With Bledsoe OU-bound, the focus on KU's D-Line shifts to Isaiah Bean


While Thursday's news that four-star defensive end and Lawrence High prospect Amani Bledsoe had picked Oklahoma over Kansas certainly qualified as disappointing for the KU football program, all is not lost.

The Jayhawks, who threw all they had at the local standout and did everything humanly possible to land him, will move on and still have five spots to fill in the 2016 recruiting class.

Granted, none of them look as appealing today as Bledsoe and it's doubtful that any of them — or even all of them combined — could bring the same kind of lift and momentum to the program that Bledsoe picking Kansas would have. But what's done is done and crying about what could have been certainly will not do anything to help this rebuilding program improve.

Give Kansas credit for cracking Bledsoe's final two. Even if the Jayhawks did not get him, encouraging a player of that caliber to give the program a long, hard look eventually will be seen as a good thing.

Today, however, the news is pretty disappointing.

That said, KU coach David Beaty and company don't have time to sulk. They've got a handful of visitors lined up for this weekend and they'll start trickling in tomorrow. The last thing those kids need to see is a coaching staff that's bummed out over losing Bledsoe. And they won't. Beaty and his staff, no matter how hard they took this one, know that this is the way recruiting in the college football world goes. You win some, you lose some and you can't get too high or too low no matter what the outcome.

Here's a list of some of the most likely candidates to fill KU's five remaining scholarships in the 2016 recruiting class that we posted the other day.

But, for now, with the news of Bledsoe picking Oklahoma still so fresh, let's take a closer look at one in particular.

His name is Isaiah Bean and he's a two-star defensive end prospect from Houston.

Bean currently stands 6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs just 210 pounds. But it's easy to see that with a year to red-shirt and the proper strength and conditioning, he could quickly add 20-30 pounds to his frame and be more prepared to operate as a speed rusher.

The Summer Creek High prospect listed by as an “Athlete” has shown his versatility throughout his career, playing both offense and defense, and working at various summer camps as both a defensive end and a wide receiver.

You can see his frame and athleticism in the videos below.

Is Bean a ready-made, Day 1 contributor like Bledsoe? Not a chance. Could he be an intriguing project that pans out in a couple of years and impacts the program in a positive way? You bet.

And, right now, with KU in need of a defensive end in this class to fill the void left by Bledsoe's decision to pick OU, Bean is definitely better than nobody. lists KU D-Line coach Calvin Thibodeaux as the lead recruiter for Bean, who also visited Tulsa and UNLV and plans to visit Fresno State.

Bean is expected to visit Kansas during the next two weekends and also holds offers from Fresno State, Iowa State, Tulsa, UNLV, Illinois, UMass, Louisiana-Lafayette, Prairie View A&M, Texas State and UT-San Antonio.

In the mood for more? Here's a link to Bean's HUDL page, which features game videos from his 2015 season.


Deb Fitch 6 years, 6 months ago

Sure glad Bledsoe made sure he milked the program for as many perks as he could before kicking them in the teeth! I'm sure he was OU bound all along!

Glen Miller 6 years, 6 months ago

Don't be so salty.... how many prospects do this to not only KU, but other schools in the country as well. The fact that we were down to the last 2 is not lost on other recruits and also should show that Beaty and his staff can at least peak the interest of some higher profile players. I see no negative in him choosing OU over KU except for the fact that he picked them over us. Think about how you personally felt during his recruitment...... I bet if you really push aside that bitterness, you'd admit that the possibility of signing this kid got you a little excited. I know that I did! I did not expect him to sign here, so I'm not shocked at the announcement. For me, just being in the conversation on a highly regarded recruit like that shows me that we are improving in the recruiting ranks. I'll take it and I wish Bledsoe a productive and healthy career to OU.

Len Shaffer 6 years, 6 months ago

Matt, I'm curious, as a journalist, do you react when you hear things like Bledsoe choosing OU? Are you close enough to the KU program that you were disappointed and/or frustrated when you heard the news? Or do you always maintain your objectivity?

Ashwin Rao 6 years, 6 months ago

From the tone in the article above, it definitely feels like Matt was disappointed as well.

Matt Tait 6 years, 6 months ago

The goal every day in every way is to maintain that objectivity, and, I'll be honest, at this point in my career it's not all that difficult. In this case, there may have been some initial disappointment (a) because I'm a Lawrence guy, myself and would've loved to see an LHS kid stick around and (b) because I'd like to see KU reach a point where they're competitive so I'm covering something more enjoyable on Saturdays.

But at the same time, you just move on to the next guy and do your job. I'm sure the KU staff took it hard because they put so much into recruiting him, and I'd also bet they haven't given up just yet. It's not official until Bledsoe signs with OU on Feb. 3, so who knows what can happen. That said, I'm not counting on something crazy happening and therefore am looking into what else is out there and what other players the staff is trying to get so I can inform our readers about who those guys are.

Just another day on the beat, really. Whether the news is great, disappointing or somewhere in the middle, the job remains the same.

Thanks for the question, though. Appreciate your curiosity!

