Kansas Football Recruiting: Jayhawks Wrap Up as National Signing Day Looms

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Kansas Football Recruiting: Jayhawks Wrap Up as National Signing Day Looms

A lot has changed since my last look at the Jayhawks' late-season push to finish up their recruiting class.  Some prospects are no longer being considered, others are no longer considering KU, and some have committed elsewhere.

Here is a quick breakdown of what has happened in the last week and a half.

· KU has received a commitment from Denton, TX native D.J. Bashears.  He is an undersized Three-Star WR prospect with great speed.

· Three-Star K prospect Zach Grossnickle has committed to Colorado.

· Three-Star Athlete prospect Terrell Williams has committed to Arkansas.

· Three-Star WLB prospect Justin Isadore has committed to TCU.

· Three-Star WR prospect Skylar Scott has committed to Baylor.

· Three-Star CB prospect Thomas Ferguson has committed to K-State. 

· Three-Star RB prospect Kendial Lawrence has committed to Mizzou.

· Three-Star DE prospect Tevin Mims committed to Texas.

· Four-Star WR prospect Ricco Sanders is no longer interested in KU and is currently only interested in the SEC/ACC so he can be closer to home. 

· Three-Star QB prospect Kenny Guiton is no longer interested in KU.  He is looking primarily at Baylor and several smaller Texas schools.

· Three-Star RB prospect Cobi Hamilton is no longer interested in KU.  Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma State have all made a late push for his talents.

· Two-Star OL prospect Justin Aumen has seen his stock drop considerably.  The one-time Three-Star prospect is no longer being pursued by KU.

If National Signing Day was today, Kansas would still be sitting pretty.  They have a very respectable class by national standards (32nd in the country, fifth Big XII).  They don't need to get another commitment.

Just because they don't need any more commitments doesn't mean that they aren't going to try to get any more.  There are still several very talented recruits still on the market, and KU has traditionally been able to find quality players to develop in this time. 

Mark Mangino may be the king when it comes to finding "dark horse" players late in the recruiting season.  He is almost always able to find one or two prospects in the last two weeks of recruiting who turn into major contributors.

Here are a few examples of the late gems that he has been able to acquire in recent years.

· 2008: starting punter Alonso Rojas

· 2007: starting wide receivers Dez Briscoe and Jonathan Wilson, starting tackle Jeff Spikes

· 2005: running back Angus Quigley, former starting linebacker James Holt

· 2004: former starters Matt Darton, Dexton Fields, Joe Mortensen, Charleton Keith, Anthony Collins, and Kyle Tucker

There is still plenty of talent still available for the Jayhawks to sign.  With 23 known commitments, KU will try to sign three or four more prospects.  Of those, there will probably be one more running back and at least one more offensive lineman. 

 

Running back

Ronnie Wingo

Four-Star prospect out of St. Louis, MO (University).  He is the big bruiser back that KU has been searching for.  He has great size and speed, as well as the soft hands that every Jayhawk running back needs in Coach Ed Warriner’s offensive system. 

Also considering: Arkansas, Minnesota, Illinois, and Mizzou

Why he signs with KU: He had a good, not great, time on his official visit to KU.  He enjoyed the players and the coaching staff.  He also had a great time when the coaching staff did their in-home visit.

He will have the ability to contribute as a freshman and the ability to be the featured back as a sophomore.  Illinois has already received two RB commits, and Arkansas has received three.  At Mizzou, Wingo would be forced to split time with Derrick Washington for three years. 

Why he doesn’t: Toben Opurum.  KU has already received a commitment from another bruiser back.  While there is plenty of room in KU’s backfield, Wingo may not want to be forced to compete for time with the same player for four years.

One of Wingo’s close friends, Nathan Steelhaase, has already committed to the Illini, most of his friends will be attending Mizzou, and Arkansas covets his talents desperately.

 

Dominic Wilkins

Two-Star prospect out of Houston, TX (Klein Forrest) is the typical KU back.  At 6’0”, 180 lbs. he isn’t a bruiser that KU needs for its one-two punch, but he is a gifted runner.  He is strong and can be a workhorse for the Jayhawks between the tackles.  Expect KU to make a strong push for him if they lose out on Wingo.

Also considering: Baylor and Houston

Why he signs with KU: He will have the benefit of a redshirt year, and the competition for starting time will be wide open in 2010.  He will have the ability to play on a team that can get national recognition in a BCS conference.

