2018 Kansas football signing day
LAWRENCE, Kan. – National signing day was the buzz around the nation on Wednesday, and things were no different inside the Anderson Family Football Complex, where Kansas football head coach David Beaty and the coaching staff, along with select players, were featured on the Jayhawk Television Network for a signing day special that began at Noon CST.
The final segment of Signing Day Live featured Beaty speaking with the media at a press conference inside Mrkonic Auditorium. A replay of the entire two-hour show can be seen on WatchESPN.com, and just the press conference can be found on the Kansas Football Facebook page.
A transcript from Beaty’s press conference is below.
DAVID BEATY: Let me welcome you again. It’s good to be back with you. It’s been a while since we’ve been able to be with you. So happy to be back here and to be healthy with the flu going around. We’ve got one of our coaches has got that and a couple of our kids. So just happy to be back here and healthy.
Excited to be back home here in Lawrence after a long but very prosperous recruiting season. Very proud of our guys and the job that they did on the road. I think that we have a terrific staff and we have some new additions that I’ll talk about real quick.
But this day’s going to be about the guys that are going to be added to our football team. So we’ll take questions about that only today. But before we get started, just a few guys that we’ve added. I’ve put a release out on a couple of these guys.
A.J. Ricker is now going to take over the reigns as our new offensive line coach here. You guys have read the presser. You know all of the things about him, where he’s coached. You know Illinois. He came to us from Oklahoma State most recently. Over at Missouri, Western Michigan. He’s been around a long, long time. He’s played at a high level. Played in the NFL. Has a number of players in the NFL that he’s tutored. So he’s a great new addition.
I’m excited about the energy he brings and just watching the connection, it’s been really good so far.
Bill Miller, great Kansan, Hutchinson Kansan boy. I worked with him before when I was here with Coach Mangino. Got to know him well then. When that season was over, I knew he was going to be a big target for me, and we worked really hard to make that happen. Want to take my hat off to Dr. Zenger, Sean Lester, our administration, Dr. Girod who really is supportive of administration as you could ask for.
To make it happen with these guys was very, very important to our success. Very excited about having Bill here. He’s a beloved Kansan. When I met him down there in Florida, he showed me pictures of the Kansas sky with the waving wheat, and I don’t know many guys that carried that picture on their phone, but that’s how much he loves this place. He’s truly excited to be back here.
Clint Bowen is going to move over ask coach the corners now. He’s still our defensive coordinator. Nothing has changed there. He’s going to coach the corners. Todd Bradford who has 20-plus years experience. Most of his college career has been coaching the safeties. We’re going to move him back to the safeties where he’s been a not lo, long time. It will be a natural, easy progression for him.
Kenny Perry will take over our special teams coordinator position. Excited about that. He’s got a lot of experience in doing that. He’s going to be a guy that’s going to bring a lot of energy to that position, and certainly something that I’m looking forward to. I know he’s really excited about that position as well.
Today, however, like I said, today is about an exciting new group of Jayhawks that are going to be joining our family. I’m going to speak about those guys, and I’m not going to take any questions other than about that. All right?
So I’d be remiss if I didn’t start out this thing by talking a little bit about a guy that did a lot for our program that we’re excited for. Dorance Armstrong who has declared for the NFL Draft. Right now everything looks good for him as he moves forward.
Love his mom and his family. They’ve been such good Jayhawks throughout their time here and we want to wish Dorance nothing but the best, and thank him for all he did here.
Dorance, if you’re watching, thank you, bro’. Appreciate you. Good luck. He’s a terrific guy, and I know he’s going to represent us well at that next level.
The number one goal of all Division 1 staffs at this time is to effectively evaluate what your needs are, and then go out there and effectively fill those needs. That’s very important. For some teams, that’s adding depth. For some teams that’s adding immediate needs that they need to address. Others, you know it’s one of those deals where you have to do a little bit of both, and that’s what we were looking for this year is a little bit of both. Of course we’ve done that in all three classes. We’ve taken a little bit of both, which is what we’ve been looking for. So I felt like we’ve actually met those needs and more, probably more than we might have thought we could have got when we started this thing out. So there are some really good things about that.
We recruited from coast to coast, truly. We’ve been all over the place. We’re extremely proud about that. We’re extremely proud of our home grown talent we’re about to add to our roster today. The kids right here from this great state and the Kansas City area. Some terrific players that have great production that I’ll talk about a little bit today.
