Last week, Shane Jackson over at the Lawrence Journal World talked about Mike Lee’s expectations for his senior year, quoting his Big 12 Media Days interview about how this season is “my last ride. I want to give everything I got for my team.” While Lee has plans to make this a special senior year, he isn’t the only senior hoping to make one final mark on the program that has been his home for the last few years.
We began a look at each of the seniors on this roster last week, highlighting 8 out of the 25 in part 1 of this series. Today, we will look at 9 more of these seniors. We’ll do a quick recap of each player’s KU career to date and try to predict what you can expect this year.
#11 Mike Lee, S from New Orleans, LA
Like Bryce Torneden, Lee came to KU in 2016 and played almost immediately. He has played in 32 of 36 possible games, starting in 26 of them. He has 214 total tackles (117 solo, 4.5 TFL) with 4 interceptions (1 returned for a TD) and 1 fumble recovery. He broke out in his first year with a huge game in the win against Texas. He took a step back in his sophomore, but bounced back in a huge way last year, when he led the Big 12 with 3 forced fumbles.
As I mentioned last week, Pro Football Focus has Lee rated as the second best returning safety in the Big 12 this year, just behind fellow KU senior Torneden. He has long been considered one of the leaders of the defense, and I expect big things from him this year, especially with a competent coaching staff setting the alignments in the secondary.
Here are the highest-graded safeties that will be taking the field in the Big 12 this season. pic.twitter.com/UqD83JYt9P— PFF College (@PFF_College) May 23, 2019
#12 Jeremiah McCullough - S from Baltimore, MD
McCullough joined the team last year from Hartnell College, where he was a two-time first team all-conference player. He played in 10 games at safety last year, starting 2. He finished the season with 23 tackles (14 solo) and 1 INT.
With two highly rated players ahead of him, it’s hard to see McCullough expanding his role too much barring injury. But he still rotated in for a large number of snaps over the year, and I expect that he will continue to get opportunities to shine in big spots this year. Just don’t expect him to get many starts this year.
#13 Hasan Defense - CB from Jacksonville, FL
Defense spent his first year at Kilgore College where he had a fairly impressive season. He has played in 23 of 24 possible games at KU, only missing one his sophomore year due to illness. He has recorded 85 tackles (65 solo, 3 TFL) 5 INTs and recovered 1 fumble. His most notable game was probably against West Virginia last year, where he picked off WVU QB Will Grier twice to keep the Jayhawks in the game.
Given his large role on the team at CB, it’s not hard to imagine that Les Miles will lean on his experience and abilities. Having shown a decent amount of talent, I expect him to thrive opposite Corionne Harris, posting some big numbers for the year.
#14 Manny Miles - QB from Baton Rouge, LA
Miles transferred from North Carolina, where he only attempted four passes last year, including this beauty:
He is joining the Jayhawks as a graduate transfer walk-on, allowing him to finish his college career with his father. If he sees the field in anything other than late garbage time, I’d be really worried.
#18 Denzel Feaster - LB from Austin, TX
Feaster came to KU as a 2-star prospect in 2015. He has played sparingly in his time at KU, appearing in 27 games but only recording 16 tackles. He redshirted in 2017, and had a recovered fumble in 2016 and 2018.
He has been defensive depth when guys like Ben Heeney and Keith Loneker roamed the middle, but he has an opportunity this year to step up. It’s too early to tell who is going to snag the majority of the starts and snaps, but I expect Feaster to have a sizeable role this year.
#27 DeAnte Ford - S from Houston, TX
Ford didn’t get much playing time until his sophomore year in 2017, when he played in all 12 games on special teams, and at cornerback and nickelback. He has totaled 29 tackles in his three years, serving mainly as depth in the secondary.
Again, safety is a stacked position for this team, so I expect Ford to continue contributing on special teams and as depth should anything happen to the frontline starters.
#44 Willie McCaleb - DE from Grenada, MS
McCaleb joined the Jayhawks in 2017 from Northwest Mississippi CC, where he earned First-Team All-Conference honors. He redshirted in 2017, and played in 8 games last season. His biggest game was against Rutgers, where he forced a fumble and recorded a tackle.
With the departure of Daniel Wise and a shift to a 3-4 base defense, it’s tough to say exactly how much time is up for grabs here, but it’s safe to say that McCaleb should get a chance early to show that he deserves to pick up some of that playing time.
#49 Hudson Hall - FB from Austin, TX
Hall was a three-time First Team All-District linebacker in high school, but played on special teams his first year with the Jayhawks, with his only recorded stat being a tackle in kickoff coverage against Oklahoma. He redshirted his sophomore year, and then switched to the offense in 2017. Since the move, he has appeared in 19 games, starting 2, without recording any stats in the box score.
Hall has primarily been used on special teams, and I expect to continue to see him utilized in that role. On the offense, he may make an appearance every once in a while on a blocking assignment, but I expect that those looks will be very limited.
#67 Kevin Feder - OL from Ramsey, NJ
Feder transferred to Kansas last year after spending 3 years at Ohio State without seeing any game action. Coming out of high school, he was a 3-star recruit and the #13 ranked recruit from the state of New Jersey. Last season, he started all 12 games and was a big key to the running game, as the backs routinely ran behind him on big plays.
As one of the more experienced members of the line, I expect Feder to be an anchor for the offense again. A lot of their potential success will depend on how well he can replicate his performance last year in the running game.
Next Friday, we'll take a look at the final group of seniors that are preparing for their final season. In the meantime, tell us in the comments below which of these seniors you think will have the biggest impact this year.