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A review of Charlie Weis' JUCO recruiting strategy at Kansas

A look at each JUCO recruit that Weis brought to Lawrence, and they impact they had.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

It's no secret that head football coach David Beaty and his staff find themselves in a tough spot where the roster is concerned at Kansas this year. Due to recruiting class size limitations, Beaty was unable to fill the roster with the maximum of 85 scholarship athletes this year, and it will likely take a few more heavy recruiting cycles to do so. It's also no secret that Kansas football finds itself in this predicament due to the failed recruiting strategy of Beaty's predecessor, Charlie Weis.

When Weis came to Kansas, he was open about his admiration of Bill Snyder's work in turning Kansas State's program around. In an attempt to mimic Snyder's success with filling roster gaps with top-notch junior college talent, Weis took to the juco circuit, attempting to quickly infuse the roster with a shot of experienced talent. Unfortunately, many of these juco transfers, specifically the biggest names, didn't pan out. As a result, Weis' teams were of an underwhelming talent level and, perhaps more significantly, the roster found itself in rapid transition. After the 2014 season, a combination of attrition and seniority left newcomer David Beaty with a depleted and inexperienced roster.

So who were these juco players Weis mortgaged the future to bring to Lawrence? How many of them paid off and found success at Kansas? Today we review each junior college player Weis signed, and what they've been able to accomplish.

QB Turner Baty (class of 2012)

My first reaction when hearing this name was: "who?" Baty signed on to play for Weis in 2012, but after redshirting and getting buried on the depth chart, he transferred to UC Davis where, from what I could gather, he never played a down.

TE Charles Brooks (2012)

Brooks got into a few games on special teams as a junior, then played sparingly at tight end as a senior, finishing his Kansas career with two catches.

RB Taylor Cox (2012)

Thanks to two medical redshirts, Cox is still on the roster. After a respectable 464 yards on 91 carries in his first junior year, he saw two consecutive seasons derailed by knee injuries. He will likely be a few names down on the depth chart this year, as we haven't seen him in a game since September 2013.

WR Josh Ford (2012)

Josh Ford was a maniac on special teams for two years. While he only caught nine passes at KU, he also blocked three punts and made a number of big hits on kick and punt coverage.

DT Ty McKinney (2012)

After redshirting in 2012, McKinney saw quite a bit of playing time at the DT position in 2013, logging 16 tackles. He was in the mix for a starting spot in 2014 when it was abruptly announced during spring football that he was no longer on the roster.

DB Nasir Moore (2012)

Nas Moore redshirted his junior year, then was gone from the team and never played college football.

LB Jon Shelby (2012)

Shelby left the program for "personal reasons" before ever playing a down. He went on to play sparingly at Akron for two years.

DT Keon Stowers (2012)

Stowers was one of the more successful members of this class.  A nose tackle with three years of eligibility at Kansas, he compiled 58 tackles (6 TFL) and was a team captain for two years.

DT Jordan Tavai (2012)

A two-year starter, Tavai was able to contribute in a mix of rotating linemen in 2012 and 2013. He logged 30 tackles (5.5 for loss) and 3 QB hurries as a senior.

OT Aslam Sterling (2012)

Sterling played in all 12 games as a junior, then started all 12 as a senior. Sterling got a camp invite with the Denver Broncos in 2014, but didn't stick on a roster.

DE Andrew Bolton (2013)

Bolton redshirted his first year while recovering from injury, then started off and on last year. He's expected to start again this year after logging 1.5 sacks and 16 tackles last year.

WR Rodriguez Coleman (2013)

Coleman came to Kansas with three years to play, and through two he's seen time in 17 games. Coaches have raved about his size and skills, but there have been questions about effort. Coleman has just 11 catches to date, and his status on the team is up in the air after an offseason arrest led to being suspended for the spring game.

DT Marquel Combs (2013)

Combs was an integral piece of the juco "dream team" in 2013, after choosing Kansas over offers from Baylor, Kansas State, Ole Miss and Missouri, among others. However, Combs only suited up once and never played a down, choosing to abruptly transfer shortly after the start of the 2013 season. No reasons for the transfer were ever made public, but Combs ended up at Southeastern Louisiana, where he quietly logged 30 tackles and 1.5 sacks over two years combined.

LB Samson Faifili (2013)

Faifili played only one season at Kansas, and missed much of it due to injury. He left that offseason, opting to walk on with the Utah Utes. He didn't play for Utah, and appears to be headed to Utah State for his last season of eligibility.

OL Zach Fondal (2013)

After playing four games as a junior, Fondal never ended up in camp with Kansas in 2014.

