A huge position of need for the Jayhawks heading into this recruiting cycle was the defensive line. Kansas has not been the most successful in recent years when it comes to landing defensive tackles specifically and that has force some position changes and some patchwork rotations.
For the Kansas defense to improve, this is an area that absolutely had to be addressed. It needs to be addressed from all sides really. That includes better development of those players already inside the program and it obviously includes a need for an injection of additional talent at the position. Kansas needs competition and options in the worst way and it needs the makings of a legitimate rotation at defensive tackle. The good news is that Kansas has at least recruited to that need and they've focused on player that can possibly contribute immediately.
DT | 6-3 | 310 | Athens Texas / Trinity CC
McKinney was the first commitment at the defensive tackle position for Kansas this year. In fact he actually committed to Kansas position coach Buddy Wyatt when the Jayhawks were in between head coaches. It's rare that a player commits to a head coachless program but Wyatt made a big enough impression with McKinney that he felt comfortable in doing so.
McKinney had offers from several Sun Belt schools and a pair of Conference USA schools as well before Kansas entered the picture. As a Texas native, the opportunity to play in the Big 12 was a major factor in his decision. McKinney was named defensive player in his district as a senior in the Fort Worth area and he'll be expected to step in and contribute immediately with the Kansas defensive tackle position in need of a few more bodies.
DT | 6-3 | 280 | Torrance Californina / El Camino CC
Tavai represents the most recent commitment on the defensive front for Kansas. He was named a junior college all american at El Camino CC this past year and claimed some pretty solid BCS offers including a fellow Big 12 team in Texas Tech. In fact it was just after his official visit to Tech that Tavai made the call to commit to Kansas and he ended up replacing Wichita product Chanquil Reed who's offer was pulled off the table when he elected to visit Kansas State.
During his most recent year at El Camino, Tavai recorded 50 tackles, six sacks and eight TFL's while leading one of the top defenses in the country. If Tavai can continue to develop physically and in terms of his technique, he will most certainly factor into the Jayhawk rotation next year.
It's really a model that has worked very well for a team just down the road. Kansas just hasn't effectively developed much if any of the junior college talent that they have targeted. With Weis filling a large chunk of this class with JuCo players, that will need to change for Kansas to make some immediate improvements.
DT | 6-3 | 270 | Sachse Texas / Sachse HS
Holmes represents the only high school player that was added on the defensive line with this class. That's a good start for the future but Kansas and Weis will need to continue adding pieces with the 2013 class as well.
Holmes projects as a defensive tackle but during his high school playing days he was able to rotate between both the end position and the tackle position due to his versatility. Early on most of the interest in Holmes was coming from the Sun Belt and Conference USA similar to Ty McKinney. Almost from the moment Kansas got involved, they were viewed as the favorite.
Now yes it would be nice to compete with Tech, Baylor or some other BCS level school for the talent that we end up landing. Considering the last minute nature of this class and the struggles these past two seasons, it seems most important to address needs and then work like crazy to develop the talent.
That's where Holmes fits in. He's quoted as saying that he expects to compete. Ideally he'll have the opportunity to redshirt while some of the upperclassman and junior college players carry the load.
DE/DT | 6-3 | 280 | Milledgeville Georgia / Georgia Military College
Stowers, like Tavai, had some other strong BCS offers and is a player that Weis targeted early on during his tenure. Stowers had offers from Louisville, Indiana, Iowa State and Troy. It's likely that Stowers would have seen more interest had he been the primary player in the rotation but he split time with another defensive tackle who held offers from several SEC programs including Alabama.
The goal for Stowers is to push his weight up to 290 or higher and move him to defensive tackle. There's probably a chance he could work in at defensive end as well, but it seems that his primary position is likely going to be on the defensive interior which is where Kansas needs the most help.
Stowers will have three years to play at Kansas which is another positive for the Jayhawks. That means that while McKinney and Tavai are here for two years, Stowers has a larger window to contribute and make an impact with the Jayhawks.