To date Turner Gill and the Kansas Jayhawks sit with fifteen committed players for the 2011 recruiting class. One quarterback, one runningback, one wideout, six offensive lineman, two linebackers, three defensive backs and a kicker make up the group. From the standpoint of need, Kansas has certainly addressed future depth at offensive line and they've found some strong prospects at the safety position.
Keeping each of those 15 will be a tough task and something the staff will work to do throughout the next few months. Looking a little further to the future and the players that remain on the board, who are the few that have the potential to make an impact for Kansas? Who are those handful of players that could give Coach Gill a leg up and a boost in momentum headed into 2011.
At this point it's really not even a question who priority number one needs to be, it's Maurice Couch. Couch is a highly rated defensive tackle prospect out of Garden City Community College in Kansas. Despite taking a redshirt in his first season due to injury Couch has offers from USC, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas A&M, K-State, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Kansas. There are clearly some heavy hitters in that group and to date Couch continues to indicate that Kansas is the leader.
Couch stands 6'2" 295 and originally claims Orlando Florida as home. He has the explosiveness to come in and start from day one with Kansas and make life for players like Kevin Young, Keba Agostinho and Tyrone Sellers a little easier on the edge. A marquee defensive tackle can change your defense and with Couch having three years of eligibility remaining wherever he decides to go, he's an impact recruit for Kansas and Coach Gill.
Linebacker is an area where Kansas has struggled in recent years. The depth has become a concern and in terms of proven talent in the pipeline it's still a bit of a question mark. Certainly Darius Willis and Toben Opurum are expected to help the position and if Huldon Tharp can stay healthy he will help but in building toward the future Kansas needs to add to this class.
Virgile is a 6'2" 225 pound linebacker prospect out of Miami Florida. Robert Wimberly is covering Florida for Kansas and so far he seems to have turned the heads toward Kansas than the Jayhawks have been able to do for some time. That said, Virgile might be a tough get as he currently has offers from Nebraska, Kansas State, Ole Miss, USF, and a host of MAC schools as well. Most recently he's been quoted by the Rivals network as stating he will visit Nebraska, Kansas, Kansas State, USF and Western Michigan. The Huskers could be tough to beat, but Virgile is a player that could help the Kansas linebacker situation in the future.
Same position, same story, a second recruit. Now with two linebackers already committed, the addition of Darius Willis and the position changes that have occurred I don't know that Kansas takes two more linebackers at this point. But I think there are plenty of fans who would like to see them try.
Poole is from Big Ten country, a 6'2" 210 pound outside linebacker prospect from Ohio where Reggie Mitchell has been making the rounds. The thing about Ohio is there is a lot of talent in the state and a good amount of the "late bloomers" or overlooked recruits end up in the MAC where they play some pretty solid football.
Now Poole isn't likely to end up going that route as he does have offers from Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan State, Indiana, Cincinnati, Wake Forest, Kansas and Louisiville, but he obviously isn't going to an Ohio school and that leaves the door open. The big question is, can Kansas pull him out of Big 10 country?
Poole is recently quoted by the Jayhawkslant as saying he will take his five official visits to Purdue, Wake Forest, Kansas, Kentucky and Cincinnati. Again, if Coach Gill and his staff can add Poole for the future it would be a welcome change to the recent struggles in recruiting the linebacker spot.
It's not that Mincey is a homerun, slam dunk prospect, but he is a prospect with upside at an area where Kansas is always looking for answers, defensive end. There is a strong crop of young players at Kansas playing the position, but the Jayhawks need to continue adding and finding options to keep the pipeline full. Simply put, you just don't know who is going to sink or swim and what injuries might occur so you better be well stocked.
Mincey stands 6'5" 260 pounds and is another Ohio prospect that won't be staying in Ohio. His offer list covers almost the entire MAC conference as well as others but his final two have been stated as Illinois and Kansas. With Ron Zook on thin ice in Champaign, this might be one of the best shots Kansas has to add to the position.
The Jayhawks offered Mincey very early on in the spring and he's been high on their board since the beginning. So landing Mincey would mean Coach Gill has gone out and pulled one of their top targets out of the state of Ohio. That's a win.
Regardless of what you think of Miller's decommitment or the Jayhawks chances at this point, Darrian Miller is someone that would serve Kansas well. At his current position at running back he's the best in the Kansas City metro area and owning and controlling those recruiting battles is going to be something that Reggie Mitchell and Coach Gill will want to do in the future.
Offers from Iowa, Wisconsin, K-State, Kansas and Minnesota to date and I think it's possible Miller is a player that some schools move on late. I know many think this is a longshot at this point, but Miller continues to be a priority for Kansas and for a variety of reasons he can help impact the Kansas program if he decides to join the Jayhawks.