on the roster and this will still take time to rebuild. I do believe that wins need to come next season though otherwise Weis will be on the hot seat. It's a safe bet we don't have a bowl team this year, but even though you and I may not see eye to eye on certain things but I do agree we need to show improvement the remainder of the season so we have something to hang our hat on for the offseason.

Chris Bailey 8 years, 11 months ago

+1 I think you hit the nail on the head. I feel the same way.

Brandon Mahon 8 years, 11 months ago

We do have some talent but I was just watching highlights from the 07-08 year and even parts of 08-09 and the team just had attitude. They were not all 5 star prospects, they were guys that were overlooked and wanted to prove everyone wrong... Were did that attitude go? They played hard and wanted to pop people in the mouth. I think that is one of the biggest things missing with this team is that lets prove people wrong and do whatever it takes attitude. I would like to see that again. LOOK how fired up Reesing, Talib, Rivera, etc players get fired up over everything.. We will be successful when we get the attitude back and solid coaching. For your viewing pleasure, some highlights from those days.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhCNQPVdPhM

Joe Ross 8 years, 11 months ago

Thank you Brandon! I really needed to see that!

Brandon Mahon 8 years, 11 months ago

I hope that isn't and upset sarcastic comment. It just shows that Kansas can be a top 25 team.

Joe Ross 8 years, 11 months ago

Not sarcastic at all. When there hasn't been much to cheer about with Kansas football in almost five years, it's good to be reminded of the glory days that are still within recent memory's reach.

Chris Bailey 8 years, 11 months ago

I too like seeing the way we were and could be again! We need to right this ship. Is CW the man to do it? I don't know but I hope he at least recruits well. He'll most likely retire after his contract is up and we'll be out looking again. Hopefully Zinger brings in someone who can really coach and do it well!

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 11 months ago

I agree that this team lacks a certain attitude and aggressiveness. I see the potential in defense to be there, but this team needs a little more fire in its belly. We see it from Heeney who plays like his beard lol is on fire.

Tom Keegan 8 years, 11 months ago

I think Keon Stowers plays with fire, it's just tougher to see because of the position he plays. Isaiah Johnson hits harder every week. Dexter Linton, featured by Matt Tait and coming to a computer near you soon, plays with an edge. Ben Goodman, too.

Jim Williamson 8 years, 11 months ago

But think back to where that attitude came from in the mid-2000s. That was Mark Mangino who quickly put a chip on the shoulders of guys like Bill whittemore and the law firm of Banks, Floodman and Kane. That "us against the world" mentality worked really well for about six years. But the swagger came from the top down.

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 11 months ago

We can sit here and name a few players here and there and applaud them all day long, but the fire in the belly is lacking in this team overall. If you look at that Orange Bowl team, we had a team playing like mad men! We didn't have a lot of pro talent on that team either. The offense is stagnant as we all know and the defense has shown signs of improvement, which is a good sign, but there needs to be more if we are to be a bowl contending team.

Aaron Paisley 8 years, 11 months ago

How many people expected 1, 2, 4, and 6 to be playing and starting, or at least contributing significantly, for KU this year? There are some highly regarded players sitting out this season because of injury or the NCAA that will help out next year. As far as this year, look at the depth chart for this week and you will see 50 players listed on the two deep for offense and defense. Of those 50 players, only 11 (22%) are seniors and only 6 (12%) are starting this week and one of those starters is starting because of an injury. This is a very young and inexperienced team that will be returning the vast majority of players next year. 2014 has always been the most important season for Charlie Weis at KU from the day he was hired because year 1 was cleaning up the mess Turner Gill left behind and laying the foundation, year 2 is the when the framework for the program is put in place, and year 3 is when it starts all coming together.

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 11 months ago

That would be highly ideal and something that has been considered. I do believe that is a big reason why this incoming class does not need to have many juco players so that young guys can develop. This season will probably be more of us taking lumps, but to see what this staff has I think we all agree it has to be next year in the wins column.

Eric Mitchell 8 years, 11 months ago

Great positive article to start the best day of the week. I sure hope that at least half of those guys have solid careers.

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