Seven 2015 KU football red-shirts to watch next fall


Every season at just about every school, one of the most-asked questions around football programs is about red-shirts.

Who are they? How many will there be? Which ones will help most in the future? And have you told them yet?

It may be handled differently at different places and at some of the power programs that have guys lined up down the block to come play, they probably do tell kids before the season begins that they're going to red-shirt.

Not at Kansas. At least not with head coach David Beaty.

Don't get me wrong, there are definitely a few guys who Beaty and his coaching staff targeted with the idea of red-shirting them. But if any of them could have helped the Jayhawks on the field at all during the 2015 season, the red-shirt would've come off in a hot minute. Beaty said as much throughout the season while also saying, at times, that there were specific guys he would've liked to red-shirt.

He didn't always name names, but would say something like, “We'd like to keep the shirt on one of the two freshmen QBs.” It worked. Ryan Willis played. Carter Stanley did not. Willis has three years left. Stanley has four.

There were other instances along those same lines, but now that the season is officially over and the red-shirts are official, here's a quick look at seven guys who saved a season of eligibility that could help this program as soon as 2016.

• WR LaQuivionte Gonzales — “Quiv” (who really should be nicknamed “Speedy”) sat out due to NCAA transfer rules after coming to KU from Texas A&M, but there's no doubt he'll have a major role on this team next fall. Beaty has said Gonzales is as fast and dynamic as any player on the roster and he should help immediately in the return game as well as on offense, where KU rolls seven, eight and nine receivers onto the field throughout each game.

• WR Chase Harrell — Don't forget about this kid. He graduated early and came with some serious hype so the fact that he did not become an immediate star turned some people off. But he made serious strides toward building his body and learning the offense and should not only be more ready to compete for a role in the offense but also more driven after watching other true freshmen take snaps ahead of him. The future is still bright for Harrell.

• LB Keith Loneker Jr. — Local prospect from Free State High who transferred to KU before the season after a freshman All-American year at nearby Baker University. Loneker's name kept coming up for his work on the scout team and there is no doubt that this fast, tough, instinctual football player will have a big time chance to play a huge role at a thin position for KU next season. Don't be surprised for a second if he's out there starting alongside fellow former Firebird Joe Dineen Jr.

• OL Mesa Ribordy — Walk-on and in-state prospect from Louisburg High, Ribordy was one of those names I kept hearing when I went out to practice as an O-Lineman who could have a bright future and get into the mix quickly. KU needs as much help as it can get up front and Ribordy, an athletic 6-foot-4, 270-pound lineman who moves well and is getting stronger, could compete for a spot up front at least as a part of the regular rotation.

• DB Shaq Richmond — Cornerback from Grand Prairie, Texas, was very well thought of by the KU coaching staff when he committed — recruiting coordinator Reggie Mitchell landed him — and his natural skills and increased bulk and speed should give him a shot at cracking the field at a position of great need. KU will continue to address the cornerback position in the 2016 recruiting class, both through high school and juco players, but Beaty is big on development and this is a guy who is already a year into his.

• QB Carter Stanley — Here's another guy you should not write off yet. I know the focus is on Ryan Willis being the QB of the future, and that is well deserved given the way Willis competed, performed and led the offense as a true freshman. But he's not going to be handed the job without others coming after it. And Stanley, who knows the offense and desperately needed a year to get bigger and stronger, could still be Willis' biggest competition heading into spring football. A more mobile QB than Willis, Stanley has a good arm and should feel more comfortable competing for the job in Year 2.

• TE Jace Sternberger — This guy is a beast. He has great size (6-4, 225) and good hands but still looks ultra-athletic all over the field. It won't be easy to crack the lineup given the fact that both Ben Johnson and Kent Taylor will be back. But Sternberger's one of those guys who will find a way to make the coaches play him. At worst, he'll play a complementary role to those other tight ends next season. But you can bet you'll see him on the field in some capacity.


Brett McCabe 6 years, 8 months ago

Seven guys coming on for added depth next year should really help the team as the grind of the season wears on. I'm a little bit excited about the offense next year.

Michael Lorraine 6 years, 8 months ago

If Stanley can win the starting job over Willis, and it's not because of an injury then we are in pretty good shape.

Bill Kackley 6 years, 8 months ago

Matt, will cummings be able to play next year?

Dirk Medema 6 years, 8 months ago

That should be Willis' biggest competition - if he's back.

Joe Ross 6 years, 8 months ago

The redshirts are coming, the redshirts are coming...

I'll be glad to see it too. Kansas should start faster out of the gate with many key players already knowing the offense and defense. Any support we can get would be welcomed.

But Beaty has an interesting problem. With the shape the program was in when he took over, I would have thought any coach coming in would have needed three years to begin to turn the corner (unless you could have landed a Jim Harbaugh, in which case the recruiting out of the gate would be insane). But will fans (read "boosters") be patient enough to sit through another season where we might win two games? Its not like Beaty's contract is structured in a way that would prevent Zenger from snatching up a better known name if it becomes available. I think what is more prohibitive than the money is the sense that a coach is going to need some time to develop players and recruit back up to full strength.

Beaty is really going to have to be sharp on the recruiting trail. Doesnt mean he needs to land four stars, but you better have some three stars in there and the one and two star prospects better be coachable and have a work ethic. The turmoil in Texas might leave a furtile recruiting ground that Beaty can take advantage of.

Maria Ungaro 6 years, 8 months ago

Kansas is building this program correctly, from the ground up......

Please keep hitting the High Schools for recruits, build your depth and competition for years to come. So instead of rebuilding we are just reloading.....

I like hungry 3 star / 2 star recruits who are out to prove themselves with that chip on their shoulder.

Continue to stay on course and we will be bowling in the very near future. October 1, 2016 at Texas Tech. Circle that date..... KU breaks the big 12 road losing streak.

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