Why he doesn’t: Wilkins knows going in that he will be expected to redshirt.  This can scare some kids off.  Baylor is an up-and-coming program, and he could be able to see the field earlier.  KU is also much farther away from home than Baylor or Houston.

Wide Receiver

DeWayne Peace

Three-Star prospect out of Grand Prairie, TX (South).  He has great speed (4.53) and is incredibly strong.  He bench-pressed 295 lbs. as a senior.  He has good hands and runs clean routes.  He is a great downfield blocker.

Also considering: Arizona, Oklahoma State, Colorado State, Michigan, UCF, and SMU

Why he signs with KU: He has the option to either redshirt as a freshman or play as a true freshman.  He could learn and develop under Dez Briscoe and Kerry Meier.  KU has had three receivers break the 1,000-yard mark over the last two years. 

Why he doesn’t: KU has already received commitments from three other receivers, two of which have much better size.  The competition for catches will be high over the next few years.  

 

Tight End

Tanner Poppe

Two-Star prospect from Girard, KS.  He has great size (6’6”, 225 lbs.) and good hands.  His speed is good, not great, for a tight end (4.7), but his leaping ability is outstanding (33” vertical), which makes him ideal for jump balls.  He is a strong blocker in the run and pass.  He will need to add bulk and strength, but the depth chart will allow him time to do that.

Also considering: K-State

Why he signs with KU: Poppe’s lifelong friend and current high school teammate, Darian Kelly, has already committed to KU.  He will have time to develop.  His size will make him hard to keep off of the field for long.

Why he doesn’t: His lead recruiter from KU, Joe Bob Clements, is now the defensive line coach at K-State. 

Offensive Line

Carlos Savala

Three-Star tackle prospect from Palm Desert, CA (College of the Desert).  He is a two-year junior college starter that is game ready.  He has great size (6’7”, 300 lbs.) and could become the bookend that KU needs at right tackle.

Also considering: South Florida and Hawaii

Why he signs with KU: With Jeremiah Hatch moving back to his natural position at guard, there is a starting position available.  He enjoyed his official visit on Jan. 16 and connected well with the other players and coaches.  Hawaii doesn’t play many televised games, and South Florida’s offense is in shambles.

Why he doesn’t: The weather.  Both South Florida and Hawaii have climates that he is used to.  He should be able to play wherever he goes. 

 

Aaron Moore

Three-Star center prospect from Frisco, TX (Centennial).  A one-time Auburn commit started looking elsewhere on the 19th.  He has good size (6’5”, 255 lbs.) and could come in and automatically be the backup at center. 

Also considering: Baylor, Colorado, Kentucky, Oklahoma State, Purdue, and Utah

Why he signs with KU: KU affords him the opportunity to come in as a freshman and develop while still getting quality minutes in a reserve role if he wants it.  If he would rather, he may have the opportunity to redshirt.  KU is deep on guards and tackles, but very thin at center.

Why he doesn’t: KU has been in the hunt for this prospect for quite a while, even after he committed to Auburn.  Since he de-committed so late in the process, he hasn’t had a chance to get an official visit or a home visit yet, so he doesn’t really know how he will gel with the coaches and players.  That is one of KU’s selling points; without it, it could get tricky. 

 

William Lawson

Two-Star tackle prospect from Belleville, IL (Althoff).  He has amazing size as a high school senior and has the frame to easily pack on another 30+ pounds.  At 6’8”, 290 lbs., he is a goliath.  His skills and fundamentals are lacking, because he has never really been pushed by bigger players and better competition.  That should change in the future.

He will be considered a project tackle, and it is unlikely that he will see the field until he is into his third year with the program.  There is concern over whether or not he will be academically eligible.

Also considering: K-State, Iowa, Iowa State, New Mexico, Ball State, and Missouri

Why he signs with KU: Teammate Tom Mabry has already committed to the Jayhawks for the Class of 2009.  KU will give him plenty of time to work on skills before they expect him to start, which will take some of the pressure off.

Why he doesn’t: He can’t qualify academically or he chooses to go to a smaller program to concentrate on his grades. 

Defensive End

DeQuin Evans

Four-Star prospect out of Wilmington, CA (Los Angeles Harbor CC).  He has the size and speed to start immediately.  He is an every-down defensive end who is quick off the outside in a pass rush. 

