Up Next: 12:15pm CST Linebacker previews on Huldon Tharp, Julian Jones and Jacoby Thomas
The big boys upfront can make or break a team. It's not coincidence in football that some of the best teams will often have the best lineman and Kansas went out and continued to develop depth for the future with the bigs up front.
Build from the inside out is the theory on offense and with this offensive line class Kansas added a trio of offensive tackles. Riley Spencer, Gavin Howard and Tom Mabry are all 6'5"+ 270 lb+ players coming in to bolster the depth on the o-line. None should be looked at as immediate impacts as is often the case with the offensive line but all are great prospects for the future.
With the defensive front four Kansas went all out addressing this area with defensive tackles and defensive ends alike. It's clear the staff has identified this area as critical to defending the potent spread offenses of the Big 12. Randall Dent, Travis Stephens, Quintin Woods and RCT favorites Kevin Young and Tyrone Sellers round out the five recruits brought in to help this unit.
So what should we make of this set of recruits??
Jump into the post for breakdown, interviews and videos...
We'll start with the homegrown talent and Riley Spencer on the offensive side of the ball. Spencer stands a legit 6'6" and is up to a reported 290 pounds with an extensive offseason workout regimen despite recovering from recent shoulder surgery. Spencer hails from Hesston Kansas and while it's always tough to give a great breakdown of offensive line recruits Spencer could turn out to be a steal down the road. He's got great feet, a strong work ethic and will be a tackle all the way for the Jayhawks come fall.
Here's a video of Spencer's Junior year highlight tape, basically the one most colleges evaluated him on. You'll see his Spencer #76 played in a primarily run first offense so with some solid coaching he could end up being a diamond in the rough for this class.
Next up is Owasso Oklahoma tackle Gavin Howard. Howard was sold early on the Jayhawks and following the summer OL/DL camp committed to John Reagan and the Jayhawks. Howard stands 6'5" and like Spencer has reported a solid weight gain getting up to 290 over the course of his senior year. Howard is probably the only one of the three coming in that could potentially make a move to the inside. Here's a video of Howard starting from Jayhawk camp courtesy of scout.com. Gavin will also turn up in a Kevin Young video down the page.
Also had the opportunity to speak with Gavin for the first time and here's what he had to say leading up to signing day:
Howard's lead recruiter was former Kansas d-line coach Joe Bob Clements.
The last member of the offensive line class is very much an unknown commodity. Tom Mabry out of Althoff Illinois has been very quiet throughout the entire year when it comes to interviews and very little tape is out there of him. All I think you need to know about this one is he has said that Ed Warriner has been recruiting him since he was a sophomore in high school. If that's the case then that's good enough for me. Mabry stands 6'5"-6'6" and right now weighs around 270. Jayhawkslant has recently reported that when he wraps up his high school wrestling career his goal is to be at 300 by the time he heads to Lawrence. Mabry much like Howard and Spencer will provide solid depth in the future and a year or two in the Kansas strength program could turn these guys into a formidable crew.
On again, off again and then one last time on again Kevin Young has ended up in Lawrence. We talked to Kevin early in the year as part of our "Rock Chalk Talk" interviews and he's always been good to RCT. That said I'm sure glad I didn't have to root against this one. Standing 6'4" 230 lbs Kevin is already on campus and working hard with the hopes of making an immediate impact in 2009.
Kevin received a ton of offers based on a huge upside and after entertaining a few and some last minute revalations he gave Clint Bowen the final nod and is looking forward to a career with Kansas and the defensive staff.
Several videos out there on Young starting with his junior season highlight tape. With the intro in this one it's no wonder he ended up a Jayhawk.
Super Jayhawk camp breakdown of Kevin also a little on Gavin Howard as well as a cameo of former commit Ty Cloud now headed to Houston all courtesy of Scout.
Another friend of the RCT community Tyrone Sellers will join the defensive end unit in 2009 as a potential speed rusher of the future. In our interview with Sellers early in the fall he talked a lot about the Kansas coaching staff believing in him as a defensive end prospect and how that really influenced his final decision to become a Jayhawk.
Sellers stands 6'4" 215 and with a 4.6 40 time has the potential to be a threat off the edge for the Jayhawks. Sellers had grown up a Husker fan but after being largely ignored by his home state school he gladly signs with Kansas and I can guarantee one date he has circled on his calendar.
If Sellers can add good weight, maintain his speed of the edge and develop under the Kansas coaching staff he could be a great asset down the road. Gatorade Player of the year honors in the state of Nebraska and a significant bump in his recruiting ranking were rewards earned by Sellers during a dominating senior season.
Tyrone took a few moments with RCT again leading up to signing day and here are his thoughts.
Rivals.com video from the Junior Army Combine in 2008 has a couple of one on one's featuring Sellers.
...and a rivals.com one on one video from th Texas Nike OL/DL camp. Also keep your eye out for a Riley Spencer cameo in this one.