We do have a lot of amazing players that I’m going to talk about. But perhaps the most important one in the class is sitting right here in the front row. He’s from right down the street in Tonganoxie, Kansas. I think I saw when he was standing.
How tall are you, man, would you say? 4’10”, but 10’4″ on game day, right? That’s what I’m talking about. 71 pounds, plays wide receiver, the newest member of our signing class and excited to have him here. Tayber Witt, his mom, Lorelei and Josh, they have been incredibly supportive, and we want to thank you for entrusting him to us.
Tayber is full of energy and enthusiasm. You’ll get to see him around here a lot. He brings so much joy to anyone that’s around him, and he loves KU and KU Football. As I mentioned earlier, we feel like we had to effectively fill our needs with key pieces of the puzzle, and there is no doubt that Tayber is one of them.
Team IMPACT is ultimately designed for us to change Tayber’s life by supporting him in all areas. But it’s very clear to me now that we’ve spent some time with Tayber, that he’s going to be the one that’s making the huge impact on us. So welcome to the family, Tayber. Appreciate you, man, excited. Good deal.
So number of other players that we’ve signed, and very proud of our class. I think it’s receiving a pretty high rating right now, which I really don’t care about any of that. I know some of you guys follow that. I think it may be the highest rating we’ve had in the history of our university here since they’ve been keeping rankings. If it’s not, it’s close.
I also know that in this class we were able to sign the highest rated player that we’ve signed since we’ve been here, since they’ve had those rate beings here at Kansas in Corione Harris, so really cool highlights to this class that I think are really cool to point out.
Now the thing is, the truth is, you really don’t know until they get here and start doing things. So we’re not going to put the cart before the horse. We’re excited about what we’ve seen them do, and now it’s our job to get them going and make sure that they can contribute for us.
In December, we signed quite a few players. We made a release, and I’m just going to review those guys. So we really needed to help ourselves in the secondary corner and safety, and I feel like I’m really proud of the guys that we brought in here. Very tough guys that have some great stories. We also felt like we needed to do a good job of adding offensive linemen to this class.
The money is made up front, defensive line and offensive line, and still our numbers are down in that area. So being able to add quality guys there was going to be important for us.
We felt like we needed to do a good job at the tight end spot. We had a grad transfer we signed there, and two other high school guys we’ve signed there as well.
We’ve got a number of different players that can play both ways that we can plug in some really terrific athletes that I’ll talk about here in a few minutes. Lots of local homegrown talent, which I’m proud of.
Let me start with our D-line in December. We were able to sign a kid from Ypsilanti, Michigan, that’s Codey Cole. You may have seen him walking around, he’s hard to miss. Big kid, 6’3.5″, 295 pounds, comes from Butler community college. I believe his brother plays at Oklahoma State. Very athletic family. Coach Shaffner was instrumental in helping us get this kid over here to K.U., and we’re really excited about him. Big guy, plays on the interior for us. We really needed that type of a player to help us.
Foster Dixson, big defensive end that we’ve gotten out of the Los Angeles area, West Los Angeles Community College. This guy looks the part. There is no doubt about it. You may have seen him walking around a little bit earlier. Very, very strong, quick, fast, productive player. A guy that will certainly help us as we attempt to fill the shoes of Dorance Armstrong.
He can do a lot of different things. One of the thing that’s sticks out to me that might be a bonus is how much he does a good job of stopping the run. His inside run stoppage was remarkable at the place that he played at. In addition to the way that he can rush the passer.
Azur Kamara is out of Glendale, Arizona. Went to Arizona Western College, great kid. You’re you can taking about a dude that can roll now off that edge. So a great pass-rusher. Had a number of sacks this year. Lots of production. This guy can really run. His dad’s a really good foosball player and I know that because I’m good and he almost beat me at my house. He’s a really good foosball player.
But I think that’s where the connection came in. When we were sitting there that night, getting to know his family, they’re a terrific family. He’ll be with us as we start in the summer. But a guy that was highly recruited by a number of different places, very difficult to get him, was very pleased when we were able to get him to ink with us in December.
Another guy out of Asa College by way of Cleveland, Ohio is where he’s from. One of the better players in the country that played at the defensive end spot, Najee Stevens-McKenzie, man, this guy is Mr. Personality. I don’t think he’s ever met a stranger. But, man, you’re talking about a pass-rushing fool now. Between those two guys there was a ton of production in sacks. So Najee, another great kid that we like.
