I am a self-proclaimed recruiting guru. I follow recruiting like brokers follow stocks. I like to be in "the know" when it comes to KU athletics. I'm on Rivals, Scout, ESPN, and various other recruiting hubs on a daily basis.
I also study a lot of recruit film in addition to catching as many of the recruits' games as I can. Doing this affords me the opportunity to play the "I told you so card" when an obscure freshman or sophomore gets playing time.
Next year's recruiting classes may be the most important class in the Mangino era. Players like Todd Reesing, Jake Sharp, and Kerry Meier will be graduating.
While it appears that there are capable reserves on the depth chart to take over for them when they are gone, there is no reason why a talented freshman can't come in and start.
The 2010 recruiting class may be the first real step for KU with regards to closing the talent gap with some of the other Big XII schools.
Even before Christmas, KU has extended seven offers to players in the Class of 2010. While the fact that they have extended these offers is not significant, the caliber of player they have extended them to IS, as are the schools that KU is competing with FOR these recruits.
The early focus for the Class of 2010 is skill position players, primarily at WR and RB, with four of the seven players that KU has offered coming from these two positions.
KU may decide to focus on linebackers as well, depending on what the depth chart at that position looks like after spring practice.
As a rule, Coach Mangino likes to sign three or four offensive linemen every year. Over the last two years, KU has signed or received commitments from eight prospects on the defensive line as well as eight more prospects in the defensive secondary.
They will still go after prospects in those areas, but I project that they will be more selective than normal. At this point, KU has the ability to try to recruit players for the future instead of players to fill immediate needs in those areas.
On average, KU typically signs about 22 prospects per year. Both the 2005 and 2006 classes had 25 or more prospects in them. The class of 2008 had 20 recruits.
The class of 2009 already has 18 commits, and KU is still high on several lists of prospects they have offered.
Factoring in that KU will graduate only 18 players next year but 26 players the year after, KU will probably sign a class slightly above their average. I am expecting a class of around 24.
Expected Breakdown of Commits (Class of 2010):
After looking at the list of prospects that have already been offered, KU doesn't appear to be afraid of going after big-time recruits. A lot of up-and-coming programs try to find the best recruits available to them, while KU appears to be going after the best recruits.
As a fan, this tells me KU is not content to win six or seven games every year. This shows me they want more and they are moving in the right direction.
Prospects who have already been offered:
Blake Bell: 4-Star
Pos: QB (Dual-Threat)
WT: 200 lbs.
Home: Wichita, KS (Bishop Carroll)
Recruited by: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Kansas State, Miami (Fla), Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas Tech
Thoughts: I have seen this kid in person and he looks like he is the real deal. He has NFL-caliber height, which would be a big plus in KU's system. Bishop Carroll High School runs a shotgun spread offense, similar to what is played at KU, OU, and TT.
As a sophomore, he threw for 1,794 yards and 19 touchdowns while completing over 63% of his passes. As a junior, he threw for 3,231 yards and 37 touchdowns. As a runner, he has good vision and moves.
Bell has good, although not great, speed. As a passer, he has good arm strength, great vision, a great touch, and throws with near pinpoint accuracy inside of 25 yards. As of now, he isn't really leaning any way in particular.
Justin McCay: 5-Star
WT: 200 lbs.
Home: Shawnee, KS (Bishop Miege)
Recruited by: Colorado, Florida, KU, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon, K-State, Mizzou, and Wisconsin
Thoughts: I have seen some film on this kid. He has great size, speed, vision, and can move through traffic well. He runs great routes. As a blocker, he is average. I don't have his stats from this year.
As a sophomore, he had 21 catches for 610 yards and six touchdowns. He is a true game-changing receiver. He does not have a lean as of right now. Every day, more offers are coming in.
Corey Nelson: 4-Star
Pos: Outside LB
WT: 210 lbs
Home: Dallas (Skyline)
Recruited by: Florida, KU, LSU, Nebraska, OU, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UCLA
Thoughts: Film is hard to come by and I live about a million miles away from Dallas, so I haven't had a chance to see or hear much on this prospect. He has street credibility and great stats.
As a junior, he had 156 tackles and 12 sacks as well as at least two blocked punts that I have been able to account for. He currently plays DE and has been named to the Texas 5A All-State team as a sophomore and a junior.
While slightly undersized, Nelson has incredible speed for a linebacker. He can easily tack 10-20 pounds on his frame and play the strong side.
Like McCay, the list of schools pushing to get this prospect is getting longer by the day, although KU has remained in his top 5 consistently.
Evan Washington: 4-Star
Home: Desoto, Texas (DeSoto)
Recruited by: Florida, Kansas, Kansas State, Miami, OU, USC, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech
Thoughts: Washington didn't play football until this year, and instantly took to the sport earning All-District honors in his first year. He has great size, and reach. If not for him being completely raw, he would be a 5-Star recruit.
He has next to no polish, and at times his lack of experience shows. I am truly excited about this prospect. He has nothing but upside, and is the type of player that could come in and have a significant role as a freshman.
I fully expect this prospect to improve greatly between his junior and senior year as he gets more knowledge about fundamentals and blocking schemes. He is already good, he could end up great.
Keeston Terry: NR
WT: 180 lbs
Home: Blue Springs, Mo. (Blue Springs)
Recruited by: KU, K-State, Mizzou, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida State, Alabama, and Iowa
Thoughts: Terry is the son of former Jayhawk and Kansas City Chief Doug Terry. His parents and his high school coach are KU alumni. As a player he lacks game-breaker speed, but has soft hands and runs crisp routes. He may still grow as well.
He already has a great relationship with the Kansas coaching staff. He is not afraid of working to play as well. He is a local prospect and as of now, all signs point to him staying local (KU, K-State, Mizzou, Iowa).
Ben Malena: NR
WT: 169 lbs.
Home: Cedar Hill, TX (Cedar Hill)
Recruited by: Florida, Iowa, Kansas, K-State, OU, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Baylor, and Texas
Thoughts: Malena looks to be a cross between Darren Sproles and Quizz Rodgers. He is a short, shifty, fast back with soft hands. He disappears behind the line until he can find a seam and then cuts up field. He doesn't quite have game-breaker speed, but once he commits to a hole he has a great initial burst. If he has a seam on the outside, he has the ability to pick up huge chunks of yardage before anyone can catch him. His stats are eye-popping. As a sophomore he had 92 carries for 524 yards and 5 TD's to go with 4 catches for 51 yards. That was all done as a reserve. As a junior he rushed for 2,202 yards on 324 carries and had 35 TD's to go with 23 receptions for 307 yards and 2 scores. Some schools question his durability at the next level as an every-down back.