Next Up: Offensive Line 9:30AM CST
A year ago there were two positions where it seemed Kansas would have a substantial amount of depth headed into the year. Those were at wideout and tight end. The biggest issue seemed to be the overall readiness of the talent at reciever and offensive cohesiveness in general.
Tight end seems to have some young talent upcoming in Jimmay Mundine and Trent Smiley to go along with seniors Tim Biere and AJ Steward.
At wideout the Jayhawks will have a host of big possession reciever types although most are fairly inexperienced. A year ago the Jayhawks lost two all time greats in Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier and rebuilding from that has taken some time. In the slot the Jayhawks return two upperclassman in DJ Beshears and Daymond Patterson and with both entering the final year or two of their Kansas careers a staff that has preached speed since their arrival seemed keyed in on adding more of that to the position.
JaCorey Shepherd - WR - 5'11" 170 - 4.5 Forty Time
Rivals Profile 3* ESPN Profile - 3* Scout Profile - 3*
Committed: 7/30/10 (Switch From Iowa)
Breakdown: If you go based simply off measurables Shepherd looks pretty similar too a guy that everyone was very excited about in Anthony Pierson. Yes Shepherd is a step slower, but the receiver that was once committed to the Iowa Hawkeyes does have very good speed, elusiveness and the ability to run after the catch. He's a slot player that can be a gamebreaker for coach Gill and brings speed to the receiving corps for the future.
Question Marks: He's a slot guy, he's a little bit smaller and that's the primary question. Not a huge deal for what Gill appears to want him to do, but it's about the only knock on him. He's a good player, from the state of Texas that had multiple BCS schools interested. Wideout wasn't viewed as a position of need prior to the season, but once things got going it was clear that an upgrade in speed was needed and Shepherd helps accomplish that.
Marquis Jackson - WR - 6' 210 - 4.4 Forty Time
Rivals Profile - 3* ESPN Profile - 3* Scout Profile - 3*
Senior Stats: 44 Catches, 1186 Yards, 27 YPC. First Team All State in Texas
Breakdown: What's not to be excited about? Jackson is a thicker slot type player with even better speed than Shepherd. Jackson was also offered by a host of Big 12 schools and ultimately chose the Jayhawks over a Big 12 foe in Baylor. That's a win any day of the week. Jackson is legitimately a great combination and a very well built prospect at receiver. Size, speed, physicality. Sign me up for the fan club on this one.
Question Marks: The legitimacy of the reported speed has come into question with some services saying he has good speed and others reporting great speed. For him being a very late addition to the Jayhawk class at a spot that isn't necessarily the biggest need, I'd guess Gill likes his speed quite a bit.
Brandon Olson - TE - 6'4" 230 - 4.7 Forty Time
Rivals Profile - unranked
Senior Stats: All District Tight End
Olson is expected to sign with the Jayhawks as a grayshirt with the 2011 class. Tight end is a spot that will likely need an addition in 2012 with the departure of Biere and Steward but it isn't one with an immediate need so this gives Olson an extra year to develop by enrolling a year from now instead of in the fall.
Essentially it's the same path that defensive end Julius Green has taken. He'll have a year to develop physically, come in next spring and still have four years of eligibility. For Turner Gill to have the ability to add players in this fashion is pretty impressive all things considered. Another bonus with Olson is he's a player that some think could develop into an offensive lineman depending on how things work out.