The summer of 2019 kicked off with a bang in recruiting, with Kansas securing 12 verbal commitments for the 2020 recruiting class between June 17-25. Since then, however, things have not gone so smoothly.
First, there was the hubub over the reinstatement of Pooka Williams on July 8, with just a one-game suspension of Williams by the University. This was followed a week later by Les Miles’ press conference at Big 12 Media Days, where Miles seemed ill-prepared, disorganized, and lost during his opening comments to the media back on July 15, during which he felt the need to address the Pooka situation once again.
More recently, just this past Monday (July 22), we learned that incoming Juco DE Malcolm Lee was arrested over the weekend on suspicion of DUI. KU issued a statement that it will be handled “according to our internal policies,” but we don’t really know what that means. Lee was one of the highest rated recruits for Miles in his first recruiting class, and was expected by many to compete for (and win) a starting job immediately on the defensive line this fall. His next court appearance is set for August 7.
Also on Monday - not that this has anything to do with Miles - we got an update on the situation with former coach David Beaty and his lawsuit against the university for failure to pay the $3M buyout that was in his contract. This situation likely doesn’t affect the program. team, or Miles much at all, but has still got to be a distraction for the administration and frankly doesn’t put KU in a positive light in terms of public perception.
Then on Tuesday evening, July 23, class of 2019 recruit Jayden Russell announced on Twitter that he would not be joining Kansas and was reopening his recruiting:
I have been granted a release from The University of Kansas. I am a Full Qualifier and will be exploring different options at this time.— Jayden Russell (@Jayden__Russell) July 23, 2019
Please, no interviews.
Russell was the second verbal commit after Miles officially took the job in December, and immediately became on of KU’s leading recruiters for the rest of the 2019 class. We learned back in the first week of June that Russell would not be joining Kansas over the summer as planned, and in another tweet following the one above, Russell offered some clarification, saying the the following (unedited):
Just to clarify what happened
KU mentioned to me their was a possible chance that my ACT score could get flagged because of the significant jump from my 2nd test score to my 3rd test score (10 point jump). I was informed 2 days before I was suppose to move in that it would be best if I do not report and retake the test because if I showed up during the flagging process I would have to leave KU and potentially pay back everything I received. The main goal was for me to retake the test and report by AUG 1st. The staff informed that they could no longer wait to see if I will pass my ACT since I got the score back today (which I did pass). They decided to bring in another guy and informed me that even if I passed that they would want to grey shirt me now and have me report in January. I feel like I worked too hard to wait and decided to open my recruiting back up for a chance to compete this Fall. I also want to thank KU for being very understandable through this process and I’m forever grateful for everything.
Russell wasn’t likely to see much playing time this year at KU anyway, as one thing the Jayhawks have going for them is a deep and experienced secondary. However, he could have been a key part of the 2020 team and beyond, so losing him is definitely a blow to the future of Kansas football.
It’s definitely been a rough week so far for Miles and the football team and the month of July in general. One thing I’ve actually kind of gotten used to regarding Kansas football over the past 10 years is that just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does. Let’s cross our fingers and hope that isn’t the case again this time.