The 2009 recruiting class is all but wrapped up. Rivals ranked the class of 2009 31st nationally and 5th in the Big XII. The class has a strong defensive lean, with 15 of the 25 new recruits slotted on the defensive side of the ball. On paper, it is by far the best class that KU has had under Mark Mangino.
Please take a moment to be excited.
The moment is over. It is time to move on.
The heart of college football is recruiting. Recruiting is a year round process. It never stops. It doesn't take time to eat. It never sleeps. It just keeps going and going.
The recruiting landscape has changed drastically in the last ten years, due in large part to the success of Texas coach Mack Brown. In years past, colleges were able to begin recruiting evaluations and start drafting prospects lists in the spring. They would evaluate those prospects in the fall and offer them in the winter.
If a school did that now, they would never be able to sign a full class...let alone a good class.
Prospects are committing earlier and earlier each year. Texas already has ten commitments for the Class of 2010. 19 of Texas’ 20 signees in 2009 had committed by June of 2008. As it stands, colleges must follow that trend or risk falling off a recruit’s radar entirely.
Most schools have their prospect lists already drafted and a lot of player evaluations done before spring practice and are already extending scholarship offers. KU is no different. Three players committed to Kansas by July 2006 for the Class of 2007. The Class of 2008 had four commits by July, 2007. The Class of 2009 had nine commitments by July, 2008. This trend of gathering more early commitments must continue if KU has any hope of closing the talent gap further with the likes of Texas and Oklahoma.
Recruiting will be anything but easy in 2010. In addition to the normal challenges that KU faces, there are new foes on the recruiting trail. KU lost out on four players to Arkansas in 2009, including a prospect that was a KU commit. Bill Snyder’s return to K-State has the potential to throw a serious monkey wrench into KU’s ability to recruit in-state.
Fear not, all is not lost. In spite of all of the challenges that KU will face on the recruiting trails next year, there are several important factors that are tilting the scales in the Jayhawks favor for the Class of 2010.
1. Bill Miller Co-Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach has traditionally recruited the state of Florida and the Jayhawk Conference (JuCo) almost exclusively. There is no reason to expect that to change any time soon. Both are areas that the Jayhawks have had mild-success with in the past, and areas that should improve with Miller spearheading the effort.
2. Ed Warriner’s push to recruit the state of Ohio appears to finally be panning out. In the last two years, KU has been able to sign two recruits from the state. While that is only a drop in the bucket, it isn’t as if Texas prospects were beating down the door to play at KU five years ago either. The addition of Defensive Line Coach Tom Sims, formerly of Illinois, should improve the effectiveness of recruiting in the heart of Big Ten country.
3. The depth of talented players in the state of Kansas and the KC Metro area for the Class of 2010 is probably the strongest it has been in at least a decade. The player rankings are not out yet, but I will be really surprised if there aren’t quite a few 4- and 5-Star prospects in those two regions.
4. Graduation will hit the Jayhawks hard after the 2009-2010 football season. Virtually every player at a skill position will be graduating after next year. That means that there will be a lot of starting jobs up for grabs. The ability to come in and start on a high octane offense should entice several talented recruits to make Lawrence their home.
The University of Kansas is finally getting to the point where they can no longer be considered a fluke program. Over the last four years, the Jayhawks have won nearly 70% of their games as well as three bowl games in the same span. As KU continues to show that it can consistently win games and get to bowls, Lawrence becomes a more attractive place attend school for potential recruits. If nothing else, the last two years have proved that.
The Jayhawks have a lot of things working in their favor for the Class of 2010. If Mark Mangino’s team is able to take care of business on the field, the recruiting should be able to take care of itself.