Kansas Jayhawks Football: Recruits Ready to Make Some Noise


Oct 11, 2014; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks mascot Big Jay entertains the crowd against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the second half at Memorial Stadium. Oklahoma State won the game 27-20. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

National Signing Day 2015 is officially over, and for the Kansas Jayhawks, who changed coaches just two months ago, it was a pretty good day.

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They officially added 24 new players for the 2015 season, including two from the state of Kansas.

The Jayhawks’ coaching staff has always looked to Texas as a place to find hidden gems, but with the hiring of former Texas A&M wide receivers’ coach David Beaty to lead the way, it was never more evident than yesterday.

Beaty used his recruiting ties with high school and JUCO coaches in Texas, and hauled in 19 from the nation’s highest producer of Division I football players.

Of course in-state juggernauts like Texas and Texas A&M did well in the area too, but let’s not forget Kansas has found plenty of success in the area with athletes those schools didn’t want.

Most recently, former head coach Mark Mangino landed Todd Reesing, who holds most of the school’s passing records, and Aqib Talib, who was selected as an NFL Pro Bowl cornerback this year.

We can talk all day about where the recruits are from, and hear Beaty and the staff talk up each player like they will come in and be All-Americans.

The truth is some will work out great, and others won’t. That’s how it works.

For now though, let’s take a look at three players who could actually have a major impact on the team right away.

Ke’aun Kinner is not the first junior college running back to come highly touted to the Jayhawks.

Jocques Crawford came to Kansas in 2008 as the top-rated JC running back. He boldly proclaimed he would rush for 2,000 yards in his first season.

He left the ‘Hawks after one season and 232 yards.

Rankings obviously only matter until a player hits the field, but Kinner, listed as the sixth-best JUCO running back transfer, has a shot to at least be in the running back rotation this fall.

The Jayhawks used a plethora of running backs in 2014 to average just 3.1 yards per carry en route to 1,454 total yards — which was 109th out of 125 FBS schools.

Interim head coach Clint Bowen even moved senior Tony Pierson back to running back halfway through the season after he was switched to wide receiver.

Freshman Corey Avery showed some potential with 631 yards and five touchdowns on 151 carries, but to think he has the starting spot locked down would be foolish.

Kinner will come in with two years of college football experience, and talent that had the University of Texas and others interested in him, until he was unable to qualify academically.

At 5-foot-9, 185-pounds he has a quick burst off the line of scrimmage, but, as you can see in the video, he also isn’t afraid to take a hit or two and keeping going.

That kind of talent and toughness earned him junior college Offensive Player of the Year honors.

Wide receiver is another position the Jayhawks struggled with last year, and losing Nigel King a year early to the NFL Draft certainly didn’t help.

Kansas averaged just 1.1 receiving touchdowns per game last year, and only eight of their 14 scores through the air actually went to wide receivers.

As in the case of Kinner, it’s not like Chase Harrell is fighting for a spot with three all-conference players ahead of him.

The good news for Harrell is he will have a quarterback in Michael Cummings who has some experience.

While the junior only started eight games in 2014, that is more experience than most Jayhawk quarterbacks have had coming in to a season since Reesing left in 2009.

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Harrell also has an advantage over the other Jayhawk signees — he has enrolled for the Spring 2014 semester.

Now, he will be able to practice and won’t feel like a true freshman when fall arrives.

Kevin Flaherty of 247Sports said it will be a major advantage that Harrell is on campus early, and combined with his talent and ability, should be able to make an impact right away in Kansas’ new “Air Raid” offensive scheme.

“In the Air Raid, bigger receivers are invaluable not just as possession guys, but also as blockers on shorter throws,” Flaherty wrote on his site. “Harrell has a dimension that other receivers on the Kansas team just don’t.”

That, along with a little early exposure to what it’s like to be a Jayhawk, could have Kansas fans actually excited for the offense this fall.

Aaron Garza will be a great offensive lineman for the Kansas Jayhawks.

Saying he will be an immediate impact this fall could be a bit of a stretch though, but let’s go ahead and do it anyway.

There is no denying the talent, and sheer size, the 6-foot-3, 290-pound Garza brings to the table, and he is the third-highest ranked Jayhawk recruit behind Kinner, and Bishop Miege (KS) quarterback Ryan Willis, according to 247Sports.

It’s evident in the fact the offensive tackle, who could play guard for the Jayhawks, was heading to Texas before Mack Brown was fired.

He also had offers from Auburn, Baylor, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Southern California, and others.

But, he’s coming to Kansas.

If he was going to play at some point for any of those schools, surely he could play in Lawrence as a freshman.

However, the offensive line is something that takes time to master, and can be a tough position for a freshman to step right in and make an impact.

If he is not excelling in both pass protection, and run blocking, Beaty won’t have him in there.

Even if it is in a backup role, look for Garza to impress coaches and fans, and help bolster a running game that will hopefully excel with another newcomer in Kinner.

If he does struggle this season, it won’t be because of lack of effort, according to new Kansas OL coach, Zach Yenser.

“He is a smart, tough kid who just wants to get better,” Yenser said. “He is everything you look for in an offensive lineman.”

Take a look for yourself.

Here is a list of the complete Jayhawks’ 2015 signees.

Next: Kansas Jayhawks: Catching up With Nigel King

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