The loss of Steven Sims prior to last season was huge, but the Jayhawks pulled some talent from the Juco ranks and were able to combine that with a nice season from Daylon Charlot to have a pretty solid WR corps in 2019. (Of course, having a good quarterback helped.)
This year, Kansas looks to have the makings of a solid WR corps. In fact, out of returning Big 12 players, the Jayhawks have two of the top-5 most receiving yards from last year:
Top 5 Most Receiving Yards in Big 12 in 2019 (Among Returning Players)— Cover 3 Podcast (@Cover3Podcast) July 8, 2020
1. Tylan Wallace (OKST) 903
2. Andrew Parchment (KU) 877
3. Tyquan Thornton (Baylor) 782
4. Charleston Rambo (OU) 743
5. Stephon Robinson (KU) 727 pic.twitter.com/VhcgaU2Xgt
As Brent Dearmon assumes what we all hope to be total control of the offense, look for KU’s RPO and play-action offense to stretch defenses and isolate defenders, all while forcing defenses to stay them honest with Pooka Williams in the backfield.
And I do think Pooka is a key here. I know we’re talking about the wide receivers, but Pooka is the cog around which Kansas needs to the offense. A healthy Pooka is who defenses will have to key in on first, which should give receivers lots of one-on-one matchups that the offense can look to exploit with their RPO strategies.
We’ll go ahead and include tight ends in here, since they catch passes too.
WR1 - SR Andrew Parchment / SR Ezra Naylor
WR2 - SR Stephon Robinson / SO Jamahl Horne
WR3 - SR Kwamie Lassiter II / FR Lawrence Arnold
WR4 - JR Takulve Williams / FR Tristan Golightly
TE1 - SR James Sosinski / FR Will Huggins
TE2 - SR Jack Luavasa / SO Mason Fairchild or FR Trevor Kardell
Your guess at tight end is as good as mine. Out of Carter Stanley’s 226 completions last year, just 15 went to TEs, and all 15 of those receptions return in Sosinski, Luavasa, and Fairchild. I do think both of the freshmen will get some action, at the very least, late in the season to maintain a redshirt. Keep your eye on Will Huggins (apologies for the paywall link); he looks like the kind of kid who may quickly become a fan favorite.
As for the receivers, there are a lot of returning guys that could be in for a huge year if the Jayhawks can find some success at the quarterback position. Of the five WRs Kansas had in the 2020 class, Arnold and Golightly were the only two that reported multiple P5 offers. They may do the 4-game redshirt thing as well, especially considering the depth Kansas has, but their talent could very well earn them extensive playing time. Without spring ball or fall camp, there’s just no way to tell at this point.
Cause for Concern
I don’t really have much concern with this group. There’s not a lot of height among the upperclassmen, but that doesn’t seem to be much of a concern in Dearmon’s offense with Stephon Robinson and Daylon Charlot having solid seasons last year. There’s a lot of upperclassmen, which could limit reps for the big freshmen class that the Jayhawks brought in, a couple of whom had multiple P5 offers and will likely want to see the field right away.
Case for Optimism
Returning starters? Check. Senior leadership? Check. Talented freshmen? Check. Highlight reel abilities? Check.
With the return of Andrew Parchment and Stephon Robinson Jr., #KUfball brings back 1,558 receiving yards with 15 touchdowns. That’s 37% of KU’s scoring in 2019.— Jack Johnson (@JohnyJ_15) July 12, 2020
That’s the most touchdowns from a duo of KU receivers since Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier (17) in 2009. pic.twitter.com/3TWwK6Do9F
Nothing else to see here. Moving on.
Emmett Jones returns for his second year as the coach of the WR group. Jones came to KU after serving three years on Kliff Kingsbury’s staff at Texas Tech. Prior to Tech, Jones was the head coach at South Oak Cliff High School in Texas, going 30-8 in three seasons. Prior to that he was an assistant coach at the high school level at various places in the Dallas area. As a player, Jones was a walk-on at Texas Tech in the mid-1990s.
Last year, we didn’t really know what to expect out of the wide receiver position, or, just as importantly, the quarterback position. While Kansas will once again be breaking in a new starting quarterback, the Jayhawks only lose Daylon Charlot from last year’s WR corps.
... this unit could very well surprise in 2019, and be even better in 2020 considering Charlot is the only senior WR on the roster.
And man, I think I was right. The Jayhawks shouldn’t lack for anything this season in terms of pass catchers. Now if we can just figure out who is going to get them the ball... but that’s an article for later on in the countdown.