All of those kids fit our team. Best thing about our team right now and has been the men on it. So we were very, very critical of the people that we brought in here. We had a very, very precise plan for how we were going to add personnel, and we followed that plan, and we know it works because we’ve been using it since we got here.
Secondary players that we added, couple of guys that are out, basically both of them from the Baltimore, Maryland area. But they went to Hartnell College which is where (Indiscernible) is at. That’s how I learned about these guys. Coach Collins is a stud out there. Does a great job.
But Davon Ferguson and Jeremiah McCullough, both those guys are impressive young men. Those kids love football. The things that you have to do to fly across the country and not have a place to live and not really have any kind of meal plan and survive where they survived and play this game, you’ve got to love it. You’ve got to love it.
That’s something they were looking for was passionate people who love the game. Watching these guys work out already has been just a joy because they are just very resilient, tough, physical guys. I just feel really blessed to have these guys here. It may have been tough to keep any of these guys had we not had that first signing day because they’re all quality people. Elmore Hempstead and Elijah Jones, both guys that are in local community colleges. Fort Scott Community College is where Elmore’s from, a great looking kid. Plays for Kale Pick. Kale played for me when I was here. One of my favorite players of all time.
He’s from Smackover, Arkansas, how about that name? And he will hit you, which is good. Elmore, we’re excited about him, talented guy. Had a lot of offers and he hung with us.
Elijah Jones, another heavily recruited kid out of Ellsworth. Great size, 6’1″ corner, lots of length. The guy can run and he can defend the pass. There is no doubt about that. This guy is a really good player and we needed depth at that position. We needed some people to help push the guys we already had there.
The last guy is a high school kid from Andrew Walker High School in New Orleans, Corione Harris. A lot of you know Corione. He was committed to us from the very beginning to the very end. I just love this kid. If you watch him workout, he’s got a smile on his face every day when he’s down there. Most of those freshmen a lot of times they come out of high school and enroll early, they look like they’ve been hit with a board, and this guy plows through workouts like it’s nothing.
He’s a very focused individual. He’s a great looking kid. There is a reason why he’s the highest rated player we’ve ever signed here at the University of Kansas since they’ve been tracking the rankings. We’re so excited about having him. What a great family.
I think Tony (Hull) did a terrific job with these kids. Lots of great relationships built there.
We also dipped into California again to go at another very quality quarterback here to our stable. A guy named Miles Kendrick, and we battled to keep his name down because he’s a talented guy. We didn’t talk about him a lot. We kept it down as best we could. I think that’s what helped us to be able to get him signed. More of a dual-threat guy, can really move in and out of the pocket, can run the ball for you. What we’re learning is quickly earning the respect of his teammates here with his work ethic.
He loves the game. He’s an Elite 11 guy, was trained by an Elite 11 quarterback out there in California. Very clean feet, very intelligent guy, works his tail off. He will be a guy that will certainly push that room. No doubt about it. I can’t wait to get him in spring and see what he can do. Because we really do think he fits what we’re looking for.
Tight end position in that first signing period, we were looking for a guy that can come in and help us now. Looking for a guy that can fill the shoes of Ben Johnson, and we were moving more toward a receiver type. I thought the kid that played at Oklahoma was a very, very difficult guy to play against, the Andrews guy. I think that there’s going to be a lot of people trying to mimic that style of play, and he played a lot more wideout than you think.
We found this kid, Justin Johnson who is one of our newer coaches, he was added as our tenth coach, he’s the one who found him. He’s from Houston originally, and this dude is a really big, good looking kid. But we think he can be a real receiving threat for us. His name is Mavin Saunders, and he’s from the Bahamas originally. His family still lives there. He transferred from Florida State. He was at the Kinkaid School in Houston. Coach Kill was a guy that helped us with him as well.
Wide receiver position, Stephon Robinson. We were looking for a guy that could really run. We were looking for speed. Guys that can stretch the field vertically. Guys when they catch it, they’re hard to tackle. They can break tackles. They don’t catch it and just get tackled, and Stephon certainly fit that bill. He’s out of Los Angeles, California, and went to El Camino JC. Always got a smile on his face. This dude has some real wheels to him, which we’re excited about. He’s got a smile, man. I like that kid. He works his tail off.