Also considering: Arizona, Arizona State, Kansas State, Kentucky, Louisville, Oregon, USC, Washington State, and Nevada

Why he signs with KU: He made a visit to Lawrence in December, and every time he talks with another school, he continues to go back to his visit with Mark Mangino and his staff.  The visit created a lasting impression.  He will have the ability to compete for a starting position immediately.

Why he doesn’t: There are five reasons—Quintin Woods, Tyrone Sellars, Jacoby Thomas, Kevin Young, and Randall Dent.  Even knowing that three will likely redshirt and Dent will probably become an interior lineman, that is still a lot of defensive ends to contend with over the next two years. 

 

Donnie Pritchett

Four-Star defensive end prospect out of Santa Rosa, CA (Santa Rosa JC).  At 6’5”, 260 lbs. he is a fast, strong defensive end.  He has good hands and form.  If he were 25 pounds heavier, he would probably be a five-star prospect.  He doesn’t need much coaching, just direction.

He initially didn’t want to leave California, but after being all but ignored by most schools in the state, he realized that he would be forced to either walk-on or look elsewhere. 

Why he signs with KU: Of the schools on his list, he has only made a visit to Kansas.  He enjoyed the coaching staff.  KU moved to the top of his list in early January and hasn’t moved since. 

Why he doesn’t: Pritchett has the same five reasons that DeQuin Evans has. 

Safety

Bradley McDougald

Four-Star safety prospect out of Dublin, OH (Scioto).  McDougald could very well be one of the most versatile athletes that Kansas is recruiting.  He has great closing speed and times his jump very well.  He disrupts passes and covers well in both zone and man defense.  At 6’0”, 185 lbs. he has good starting size for a safety and has good vertical and lateral speed.

KU has been recruiting him for almost 10 months.  Like most DBs/WRs for KU, he could flip which side of the field he is on.  KU is the only program that he is currently interested in. 

Also considering: Louisville, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Colorado, and Indiana

Why he signs with KU: Friend and former high school teammate Josh Richardson was a redshirt freshman for KU this year.  He almost made a commitment to KU on the 21st of this month, but he wanted to wait until all of his in-home visits were complete before he made a decision. The competition for playing time is going to be wide open over the next two to three years, and Clint Bowen is not afraid to play freshmen and sophomores in the secondary. 

Why he doesn’t sign: All signs point to him wearing Crimson and Blue in the fall.  He may wait until he has had a few more in-home visits, but I don’t know if there is anything that is going to keep him from Lawrence at this point. 

 

Closing

Even though there are 10 prospects still on the board, there is no way that KU will sign all of them.  There is no need to pick up 30+ prospects if they don’t need 30+ prospects.  They don’t need all of them.  They don’t want all of them. 

The Jayhawks are trying to add a little more depth and a little more talent to the roster.  Most of the recruits will redshirt anyway, so fans shouldn’t expect to see more than a handful in games this fall.  With the exception of the JuCo players, most of these guys were signed to take the field in 2010 or 2011. 

Here is the best case scenario for KU.

· Ronnie Wingo

· Bradley McDougald

· DeQuin Evans

· Donnie Pritchett

· Tanner Poppe

· Carlos Savala

· Aaron Moore

That would give KU 30 known commitments, which would be an unusually large class, but KU would have a hard time passing up on four more Four-Star prospects, and KU needs some more depth at offensive line. 

Here is the more likely scenario:

·  Bradley McDougald

·  DeQuin Evans OR Donnie Pritchett, but probably not both.

·  Tanner Poppe

·  Carlos Savala AND/OR Aaron Moore. 

This would give KU 27-28 prospects in the class, which is still a fairly large class.  Regardless of the way that Ronnie Wingo goes, I don’t expect KU to make a late rally for Dominic Wilkins.  I only expect KU to go after William Lawson as a preferred walk-on (gray shirt) or as a scholarship player in the event that they don’t sign either Savala or Moore.  The risk/reward isn’t quite there, as Lawson’s grades are in question.

DeWayne Peace will probably not be in a KU uniform regardless of how things turn out. KU has too many receivers already committed and on their roster.

No matter how it all turns out, this will be a great class and will continue the push towards closing the talent gap with the Big XII South.

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