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