Offensive line wise in that first signing period, right down the street at Wichita Collegiate. Mike Gehrer continues to help us with guys there. Mac Copeland, one of the bigger guys in the state of Kansas, best work ethics. Met his family who is terrific right there from Wichita. Mac is a guy that’s been with us a long time. He committed a long time ago. He’s been with us when he had other opportunities.
Really excited about this kid. He’s a mature guy. We think he could help us early. We really do. He could do a lot of things. He might be able to play some tight end if we needed him to, which is good.
Jacobi Lott is a guy we tried to keep down. Tried not to say too much about him. Tried to hide him, but he’s too big to hide. He’s a big human. He’s out of Amarillo, Texas. Tascosa High School, Coach Plunk who is a long-time friend of myself and Kenny Perry’s. Coach called us about this kid, and we got on him fairly early there in December. He started to blow up there toward the end. He got a Texas offer and an Oklahoma State offer.
Spending the time with his family that we did, what unbelievable folks. I love that family. They’re great. His dad was a high school running back, won a championship at Electra under a coach named Joe Allen that is a dear friend of mine. He went on to play and had a great career at Texas Tech. His mother was a pretty good athlete in her own right. Just great folks though. He stayed with us and hung with us. So excited to have him.
He’s a multi-dimensional guy. He plays offensive line, but he played defensive line and was very talented there too, strong guy.
Nick Williams comes from Ritenour High School, Coach Gregory who is a dear friend of mine, one of the better coaches in this country at the high school level. Man, Nick had all kinds of offers. When he walks through the door, he blocks out the sun. He’s 6’8″, 290 pounds right now, and he’s working his tail off. I love that about this kid. He’s an early enrollee, and like I said, I don’t think there’s any way we would have been able to hang on to him without Coach Gregory’s help, and I think Coach Gregory knows we’re going to take care of him like he’s our own. I think this guy’s going to have a great future. He’s a good looking kid.
The final guy that took a little while to get him signed after that first signing date was Anthony “Pooka” Williams from right down there in Hahnville, Louisiana. Tony did a terrific job with him again. But we’ve all been in contact with Pooka for months and months and months. For that guy to stay with us when he became the hottest recruited guy in the state of Louisiana, which is a highly recruited area. For him to keep his word and become a Jayhawk, man, just speaks volumes to who we thought he was.
Really excited about him being here. He is a talented guy. We think he can do a lot of things for us really quickly. I think we had a lot of help down there, and I think Tony did a great job managing that. Love his family. He’ll be a guy you’ll love to talk to. He’s got a great personality, always smiling.
Got a great story for him when he was playing in the state semifinal and the quarterback got underneath. It was the last play. They were going for two, and the quarterback looked back at Pooka like he was a little bit nervous, and Pooka said, man, what you doing, boy, just snap that ball and give it to me, and he did the rest. And he winds up in the zone just a few plays there. But that’s the type of confidence this guy has.
The quarterback is one of his best friends. That’s not a knock on him. That’s just the type of leadership he provided for that team. So really, really good kid.
Now, let’s move on to the February guys. The guys that we were able to make official today. A guy that we’ve been on for a while, and Bill Miller and Meacham, Doug Meacham were the connections to this guy. We were trying to keep this guy down and not let anybody find out about him because it’s one of those deals where people are going to come after him if he they find out about him.
This kid is from down there in Deerfield Beach. Javon Glenn, dear friend of ours. Coach Miller has known him for years. Coach Meacham has known him for years. Great connection, and Javon did a great job of helping us with this kid. But Kenny Bastida and his family were here this weekend, and I was hoping nobody would find out about it. I didn’t see anything, and hopefully that happened.
He signed with us this morning. We’re really excited about this guy, talented guy. We needed depth at linebacker, we’ve got a couple three seniors there in that area. So we have to make sure we’re building for the future. He’s a guy that we think can help us now. He’s a big enough kid. 235, 240 pounds, thick, can run, and will hit you. So like that guy a lot.
Offensive line, man, really excited about these additions. Another guy we tried to keep down was a kid right out of Coffeyville, right down the street. Aaron did a terrific job helping us. Coach Flores always does. He’s out of Apopka, Florida, and his name is Reuben Lewis. A really big kid, 330 pounds, 6’4″, and more of a ready-made guy to come in and help push those dudes that are in there right now.
