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30 Days Until Kansas Football: Previewing the QBs

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Question marks abound for KU at the most important position in college football.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

I could probably write this article in just three words and then hit publish:

I don’t know.

I just don’t know who is going to be the starting quarterback, or what they’re going to bring to the table.

Following an impressive year by Carter Stanley, Kansas fans just don’t know much about what the Jayhawks plan to do behind center for 2020. So instead of our usual format, I’ll take a look at the three primary contenders for the job, list the rest of the QBs on the roster, and then leave you to make your own prediction on who you think will lead the Jayhawks this season.

The Contenders

R-SR Thomas MacVittie

By all accounts the leader for the starting job last year over Carter Stanley up until the day before the first game, I think if you could find a betting line, MacVittie would be the odd-on favorite to start for Kansas this fall.

MacVittie came to Kansas as a much-heralded Juco transfer in 2019 as the #2-rated (and at one point, #1-rated) Juco QB available. He was a four-star recruit coming out of high school in the 2016 class and a national top-100 recruit as the #8-rated pro-style quarterback. Despite a late push by LSU and then-coach Les Miles, MacVittie held firm to his verbal commitment to Pitt, who was in on him early. But after some turnover on the coaching staff, MacVittie hit the Juco ranks for a year before ending up at Kansas.

MacVittie redshirted as a freshman at Pitt, so this is his final year of eligibility. He played in just two games last year, throwing one pass, an INT against Oklahoma State on a gadget play. His 2018 Juco numbers weren’t exactly amazing, as he played in just six games in his one season at Mesa (AZ) due to injury concerns, completing 53.5% of his passes with a 16-8 TD-INT ratio.

MacVittie is known as a passer but is quite capable of running as well, picking up 252 yards on 41 attempts (6.1 ypc) with 4 TDs at Mesa. In his six games played at Mesa, MacVittie averaged slightly over 28 pass attempts plus nearly 7 rushes per game. For some perspective, last season Carter Stanley averaged just under 31 pass attempts and just under 6 rush attempts per game.

R-JR Miles Kendrick

Kendrick also came to Kansas from the Juco ranks, albeit a slightly different path. He went from high school to Juco, and by week 5 was starting as a true freshman for San Mateo (CA). When he got to KU in 2018, he had three years of eligibility left plus a redshirt. Kansas took advantage of the new eligibility rules in 2018, with Kendrick seeing snaps in the first four games of the season before donning the redshirt designation.

He saw most of his action that season in the second half of the blowout of Rutgers. Overall for 2018 (and his KU career), Kendrick is 11-19 for 100 yards with a TD, as well as 16 rushes for 47 yards and a TD.

While at Juco, Kencrick played in 11 games, completing 57.9% of his passes for 1,889 yards with an 18-9 TD-INT ratio. He added 417 yards rushing as well on 107 attempts with 4 TDs.

FR Jalon Daniels

Believe it or not, all indications from the coaching staff, people in tune with the program, and people on social media indicate that true freshman Jalon Daniels may be a contender for the starting quarterback position this fall.

Consider: Offensive Coordinator Brent Dearmon has compared him to former Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, while Athlon has proclaimed Daniels as Les Miles’ “handpicked ... QB of the future.” I’m guessing they aren’t just making that up.

Tabbed a 3-star recruit by 247 and a 2-star by Rivals, KU was Daniels’ only P5 offer. OC Brent Dearmon discovered Daniels while reviewing tape when he first got to KU as an offensive analyst, a position with no coaching or recruiting duties. Once he became OC, Dearmon pushed for Kansas to recruit Daniels. Even though he was a verbal commit to Middle Tennessee State, Dearmon got his man and he flipped to the Jayhawks on signing day.

The Roster

Kansas has three more quarterbacks on its 2020 roster:

R-FR Jordan Preston

FR Jordan Medley

JR Miles Fallin

It should also be noted that (R-FR) Torry Locklin is listed as a running back on the roster. Locklin committed and came to KU as a QB, but was used in the backfield last year in the Wildcat package, picking up 4 yards on 3 carries in 2019 without attempting a pass. Notably, Locklin won the Texas class 3A state title in high school as a quarterback.

Coaching

The quarterbacks are coached by the offensive coordinator, Brent Dearmon. Dearmon came to Kansas as an offensive consultant to Les Miles in January of 2019, being promoted to OC midway through the season last year.

In previous stops, Dearmon has worked as an analyst under Gus Malzahn at Auburn, as well as three years as an offensive coordinator at the D-II level. He spent one season as a head coach at his alma mater, Bethel University, an NAIA school. During that one season (2018), Dearmon guided them to the best season in school history, a 10-0 record with a #3 ranking while averaging 540 yards 55 points per game.

Conclusion

There are several ways you could look at this. Some people think Daniels should play most of the year, gaining experience to be the quarterback of the future. I’ve seen others tout Kendrick and his mobility, plus you would get two years out of him. But I haven’t seen many of the opinion that this should be MacVittie’s team, which is what I happen to think.

Kansas is in an interesting situation. The Jayhawks are still rebuilding the roster from the failed Weis/Beaty juco experiment. They are not expected by anyone to finish anywhere near 9th place in the Big 12 this year, collecting nearly every single last place vote. Even S&P+ has the Jayhawks 49 spots below the next-lowest Big 12 team.

So I get that it makes sense - if you’re gonna take your lumps anyway, why not take them with a freshman (or even a junior) quarterback that you can develop?

First of all, we don’t know that Jalon Daniels is the quarterback of the future. If he is, that’s great! Not to disparage Daniels by any means, but he hasn’t even had a D1 practice yet, let alone taken a snap. Additionally, Kansas is (and should be) trying to recruit over him already. The Jayhawks have one three-star QB recruit for next year’s class (Ben Easters), and are reportedly heating up on another who happens to be a national top-1000 recruit (Landon Rogers).

Throughout this series, we’ve seen position groups all over the field where we expect seniors to start despite limited experience or playing time to this point, including the offensive line and secondary. MacVittie has the best credentials entering fall camp, and he probably has the best physical tools to play the position. That said, it may simply come down to who can get the best hold on Dearmon’s offense.

If Kendrick beats out MacVittie, that bodes well for next season, as I’ve got my eyes on a bowl game in 2021, and a returning quarterback makes that journey easier to complete. Either way, I’d like to see one of the upperclassmen behind center for Kansas this year, have the coaches continue to recruit and redshirt, and see what’s available on the roster in 2022.

Or if Jalon Daniels is the next Todd Reesing, let’s just go ahead and win the dang Orange Bowl (next year).

I know I’m flip flopping more than John Kerry in an election year, but you can make a solid argument for any of the three primary contenders. Personally, I would still like to see MacVittie, but any of them could have a successful season if Dearmon can get his offense rolling.

Read the poll question carefully:

Poll

Who do you want to be the Week Zero starter at QB for Kansas this year?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    Thomas MacVittie
    (22 votes)
  • 23%
    Miles Kendrick
    (13 votes)
  • 36%
    Jalon Daniels
    (20 votes)
55 votes total Vote Now