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BOOM!! Football Hits Scholarship Limit

Remember the name Jacoby Davis

NCAA BASKETBALL: NOV 28 Orlando Classic - Tennessee v Kansas Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

What seemed like a pipe dream a few short years ago, maybe even a few short months ago, has become reality. The KU football team has hit the scholarship limit according to my count for 2023. With the most recent portal entry window closed as of January 18th and Jacoby Davis’s commitment to the Jayhawks on Sunday, my scholarship roster count for KU is at 85. How did the Jayhawks get here so “quickly”? Hope. Hope got KU to where they are today. Hope, embodied by Lance Leipold and his staff, has brought winning and the prospect of continued winning to Lawrence, Kansas.

Hope and with it opportunity for players that have not fit in at other colleges and universities. Hope and opportunity for high school players not necessarily ready to play right away, but who see they can develop and grow into a player that can be major contributors to a winning team if they put their trust and faith in a coaching staff that has brought hope and success to Whitewater, WI, Buffalo, NY and now Lawrence, KS.

More specifically, Coach Leipold and his staff have supplemented their current 13-man high school class with 11 transfers coming in while limiting the transfers out to 7 so far. The 7 players leaving did not include one player I thought it would, Jason Bean. He gave every indication he would leave. The coaching staff gave every indication he was leaving, but he has declared he is back for his super senior season. Will he be playing quarterback? That is a question for a future post. One player not captured in the transfer numbers is Lonnie Phelps, Jr. He is not transferring, but leaving for the NFL draft. I should have seen that coming, but I didn’t. So to date, there are 24 incoming players. There are 17 outgoing players (9 players have exhausted their eligibility, 7 are transferring, and 1 has declared for the NFL draft). Do the math that is a net gain of 7 players.

The coaching staff has benefitted from rules changes their predecessors have had to fight. The big change of course is the removal of the annual scholarship limit. Now the only limit is the total count of 85. Besides the consistent losses on the field, the big reason KU struggled to get back to a full scholarship roster, was the annual limit. Couple the annual limit being removed with current transfer portal rules and hope (or said more explicitly, actually winning football games), and this coaching staff has been able to get KU in line with the vast majority of other football programs and field a full scholarship roster. Going forward the goal will be to improve the overall talent on that roster while remaining at the roster limit.

When the season begins September 2 against Missouri State, will the count still be at 85? As I wrote in my last update about the roaster count, I expect a few more players to leave when the transfer portal entry window opens again in the spring. Where will those losses come from? I suspect we may see an offensive lineman and a defensive back (either a cornerback or safety) move on. I also think the kickers’ room will not be as full as it is now. Right now there are two scholarship and four walk-on place-kickers. The coaching staff brought on two kickers this transfer cycle, one for immediate help and one for the future, yet no one has left that we know of. I guess one or two of those kickers will not be around for summer workouts. I believe there will be four openings by the end of the spring transfer entry window. This is good. I think those scholarships can be used better in other positions.

If I had those four scholarships where would I use them? Defense, defense, defense, and defense. Ideally, defensive tackles, defensive ends, and defensive safeties with two seasons of eligibility left. To me, and I assume for most of you, the defensive line is where KU needs the most help to improve on last season’s performance. All three of those positions: tackle, end, and safety are light on players with two years of eligibility remaining.

Where do you think KU should focus its efforts for any high schoolers and transfer portal players they may still be looking at?

Below is the scholarship distribution chart and count.

Scholarship Count and Distribution 2023

Position Scholarship Count Walk-on Count Freshman Sophmore Junior Senior
Position Scholarship Count Walk-on Count Freshman Sophmore Junior Senior
QB 4 4 Ethan Vasko#, Jack Jackson#*, Kia Kunz#* Ben Easters# -- Jalon Daniels, Jordan Preston#*, Jason Bean^
RB 6 2 Johnny Thompson, Tylan Alejos#* DeAndre Thomas Jr.#* Devin Neal, Jack Codwell#*, Sevion Morrison#, Daniel Hishaw Jr.# Torry Locklin#, Dylan McDuffie#
WR 10 5 Quinton Conley#*, Cole Rhoden#*, Jared Sample, Keaton Kubecka, Surahz Buncom, Griffin Koch#* Kelan Robinson#, Tanaka Scott#, Reece Thomas #* Lawrence Arnold#, Quentin Skinner#, Douglas Emilien# Luke Grimm, Trevor Wilson, Kevin Terry#*
TE 6 3 Max Dowling#*, Jaden Hamm, Max Muehlberger#* Mack Moeller#*, Jared Casey#, Trevor Kardell#, Will Huggins# Mason Fairchild, Tevita Noa
OL 15 7 James Livingston#, Joey Baker#, Kael Farkes#*, Calvin Clements, Patrick Wallace#* Nolan Gorczyca#, De'Kedrick Sterns#, Hank Kelly#*, Jake Eisenhauer#*, Armaj Reed-Adams#, Bryce Cabeldue#, Danny Robinson#*, Deondre Doiron#, Jackson Satterwhite#, Joe Krause#*, Michael Ford Jr.#, Kobe Baynes#, Logan Brown#, Hunter Barlow* Mike Novitsky#, Dominick Puni#, Spencer Lovell^
DT 11 1 Andon Carpenter#*, Blake Herold, Marcus Calvin, Tony Terry D.J. Withers#, Tommy Dunn Jr.#, Gage Keys# Caleb Taylor# Ronald McGee#^, Jereme Robinson, Kenean Caldwell, Devin Phillips#^
DE 6 2 Parker Williams#* Davion Westmoreland#, Dean Miller#, Cole Petrus#*, D'Marion Alexander#, Austin Booker# Hayden Hatcher#, Patrick Joyner^
LB 9 5 Ty Farrington#*, Logan Brantley Tristian Fletcher, Cole Mondi#*, JB Brown# Cornell Wheeler#, Donovan Gaines#*, Krishawn Brown#, Ben Coates#*, Alex Raich# Rich Miller, Craig Young#, Dylan Downing#*, Taiwan Berryhill
CB 6 2 Brain Dilworth#, Jacoby Davis Jaden Robinson#*, Damarius McGhee# Jacobee Bryant, Ra'Mello Dotson# Kwinton Lassiter#*, Kalon Gervin#
S 9 4 Kaleb Purdy#, Mason Ellis#, Kenrick Osei-Bonsu#*, Jameel Croft, Taylor Davis Jalen Dye#, Jayson Gilliom#, Landon Nelson#*, O.J. Burroughs, Ben Hanson* Kenny Logan Jr., Marvin Grant#, Andrew Russell*
ST 3 7 Charlie Weinrich(K)*#, Grant Gasglow(K)* Grayden Addison (P)#*, Owen Piepergerdes (K)#* Emory Duggar (LS)*# Jacob Borcila (K)#, Luke Hosford (LS)*#, Reis Vernon (P), Tabor Allen (K)*, Seth Keller#(K)
Totals 85 42
* Denotes Walk-on
^ Super-Senior
# Red Shirt Year Used