We need some depth at that offensive line. We need guys to be able to come in and contribute and beat out guys that we have right now. We think Reuben is a guy that certainly possesses that. A.J. Ricker knows the coach there. I think he GA’d for him, so there is a connection between those two guys, and lots of information we gained on him.
Really excited. Got to meet his parents. They’re outstanding folks, and excited about adding him. We think he’s a guy that can help us right now.
Jack Murphy, played for one of the legends here in Kansas City. Coach Tony Severino down there in Rockhurst. This kid’s a giant. He’s 6’9″, he’s a big, big dude. He’s going to be a large human, no doubt about that. Another one we tried to keep down low, and being able to get him to come and be a Jayhawk was a coup for us. We’re glad that he’s here.
Trying to work through the next one. Spencer Roe from right down the street, Free State High School, had a number of different offers. He decided to stay home, which is great. Being able to have him here, he’s a versatile guy that can play both sides of the ball. He can play on the offensive line, he can play the defensive line. He had a lot of production there at Free State. Coach Lisher does a terrific job with those guys. We have a number of guys from that school, and they all seem to work out. They just all seem to work out. Which, I mean, I usually learn from that once we see it, and those guys have been great.
We’ve got the tight end spot, I said we needed some depth there. We lost Ben (Johnson). One of our guys is into basketball right now, and he’ll be a guy that will come back and help us, but a couple guys we added that were local guys here. Dylan Freberg, North High School. Coach Simms who is a stud, love that guy. Got a card from him one day that was outstanding, loved it. How do you go 99 if you’re not backed up on the minus one, man? Just a positive guy. I love that guy.
Dylan Freberg, this guy catches like 70-something balls this year, has a ton of production. This guy gets in the end zone a lot. He runs more like a wide receiver, but he’s a big kid. Those big dudes are hard to cover in the middle of the field. You’re starting to notice more and more people use that. We think Dylan fit that’s for us.
Jack Parks, another guy, son of a Jayhawk, Mark Parks who was a great player here. Long time college coach, good friends with myself and Coach Perry. Like I said, a great Jayhawk. We’ve been talking to jack for years here now. Being able to get him to come be a part of it, to be a legacy and follow in his dad’s footsteps, we are excited about this guy.
Another long, 6’5″ guy that can run down the field and catch the ball well, this guy can go in line, which is something you have to have as well. He’s a guy that could get really big if he’s not careful. I’m not sure that he doesn’t want to get there, but we’ll see. He’s a talented player. I love this kid. Love his attitude, love his work ethic. Like I said, it doesn’t hurt that he’s getting coached by Coach Sherman over there. Those guys are outstanding.
Billy Maples from right down the street. We’ve watched production come out of this guy. I want to say he was a 41 touchdown guy. 41 touchdowns this year, 3 thousands yards passing. A great year by Coach Hood and those guys at Park Hill. This kid can do it now. He can spin it. He’s a guy that it’s hard to not notice that production. He had some real interest here late and he hung with us. So excited about Billy and adding him.
Nick Channel from Wichita, Kansas, another very productive guy right down there at Kapaun. Coach Adelhardt, awesome guy, man. Going into that school, spending time at Mt. Carmel with Kenny, Coach Perry and those guys. Nick can play both sides of the ball. You can snap it to him. He can run it. He can play safety and he’ll knock you out. He’s one of those hard-nosed, blue-collared Kansans. He just likes hitting people.
When I walked into the school this year, I thought he was a teacher. He looks old. He doesn’t look like a kid. I was sitting there going, man, is that you, Nick? You look like you’re grown. He is a good looking kid.
Next guy that Tony went deep into the boot to go get. Guy that we tried to keep low on was a kid out of Cecilia High School that’s had all kinds of production down there. A good looking, long, 6’1″ kid, going to be 200-plus kid. Ryan Malbrough, Ryan does a lot for that school. He plays on offense, he plays on defense. He will flat knock you out. I love that about this guy, very aggressive. Just another great Louisiananimal that we’ll be able to add to the roster. He is excited about being at Kansas, which is something that excites me as well.
Then the final guy down there for today is a guy from Wichita, Kansas, down there with Coach Gehrer again. A guy that could have gone a lot of different places, but he hung with us. We’ve been talking to Cody since he was a young man. Cody McNerney is his name, terrific family.
