I just want to remind everybody that in 2018, David Beaty signed one of the highest-rated recruiting classes at Kansas since recruiting rankings became a thing, including the two highest ranked players it has EVER signed.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Here’s what I wrote last year:
Per 247Sports, KU’s class ranked #60, and ahead of K-State and Texas Tech in the Big 12. Meanwhile, Rivals had an even more rosy opinion of the Kansas class, ranking it #48, and ahead of Iowa State, K-State, and Texas Tech in the conference.
Kansas signed its first ever consensus top-300 recruit (Corione Harris) and the Louisiana Player of the Year, Anthony “Pooka” Williams (pictured above). The cupboard is not bare for Les Miles, although there admittedly aren’t the numbers that he would like to have.
Yes, Kansas still finds itself in a scholarship crunch, begun by Charlie Weis and exacerbated by David Beaty.
Consider, when Miles was hired, Kansas had two recruits verbally committed. In November. A month before the early signing period. Both of those recruits quickly decommitted, and Miles built a recruiting class probably from scratch. Regardless, it still looks like he may have found a few good pieces. Miles signed 10 in the early signing period, and ended up with a class of 19 after many expected just 14 or 15 players. Out of those 19 players, just 5 are Juco recruits.
Let’s take a look at a few of the headliners in the class, and who you should be excited about to see this fall.
LB/DE Steven Parker is the only 4-star recruit in this class, picking Kansas after decommitting from Texas Tech. With KU losing all four defensive line starters from last year (and likely transitioning to a 3-4 defense this year under a new coordinator), Parker looks to have the talent to come off the edge from a DE/OLB position. Obviously, Kansas hopes Parker is the next Dorance Armstrong.
ATH/RB Amauri Pesek-Hickson comes to KU after Jim Harbaugh ran out of scholarships at Michigan. No seriously, that’s pretty much what happened. And hey, if he’s good enough for the Maize and Blue, he’s good enough for me. Amauri joins a crowded KU backfield that is currently missing Pooka Williams, but still features Khalil Herbert and former 4-star RB Dom Williams, as well as three-star ATH/RB recruit Valerian Agbaw.
Juco QB Thomas MacVittie was one of Miles’ first verbal commits, and was at one time the top-ranked Juco QB available. Most of the final rankings still had him in the top-5 of Juco QB recruits for 2019. A former 4-star recruit out of high school, MacVittie originally committed to Pitt over LSU.
Juco DE Malcolm Lee had a nice offer list that included Big 10 and ACC schools. Considering what KU lost on the defensive line from last year, he should be a shoo-in to start from day one. Bonus, he has three years of eligibility remaining.
There are some sleepers in this class to keep an eye on as well. ATH/CB Kenny Logan had an impressive offer list full of SEC/ACC/B10 schools, but had a top 3 of KU, USF, and UConn. (Read into that what you will.) Juco DT Caleb Sampson originally committed to Missouri over K-State coming out of high school. LB Gavin Potter’s signing day ceremony will go down in KU lore. And DB Jayden Russell, a KC area recruit, admitted to having zero interest in Kansas until Les Miles was hired. Russell chose the Jayhawks over offers from K-State, Iowa State, Duke, and Boston College, and has been on the hype train on Twitter ever since.
I think the defense has a good opportunity to take a step forward this year despite the loss of four starting linemen and both starting linebackers. Positions of need seem to have been filled in recruiting Jucos (where have I heard that before? Oh yeah...). However, almost all of the secondary returns, Corione Harris will be in his second year, and Mike Lee will lead the defense as a senior. Still, there’s playing time to be had on defense, even for the freshman recruits if they show up in practice.
As for offense, Pooka Williams’ status is still uncertain, but the Jayhawks have other talent in the backfield and experience on the line. Offense will come down to whether or not they have a good enough quarterback to facilitate whatever Miles and new offensive coordinator Les Koenning come up with this fall. We know Carter Stanley (#StarterStanley) is capable even if he’s not exactly awe-inspiring, but you don’t bring in a Juco recruit like MacVittie to sit him on the bench.
KU does have the task of trying to replace Steven Sims. Miles brought in a couple of tall, rangy Jucos in Andrew Parchment and Ezra Naylor, so expect to see those guys rotated in. That said, I’d be surprised to see any of the other offensive recruits on the field this fall other than Amauri Pesek-Hickson and Thomas MacVittie.