To the victor go the spoils.
There are few environments where that quote summarizes the essence of the sport more than college football. The reason this season has been the weirdest (and best) of all time is that the long stretches of dominance lasting decades and decades are coming to a close, in this new age of college football. The spread offense has narrowed the gap between, say, the Appalachian States and Michigans of the world. That and coaching.
And while the big boys continue to receive the vast majority of highly prized recruits, the number of kids just dying to sit on the bench for 3 years at Miami before starting as a senior is approaching zero. In this increasing age of college football parity, 18 year old kids are heading towards the promise of playing time and the fun, exciting spread offense as opposed to tradition-rich schools. Thus, the upset. Dozens of talented kids, talented enough to at least garner some interest from the Texases of the world but not good enough to be awarded anything more than a spot on the bench, are instead heading to places where they are able to start as true freshman. Like Kansas, for example.
The success we have had this season is just the beginning, and the biggest reason is recruiting. Mark Mangino, or Mangenius as he will from here-on-out be called at RCT, has given playing time to true freshmen time and time again. Want examples? Third WR Dezmon Briscoe drew interest from Texas schools, but we were the only one that said 'If you perform in practice, you will play in the games'. Pass-rushing specialist Jake Laptad drew little interest, but is seeing more and more action as the season progresses. He is likely in a position to start as early as next season at defensive end.
Which brings us to today's news of the day, the signing of two new defensive ends. Both highly regarded, both figured to go elsewhere, before the combination of success and the possibility of early playing time was presented. When you are 18, how can you turn that down?
The more prized of the two, and the one I figure to be the better player in the future, is Duane Zlatnik. A Kansas kid, he was assumed to head to K-State, the Kansas team who, at the time, seemed to have a brighter future. He is a big boy and, most importantly, a wrestler. Or at least wrestled in high school. Wrestlers tend to have an advantage battling in the trenches, they know how to adjust their weight to create leverage against the opponent and all that good, fun stuff. He will play next season, book it, probably starting in a similar situation as Laptad started this season.
The other recruit, Nick Plato, had previously committed to Boston College before deciding on Kansas. He also received serious interest from K-State, Wisconsin, Florida, Illinois and Okie State. He figures to be more of a speed-rusher, standing at 6'6" 228, but will also likely see action his first season at KU. He also plays TE in high school, and has said before publicly that he would prefer to play TE in college as well. We already have two TE recruits committed to the Jayhawks, Tanner Hawkinson and Tim Biere, but I wouldn't be shocked to have the coaching staff give him a shot at both in spring practice. At the end of the day though, I see him as a DE, adding more depth to the unit with the least of it so far this season.
Success breeds success. We are seeing that right in front of our eyes.
Enjoy this season's ride, because the first is always the most fun and most enjoyable. And most surprising. But this won't be a one-time thing, as most of the country still believes. No, Kansas football is here to stay, and we don't intend on leaving anytime soon.
We want our 'Decade of Dominance' to last longer than 10 years.