This is one of the hardest workers they’ve had come through that school. He is a good looking, built kid. He can run the football, he can throw the football, and he will flat hit you on defense. He’s a guy that can do just about all of it. I can see him being a beast on special teams. He did everything for those guys.
He’s a terrific basketball player. This guy’s a great athlete. I would not doubt that this guy will wind up in the NFL, because it’s just the type of guy he is. He’s a guy that nobody’s going to think about and then he’s going to be the guy making all the money playing in the NFL. Because that league is full of guys like that, and he does everything right. He works hard.
He’s Mac’s teammate, and every time we talked to Mac about him, he was like, Coach, this guy is a stud. You need to make sure you take a look at him, and we listened.
So excited about those guys that are home grown talent guys. We’ve got several of them, Mac, and Nick, and Cody from the Wichita area, Jack Murphy, Dylan Freberg, Jack Parks, Billy Maples, all from the Kansas City area, and Spencer Roe right here in Lawrence, and we may not be done yet, guys. But up until press time that’s where we’re at today.
So very excited about the group of guys. Really, really a good sample of what we were looking for. We were looking for a little bit of both. We needed some immediate needs, and we needed some guys to help provide depth for us as we move forward in this.
Okay. That’s really pretty much my part. So I’ll open it up to questions. So let’s take them.
Q. How much of your class are you anticipating having a real shot at getting on the field and contributing this year?
DAVID BEATY: Well you always hope that you can get all of them on the field, but the reality of it is that you won’t. I’d like to believe that where we are right now that we have recruited well enough in the previous three years that we can start doing what you’d like to do, which is to be able to get these guys an opportunity to grow.
Guys like Hakeem (Adeniji) who comes in at 256 pounds, and he gets ballooned up to 300 pounds, which is where you want him, right? But he didn’t have two and a half years to put density inside that. When you don’t have that time up front, it’s almost unfair to them, because their bodies are not ready to play in this league.
It’s the difference in playing — it’s the difference in going to a go-cart ride at Disney and a crash-up derby race and you being in full real cars. There is a big difference, right? You’ve got to understand their bodies need to build density.
There’s guys, when you have a healthy roster, you’re able to, for the most part, able to be able to develop guys and they first start contributing on special teams. They played 15, 10 plays a game, and by their red-shirt sophomore year, they’re playing full-time. Their body doesn’t have all the wear and tear on it. You’ve got a guy that’s experienced. We’ll see.
It’s like I tell those guys all the time, hey, listen. Anybody that tells you they’re going to start right away, they’re lying to you. It’s going to come down to what you do, and how much you learn.
Q. One of your frustrations this year was you didn’t have many seniors on the field. It looks like 2021, you won’t have many seniors on the field. You have maybe five or six guys who red-shirted this year, you’ll probably red-shirt a few. Is that going to be abnormal? Two years from now will you have to again get a bunch of JUCOs so you have enough seniors in 2021?
DAVID BEATY: Well, I think each year is unique. You’d like to be able to play with older, developed players, but it doesn’t always work out that way, you also have to build your roster, right? So there is a fine balance in there of making sure you’re continuing to get that roster back healthy. But you’ve got to be good enough and you’ve got to be good enough, quick enough, right? So being able to do that, that is the fine balance in there. Making sure you know what you have and is it good enough to compete in that league? If it’s not, you have to address immediate needs.
That’s no different than anybody else in the country. But as far as you look down the road last year and this year are where the two major camps in missing players were, right? Last year and this year. There’s 50 players missing. They’re missing. They’re not here for whatever reason. That’s where your disadvantage is. That’s where your frustration is.
There’s 50 dudes from two classes that should have been here, but they’re not. So you can whine about it or work your butt off to go fix it, which is what we choose to do.
Q. You talked about needs and targets that you tried to fill. In terms of physicality or in terms of character traits, was there one thing that you sought out with this class?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, well, you hit it on the head. We’re looking for developed players. Guys that are developed enough already to be able to step in and effectively be able to play at the Big 12 level. Guys can play as freshmen, freshmen and sophomores, they can play, but their bodies don’t have two and a half years of density being built on them. So that’s where you run into some problems.
One thing we were looking for were developed players. We were looking for developed players, but we were also looking for the right guys we were looking for. Guys that were qualified if we were working into the JUCO ranks. Guys that had more than two years of eligibility, so we did not perpetuate the problem, and then guys that fit Kansas football. We didn’t care how good you were. That was on the bottom of it. There’s plenty of good ones that fit what we’re looking for.
