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KU Football Scholarship Count and Distribution (Update)

Will they ever get to 85?

NCAA Football: Nicholls State at Kansas Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

Note: There are no solid publically available sources for the scholarship numbers below that I am aware of. The scholarship count and distribution numbers below are based on my research scouring the internet, let me know where I made mistakes.

One of the big topics surrounding KU football for a decade now is scholarship count and when they will get back to the NCAA limit of 85. It has been a slow build back from the low point of 39 when Charlie Weis was dismissed. After Les Miles took over the quoted number of scholarships at the time was 68. So as we head into the second season of the Lance Leipold era, where does KU stand with their scholarship count?

KU Football Scholarship Distribution

Position Scholarship Count Walk-on Count Freshman Sophmore Junior Senior
Position Scholarship Count Walk-on Count Freshman Sophmore Junior Senior
QB 4 3 Ben Easters#, Ethan Vasko, Jack Jackson*, Kia Kunz* -- Jalon Daniels, Jordan Preston#* Jason Bean#
RB 5 3 DeAndre Thomas Jr.#* Devin Neal, Jack Codwell#*, Ky Thomas#, Sevion Morrison#, Daniel Hishaw Jr.# Torry Locklin# Spencer Roe#*
WR 8 3 Kelan Robinson#, Tanaka Scott#, Quinton Conley*, Cole Rhoden* Lawrence Arnold#, Quentin Skinner#, Douglas Emilien# Luke Grimm, Steven McBride, Trevor Wilson, Kevin Terry#* --
TE 6 2 Mack Moeller#*, Max Dowling* Jared Casey#, Trevor Kardell#, Will Huggins# Tevita Noa Mac Copeland#, Mason Fairchild
OL 13 5 De'Kedrick Sterns#, Hank Kelly#*, Jake Eisenhauer#*, James Livingston, Joey Baker, Nolan Gorczyca#, Kael Farkes* Armaj Reed-Adams#, Bryce Cabeldue#, Danny Robinson#*, Deondre Doiron#, Jackson Satterwhite#, Joe Krause#*, Michael Ford Jr.#, Kobe Baynes# -- Earl Bostick Jr.^, Mike Novitsky#, Dominick Puni#
DT 11 1 D.J. Withers#, Tommy Dunn Jr.#, Andon Carpenter* Caleb Taylor# Jereme Robinson, Kenean Caldwell Malcolm Lee^, Ronald McGee^, Sam Burt^, Caleb Sampson^, Eddie Wilson^, Jelani Arnold^
DE 6 2 Cole Petrus#*, D'Marion Alexander#, Parker Williams* Davion Westmoreland, Dean Miller Lonnie Phelps# Hayden Hatcher#, Zion DeBose^
LB 9 5 Cole Mondi#*, Ty Farrington* Cornell Wheeler#, Donovan Gaines#*, Krishawn Brown#, Tristian Fletcher, Ben Coates#* Craig Young#, Dylan Downing#*, Taiwan Berryhill Eriq Gilyard#, Gavin Potter, Lorenzo McCaskill^#, Rich Miller
CB 6 2 Brain Dilworth, Jaden Robinson#* Cam'Ron Dabney, Jacobee Bryant, Ra'Mello Dotson# Kwinton Lassiter#*, Kalon Gervin# Monte’ McGary^
S 9 3 Kaleb Purdy, Landon Nelson#*, Mason Ellis, Kenrick Osei-Bonsu* Edwin White-Schultz, Jalen Dye, Jayson Gilliom, O.J. Burroughs Marvin Grant# Kenny Logan Jr., Jarrett Paul#, Andrew Russell*
ST 2 5 Grayden Addison (P)#*, Owen Piepergerdes (K)#* Emory Duggar (LS)*# Jacob Borcila (K)#, Luke Hosford (LS)*#, Reis Vernon (P), Tabor Allen (K)*
Totals 79 34
* Denotes Walk-on
^ Super-Senior
# Red Shirt Year Used

From my sleuthing, I think the current scholarship count is 78, and looking like they are within striking distance of the scholarship limit of 85. But take a look at the distribution of the scholarships above and next year may not be the year KU gets back to the limit, though they could. KU could lose up to 19 scholarship seniors to graduation after the season. Though the actual losses should be fewer because several seniors will exercise their option to become super-seniors under the COVID eligibility provision granted to them by the NCAA. Up to 11 of the 19 players listed as seniors could return if they choose. For argument’s sake, let’s say about half return putting the number retuning super-seniors at 5. This means from the senior class, KU loses 14 scholarship players to graduation. Now turn an eye to players from other classes and the number that may enter the transfer portal. Since the beginning of last season, KU lost 22 players to the portal. They should not lose near that many during the recruiting cycle leading up to the beginning of the 2023 season. How many could they lose? According to the NCAA transfer portal data, the average number of players entering the transfer portal per team for 2021 was around 10 or 11. Without speculating who might enter the portal, I am putting the number at 10. So to break even going into the 2023 season, the Jayhawks need to add 24 players and will need to add 31 players to reach the 85 NCAA limit.

To this point KU has added 25 scholarship players, 14 via the transfer portal, and 11 high school or JUCO players in the 2022 recruiting cycle. In the 2023 cycle, KU will need to continue to exploit the transfer portal to bolster positions of need and smooth out the class distribution of scholarships. So moving closer to the 85 scholarship limit is possible, but it is improbable they will get there in 2023. If the 25 scholarship initial counter limit continues to not apply past the current 2-year window it has been waived, adding 27 to 28 each cycle for 2023 and 2024 is doable, especially if the team is trending in a positive direction.

So KU continues to close the scholarship gap, but it looks like it will be 2 more cycles before they have a real shot at hitting the limit.

Update (07/25/2022): The KU football roster was updated recently. Included in the changes was the removal of a trio of redshirt sophomores; WR Jordan Medley, OL Nicholas Martinez, and RB Malik Johnson. All three were mired deep in the depth chart and would not have seen much, if any, playing time this season unless injuries became an issue for the Jayhawks. Assuming none of these players snuck into the transfer portal prior to the May 1 deadline to be eligible at a new school this fall, each will need to apply for and be granted a waiver, to be eligible to play this fall. Absent the waiver, none of the three will be eligible to play for a new school until the 2023 season.

In addition to the roster update from KU, I noticed several walk-on-related items were not reflected correctly in the chart above. First, I left redshirt sophomore Jack Codwell off the chart. Second, I incorrectly counted Mack Moeller as a scholarship athlete, he is a walk-on. Third, there were several other players counted as walk-ons correctly, but not marked so in the chart. This has been corrected.

With three scholarship players leaving the team over the summer and correcting Mack Moeller’s status, the scholarship count for the 2022 season now sits at 74, 11 shy of the 85 maximum.

Update (08/30/2022):

The final update to the roster prior to the regular season. The most recent addition was this week as transfer Kobe Baynes joined the team, and head coach Lance Leipold said Baynes has been granted a waiver and will be eligible to play for the Jayhawks this season. After reviewing all the roster updates made by KU and correcting any errors of my own on the count, it looks like the roster has a total of 113 players, 79 on scholarship and 34 walk-ons. The chart above has been adjusted to reflect what I believe is the current scholarship distribution as the Jayhawks start the 2022 season.