Michael Bennett 6 years, 6 months ago

You guys are not very smart. Another 2 from Texas is our hope??? No wonder we can't win a game. Meanwhile, not a single Kansas player recruited other than Bledsoe that I can tell. He signs a 2 with the word Texas beside their name and the LJW goes "ooh and aahh" meanwhile 3*'s from Kansas like Christian Jegen and others are just ignored. Go back and look at the 2007 roster and see how many Kansans played on that team, Rivera, Anderson, Sharp, Stuckey, Haselhorst,... would never have been recruited by Beatty.

Alex Fletcher 6 years, 6 months ago

Go back and look at the 2 stars from Texas on that roster too. I don't care where the guys come from as long as they want to be Jayhawks.

Brett McCabe 6 years, 6 months ago

The biggest name of the Mangino era was a 2-star qb from Texas. The best DB we've had in 20 years was a 2-star athlete from Texas. The next best DB we've had was a 2-star from Oklahoma. Who cares where they came from?

It's utterly ludicrous to hire a coach with deep recruiting ties to Texas, and then chastise him for utilizing his recruiting ties to Texas.

If, two years from now the team hasn't improved, I'll be the first to pile on. But right now, all we can do is watch and wait.

And by the way, the top two recruits in the state are both going to playoff programs and the third-ranked player just got offered by Jim Harbaugh. I didn't really expect us to beat those programs out for local guys.

It's amazing how the constant preaching for patience lasted almost 13 months.

Benny Armstrong 6 years, 6 months ago

Michael, I agree that it would be nice to see more Kansas guys on the roster and as other programs do lock down their home state in recruiting. I think Beaty and staff have that goal in mind and are making strides with their walk on program and the Kansas Blast where they are meeting with high school coaches all across the state to build goodwill and relationships after the previous two staffs neglected them.

To that end though, it doesn't mean we must chase after every Kansas based football player solely because they live in Kansas. We are in a unique situation where we can only sign a partial class compared to other schools which makes the rebuilding job that much tougher. In previous years and future ones once we get through this issue with scholarship numbers, we could easily take a flyer on players and make an offer hoping they might pan out, whereas the past two years have required that we be extremely judicious in who we recruit and ultimately sign. You bring up recruiting services star ratings, which has been pointed out numerous times by other posters on here are heavily flawed. Yes, that Orange Bowl roster was full of Kansas guys, but it also had several 2 star guys from Texas and other states (Aqib and Chris Harris immediately come to mind). These are often guys in football rich states that sit or play out of position for their early high school careers and ultimately slide in the rankings because they haven't played as a starter their entire careers and received the same exposure. Beaty and staff are identifying these underappreciated guys for not just their growth potential, but also the needs they fill within the program. Yes Jegen could probably step in on the DL after a few years in the weight room, but so could Bean. We won't know which is the right choice unless both signed and we watched them progress through their college careers.

Recruiting at the end of the day is an inexact science based on projecting how high school kids will grow and develop over the course of their college careers to impact a program. It also requires the ability to allocate scare resources like time. Do you spend the bulk of your recruiting time and effort in a target rich state or one that produces only a few D1 quality players each year? There's also the relationship aspect to consider. Perhaps previous coaches burned Jegen's coach to the point he steered him away from ever considering KU. Without knowing all the ins and outs of this particular situation, we just have to trust that Beaty is going to continue to push and build relationships across the state so we are these kids first and only choice while also continuing to track down talent across the country. We'll get there, it just is going to take time and patience.

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 6 months ago

The state of Kansas doesn't produce enough kids to support one let alone 2 division 1 programs. Even Snider recruits from outside of Kansas because it's not possible to sustain a P5 program when your state produces maybe 20 scholarship level players a year.

Layne Pierce 6 years, 6 months ago

Tough loss Bledsoe, but then let's face it we are all desperately looking for some kind of good news about our bad news team. In the next 2 years, if we are lucky we will get one 4 star recruit, but actually, its development, development, development.

But what I have not seen yet, and I thought I would, is some kind of plan for how we are going to be competitive and win. We certainly are not going to do it with high powered recruits, so how are we going to do it. I am not excited by teams that score 30 and give up 35 per game. I want to see yes (I know you hate it) ball control, use the clock, stay in the game, good special teams, bend don't break, and all the other cliches, but we need them. You look in the mirror, and you see your not Brad Pitt, so you smile a lot, and buy a lot of flowers and candy, but you still manage to get the girl. Mangino, God bless, and Snyder at KState, they know gimmicks and flash won't get it done by themselves.

So don't go nuts with recruiting, but look closely at what is happening to the players after they are recruited and did we really recruit for needs with a plan.

Brett McCabe 6 years, 6 months ago

We'll know a lot more about the development capabilities of the staff in the coming season.

I agree that when everyone else is zigging, that it might be a good time to zag a-la' Arkansas, Navy, Ga Tech, Air Force and some others. Recruits not being highly valued in the college game right now are tight ends and fullback, so there is probably a more ample supply.

However, Beaty is going to run the spread and recruit athletes who can run it, so we have no choice but to support the approach for at least two more years.

David Williams 6 years, 6 months ago

Hi Matt - thanks for the reporting you do on KU Sports.

A couple of questions, one of which is unrelated to #kufball -

  1. Any recruiting activity for a kicker?

  2. This season for #kuwbb has not gone well thus far. Re new coach, was this performance expected, whether he was in the role or if they would have retained Bonnie?


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