Common perception around the Jayhawk program since their Orange Bowl season of 2007 is that the Jayhawks had stepped up their recruiting and in turn prepared themselves to take another step forward with the program in the years to come. This season the Jayhawks will field one of the more talented teams they have ever had. The question becomes now whether the Kansas program has established enough of a foundation to build on this ground floor effort and carry it to the next level.
There is not tried and true way to know if a program will make that leap until the players step on the field and perform to expectation or fail to achieve expectations, but recruiting can provide a glimpse of what might be around the corner.
Now let me be the first to say though that those starting on the team during the last two seasons and some even this season certainly overachieved their perceived value as recruits. That said this is never a guaranteed indicator because work ethic, coaching and development play a key role. Assuming all else the same though, I thought it might be interesting to look from a recruit rankings aspect at the depth chart in '07 and '08 vs. a projected chart in '10 and '11
Breakdown After the Jump...
Starting with the 2007 Orange Bowl Jayhawks who finished an amazing 12-1 overall. Schedule arguments aside this was a leap few would have ever expected and it did give hope for some long term stability in the program for the first time in a long time. Starters in 2007 with their associated rivals rankings looked a little bit like this:
2007 2008 Changes
QB - Todd Reesing 2006 3*
WR - Dezmon Briscoe 2006 3*
WR - Dexton Fields 2004 2* Johnathan Wilson 2007 2*
LG - Adrian Mayes 2005 Walk on
C - Ryan Cantrell 2004 2*
RG - Chet Hartley 2007 3*
RT - C. Rodriguez 2003 2* Jeff Spikes 2007 2*
DE - Russell Brorson 2005 2*
DT - Caleb Blakesly 2005 3*
DT - James McClinton 2004 3* Richard Johnson Jr. 2007 3*
LB - Mike Rivera 2004 3*
LB - Joe Mortensen 2004 2*
LB - James Holt 2004 2* (DB)
S - Darrell Stuckey 2005 3*
S - Justin Thornton 2005 3* Phillip Strozier 2006 3*
CB - Chris Harris 2007 2* Daymond Patterson 2008 3*
2007 we started NINE 3*'s, TEN 2*'s and THREE Unranked players per rivals rankings. Average 2.14
2008 We started FOURTEEN 3*'s, SEVEN 2*'s and ONE Unranked player per rivals recruit rankings. Average 2.54
Now while looking ahead is a very imperfect science and I'll go conservatively on this, let's take a look at possible projections at the different positions for 2010 and 2011. For what it's worth I am going to use the 4-2-5 set for this one as well.
2010 2011 Changes
QB - Kale Pick 2008 3*
RB - Toben Opurum 2009 4*
WR - Johnathan Wilson 2007 2* Keeston Terry 4* (could also be a # of 3* guys)
WR - Erick McGriff 2009 3*
WR - Bradley McDougald 2009 4*
TE - Tim Biere 2008 3*
LT - Tanner Hawkinson 2008 3*
LG - John Williams 2008 3*
C - Jeremiah Hatch 2007 3*
RG - Trevor Marrongelli 2008 3*
RT - Jeff Spikes 2007 2*
DE - Jake Laptad 2007 2* Kevin Young 3*
DT - Duane Zlatnik 2008 3*
DT - Richard Johnson 2007 3*
DE - Quinton Woods 2009 4* 3* Pipeline(Marshall, Sellers, Dent, G Grissom)
LB - Justin Springer 2007 3* Julian Jones 3*
LB - Vernon Brooks 2009 3*(speculative) Huldon Tharp 3*
CB - Daymond Patterson 2008 3*
CB - Anthony Davis 2007 3* 3* Pipeline(G. Brown, C Powell, Patmon)
S - Chris Harris 2007 2* Dexter Linton 3*
S - Phillip Strozier 2006 3* Lubbock Smith 3*
S - Prinz Kande 2009 4*
Again this is purely speculative but in most instances the replacement for anyone I've plugged in would be of equal value in terms of recruiting to the ones they are replacing.
2010 FOUR 4*'s, FOURTEEN 3*'s, FOUR 2*'s. Average 3
2011 FOUR 4*'s, SEVENTEEN 3*'s, ONE 2*. Average 3.12
So what does this all mean? Well honestly absolutely nothing. It does mean that our 2007 and 2008 teams wildly outperformed expectations. What it doesn't mean though is that there is any guarentee of continued success.
However, recruit ranking are a good barometer for future success and what Kansas did in the past 2 seasons isn't necessarily the rule. With the increase in talent in the program I'd suspect and hope that all else equal we can expect competitive football to remain a part of the Kansas landscape for a little while longer.