So it was a rigorous process to make sure that we were bringing the right people in here that would fit. Because when you have 50 guys missing in two groups, there is a problem with retention. You have a problem with retention when you bring the wrong guys in. That’s what happens. So that’s where we have to be very smart about who we take.
I feel if there’s anything to feel positive about is that we’ve stopped the lack of retention. We’re retaining and graduating. We’re retaining and graduating, which is something I am proud of at this point.
Q. Who in this JUCO class would you do you think would be the most likely to help fill in for Dorance?
DAVID BEATY: I think all of them. Dorance is a big spot to fill in. I think it’s going to take all of them. I really do. We’ve got a couple of them that are already here, so I’m seeing more of them. Azur Kamara is a talented defensive pass-rusher. He reminds me of Dorance. Najee Stevens reminds me of Dorance. If we can get some weight on him, he’s a dynamic guy.
Foster Dixson is a really good pass-rusher. The thing that he has that Dorance didn’t quite have yet was his run stopping ability. He can stop the run. He’s a very physically developed kid already, which is something that you like. He’s 255, 260 pounds right now, and very strong and dense, which is good. I think that it’s going to take a few. It’s going to take a few guys to get that done, because that guy was a really good player for us.
Q. I think you’ve got 11 JUCO guys total, few more than you had last year. I think maybe nine last year, something like that?
DAVID BEATY: Probably averaged just over 7 over three years. I think we’ve had 24 over three years. We’ve averaged 7 and some change. So last year I think it was at 9. This year we’re at 11.
Q. So little more this year. What goes into that strategy, and is that reactionary as you’re recruiting, or is it your strategy as you’re entering the recruiting year?
DAVID BEATY: I don’t know exactly how to address the reactionary. Everything you do is a reaction to the information you have. So what we knew we needed was we needed depth at that safety spot, so we definitely needed that. We also knew that having a long, thin, skinny kid come in here and think he’s going to take the production of Dorance was going to be difficult.
However, we felt like if we could I.D. the right type of guys, that we might be able to fill that production by being able to do what we’ve done with the guys that we’ve signed. We knew we needed help at corner. We’ve had a couple injuries out there. We weren’t extremely deep there with guys that were Big 12 level.
So, like I said I think in the opening, everybody in the country is going to try to fill specific needs. For us it was a little of both. Some places we needed depth. Some places we needed some guys that were ready to go now.
It doesn’t matter what you say. You’ve got to deal in reality. We deal in reality. We’ve got to have guys that are ready to go right now to help us compete in the Big 12. We’re here to win, ask we’ve got to get that done. So for us to be able to do that, that’s kind of where we were.
Q. How much was job security a factor in terms of getting 12 transfers? Because you live in reality, and eventually you’ll have to show with wins to keep this job that you love?
DAVID BEATY: Man, I coach as hard as I can every day and have from the very beginning. So when it comes to that, I know I’m supported from the administrative level. I know many people that would love to have the support that I have, so it’s great. I’m driven all the time by Jayhawks. I’m driven by making sure that I put the best product on the field for all the Jayhawks out there that deserve better.
We try not to think about those type of things. We try to think about fixing and making sure that we’re trying to move forward to make sure we’re adding to the team to make it better.
Q. This is the first year you’ve had two signing days. Did you see a benefit to that to you? Did it help you at all?
DAVID BEATY: Us, I think it really helped us. Honestly, I think the kids really liked it. From a coaching standpoint, I think if you polled the coaches throughout the country, which we had a little poll that we took at our head coaches meeting and there was overwhelming support for it. I’m not sure we thought it was going to be that way, but it did turn out really, really good.
For us, there are some really good players on this list. I’m not sure how many of them we would have been able to hang on to. But conversely, I look at Arkansas State’s list today, and I look at Missouri state’s list, and I look at lists and I’m going, wow, that’s a good group of guys they signed. Well, that helps you in December. It helps you.
I believe that as we move forward, I think that’s going to be the new signing day. The reason I say that is there were a lot of kids that were — a lot. I mean, there weren’t many scholarships left. There were a ton of them taken in that first round. A lot of kids didn’t go where they wanted to because they waited.
