Defensively Kansas still has a long way to go and the roster stands to change significantly depending on how the junior college recruiting pans out over the coming weeks. That said, Dave Campo did some very good things with this years group and even though the talent and depth still needs an upgrade, Kansas was overachieving at times this year. Overachieving is something we really haven't seen since before Mangino's final season at Kansas.
SDE - Ben Goodman or Jordan Tavai/Darius Willis
WDE - Michael Reynolds/Darius Willis
By the end of the season Goodman played more at end than anyone in this group but there could be a lot of options depending on how the JUCO recruiting shapes up. We could even see Keba back in the mix at the strongside spot. Reynolds was a fairly hyped player in the offseason but couldn't push past Toben last year. Can he take the next step and can Darius Willis build on his moderate success after the position change? Do we see Jordan Tavai move outside as Weis has alluded to? That likely depends on tackle depth but it's probably a slim possibility. There are also some very intriguing recruits from the JUCO level that could significantly impact this spot, but for now it shakes out as a group that has some improving players, but they might need to make a big leap if that's all we're going to be working with.
DT - Kevin Young or John Williams/Keon Stowers
DT - Jordan Tavai/Keba Agostinho
If John Williams returns, he's in the conversation but he will have to apply for another year if he wants to do so. Otherwise you probably start Young and Tavai based on what we have at this point in time. Hopefully there is help on the way, but honestly this group did come a long way from two seasons ago and Young, Tavai and Keba were all doing a decent job up front. Stowers needs to continue to improve but he certainly has the potential. Again, we could use a boost to depth and there is definitely opportunity for a new face here, but this could be a group returning entirely intact and they have shown marked improvement.
WLB - Huldon Tharp/Prinze Kande
MLB - Ben Heeney/Schyler Miles
OLB - Jake Love/Courtney Arnick
Another position that could change drastically between now and even this Spring. In reality you can say that about the entire defense because upgrading the talent on this side of the ball is a priority. That said, this group had some fire. There are mixed feeling about how exactly effective they were, but the biggest liability is in pass coverage. In other areas, they were solid and Jake Love and Ben Heeney are fun to watch because they attack. Schyler Miles and Courtney Arnick are two freshman that Weis has been pretty high on so they should compete and hopefully Prinz Kande can return to the lineup without taking a huge step back due to injury.
CB Jacorey Shepherd/???
CB Tyler Patmon or Greg Allen
Nickel Tyler Patmon
Scary thought that this position is losing the best player we had and there isn't much known relief on the roster. Ideally Patmon needs to be a nickel guy. He did well there under Gill, can't seem to grasp the corner roll as well. Can Shepherd turn into the player Campo envisions? That would be great. Greg Allen is a freshman that has received a lot of praise as well and could challenge. Again, just like every spot, there needs to be a junior college player in this mix and at the moment the commitment list has at least one that sounds promising with one more strong possibility but that's for another post.
S - Dexter Linton/Ray Mitchell or Alex Matlock
PLEASE find help. Not that someone on this list couldn't develop into a player but gut reaction sure doesn't give a lot of confidence in the safety position. Victor Simmons actually moved to outside linebacker this year but he might need to move back depending on how thing shake out. Linton has really never shown enough to provide much confidence. The best thing going for the other three is that they are selling hope, hope is a much easier sell than results. Either way the entire secondary is going to present a pretty big challenge for this defensive staff.