OL Ngalu Fusimalohi (2013)

Fusimalohi was one of very few bright spots on the o-line at Kansas in 2013 and 2014, earning honorable mention All-Big 12 distinction after his junior year. He started every game of his senior year before a knee injury ended his season and career.

LB Marcus Jenkins-Moore (2013)

Jenkins-Moore's path was similar to that of Marquel Combs. He chose Kansas over offers from some very high-quality programs, but like Combs, never played in a Kansas uniform. Jenkins-Moore suffered a season ending knee injury in fall camp in 2013, and still was unable to play spring ball in 2014. Last summer, he transferred to North Dakota, but never played a game.

S Isaiah Johnson (2013)

After winning Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2013, Johnson started every game for Kansas in 2014. Unfortunately, he left the depleted secondary high and dry in 2015, electing to transfer to South Carolina.

DT Tedarian Johnson (2013)

The big nose tackle played in all but two games in his time at Kansas. He was named Kansas' "defensive lineman of the year" at the team banquet following the 2013 season after starting eight games.

DE Chris Martin (2013)

Chris Martin originally committed to playing at Florida after high school, but ended up going the juco route following some off-the-field issues. Martin was considered an NFL prospect if he could keep his life together away from football. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to do so. Martin was arrested after an armed robbery in Lawrence in June of 2013, and never even made it to camp. He's still on felony probation for the robbery.

CB Dexter McDonald (2013)

Arguably the biggest success story of anyone on this list, McDonald was actually dismissed from the team following Weis' arrival in Lawrence. After spending a year at Butler County CC, McDonald got his grades in order and returned to Kansas, despite a strong push for his services by Kansas State. McDonald started all 24 games after returning to Lawrence, and was drafted by the Oakland Raiders earlier this month.

P Trevor Pardula (2013)

Pardula also found success at Kansas. Though he could be erratic at times, Pardula had a powerful leg that earned him first team All-Big 12 honors following his senior year.

S Cassius Sendish (2013)

Though Sendish wasn't a great player, he was a captain from day one, and played in every game as part of a strong secondary at Kansas for two years.

CB Kevin Short (2013)

Short is another of the more intriguing players on the list. Coaches were all over the place when it came to Short, who drew some rave reviews and a lot of "he's got a ways to go" type of comments. Short was in line for significant playing time heading into game one of 2013, but didn't suit up. It was said at the time that he sat out for "personal reasons," but shortly afterward we found out that he did not qualify academically to play in 2013. He once again looked ready to go in 2014, but just days before the season opener he announced he was leaving. From what I can gather, he has not returned to college football.

OL Mike Smithburg (2013)

Smithburg played two full seasons and started the majority of his games at Kansas, but was generally a weak spot on an underperforming offensive line.

WR Mark Thomas (2013)

After redshirting in 2013, Thomas was arrested for sexual assault the following spring and dismissed from the team.

DB Ronnie Davis (2014)

Davis played in a handful of games on special teams last year, and figures to compete for playing time at corner as a senior.

DE Kapil Fletcher (2014)

Fletcher was used as depth on the line in seven games as a junior, but could compete for big minutes this year as a senior.

RB De'Andre Mann (2014)

Mann did what he could behind a struggling offensive line last year, rushing for 399 yards on 85 touches before an injury kept him out of the remaining three games. Mann showed some ability as a junior and  figures to compete for the starting job this year.

DE Damani Mosby (2014)

Mosby redshirted last year and figures to be in the mix for playing time this season. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

DE Anthony Olobia (2014)

Like Mosby, Olobia redshirted last year and will be in the mix for snaps in the front seven.

S Anthony "Fish" Smithson (2014)

Though he didn't start, Fish saw a lot of action in 2014, finishing 5th on the team in tackles with 49. He should be a lock to start as a senior this year.

OL Devon Williams (2014)

Williams redshirted in 2014, and will compete for a spot on the depth chart on the offensive line this season.

That's all 33 jucos Charlie Weis brought to Kansas. If you didn't read through them all, I can't blame you, so here's a recap: a handful played well for at least a full year, a few more played here and there, and a bunch never made an impact. Here are the numbers:


I didn't include the 2014 numbers because several of them redshirted and haven't had a chance to play yet, but you can see just how poorly Weis' juco experiment went. Between the 2012 and 2013 classes, 12 of the 26 players he brought in never started a game, and eight never played a down. The nature of jucos is that they tend to carry some risk, so it's not surprising that some flamed out without contributing, but considering that coaches tap into the juco ranks specifically to find players who can come in and immediately address an area of need, seeing just 54% start a game at Kansas is a huge problem. Only 58% even hanging around for more than a year is an even bigger one, and a huge factor in KU's current roster situation.

It's been said many times before, and will surely be said again, but it bears repeating: Charlie Weis did a lot more damage to the Kansas football program than simply losing games.