I think the elite can still do that, but, I mean, I’m watching ESPN this morning and that channel is usually pretty full with announcements, and they had big gaps between it. The reason that is a lot of them have already signed. I think it was a win-win for everybody. I really do. Kids were excited to be where they were and what they saw. For coaches it allowed us to hone in on those last few we had left and making sure everybody was getting what they needed.
I think December is going to be the new signing day. I don’t think guys are going to wait because they could miss what they really want. If I had a son, I’d probably be telling him I don’t think I’d wait. If I know what I’m looking at, then let’s roll because it may not be there if you don’t.
Q. In particular with Pooka and Corione, what kind of statement does that make for future recruits looking at Kansas and them sticking with you guys over the competition they have?
DAVID BEATY: I think it’s got to make a huge statement because Pooka is one of the most popular guys out there. Almost every one of those kids in the country follow Pooka, they know who he is. So to see him hang and stay with us, to see Corione hang and stay with us, guys that are those level of recruits to hang and stay with us, I’ve got to feel like it’s a positive force. I know it is. The guys we’re talking to from the next classes already knowing what that byproduct has been has been really, really powerful for us. I’m really excited about that.
Q. How does Miles Kendrick fit into the air raid offense, or if he ends up being the guy, would you go away from there?
DAVID BEATY: I think he’s suited to do what we want to do for sure. A lot of the principles that everybody uses is air raid. We all run the same stuff. You may call it something different, but everyone runs a smash mouth. Everybody has nakeds and boots. You call it what you want to call it, but football is changing. There are things out there that we played against and our conference played against that are really interesting. Man, they’re really interesting. I think they’re going to force some changes. Guys get really smart.
I know defensive guys get paid like offensive guys. So they force you to stay on the cutting edge. You better, because somebody’s going to figure out how to stop it. I take my hat off to Iowa State, what they did defensively is outstanding.
Q. I know it’s not the primary reason we came today. But would you talk more about the young man and his family from Tonganoxie and how you got involved?
DAVID BEATY: He’s got a great family. Mom is outstanding and daddy is outstanding. But the 4.3 speeds are what drew me to him because he can fly. Come on up, Tayber.
He’s not very old, and he’s almost as tall as me. So I know he’s going to have good length about him. What I love about this guy is his presence. He’s never intimidated. I couldn’t get my 19-year-old daughter up in front of you all, and he just popped up in front of us. He’s comfortable in front of the camera. We’ve decided he’s going to do all of my press conferences from now on. Right?
Good deal, Tayber. He’s a terrific kid. The thing that we focus on with our players and that we focus on with him, and I’ve listened to his grandmother talk today is we focus so much on what the kid can do, which is outstanding. He brings a lot to us. Like I said today, we’re going to be the big winners in this deal. He thinks we’re helping him, and he’s really helping us. He’s got some good muscles and filling out that shirt. But we’re excited to have him. That was a big, big deal for us.
Q. You talked a lot about having guys in the program a long time. How many of these JUCO guys can you possibly red-shirt? How many of these high school guys do you hope to red-shirt and keep around in the program and add that density you mentioned?
DAVID BEATY: You’d like to red-shirt the majority of them if you can. I think that has to do with how your depth plays out. As you go through spring, you’ll know more. As you go through fall camp, injuries are going to play a role in that. Guys may be forced to play when you didn’t want to play them. But injuries and all that stuff is going to play a role in that. One of the things is how we’ve done our JUCO stuff. It’s very simple.
We knew when we got here based off our research from the previous three years, how did we get where we were and how did we fix it? What were the major problems? The major problem was retention and production. Retention, production, and graduation, that was a big-time problem. So we didn’t get to look at the normal things that college coaches get to look at, which is, man, we’ve got to go do this. You just didn’t do that.
You had to find guys that were going to fit the mold, that you could retain that could graduate. We signed 24 of those guys. 13 of the 24 were qualifiers, which means they qualified to go to a Division 1 school out of high school. They were academically capable of doing the work. That was a big deal.
The first thing we said was we’re going to target qualifiers. The neck thing we’ve got to do to try to help us develop is having them here longer than two years, right? Well, you’d like to get all of those guys like that. But in reality, the percentage of those guys that are two-year guys across the country is very low. For us it was 54%. That might be one of the highest in the history of the game, because we were looking for more than just the normal.
So 13 of our 24 were qualifiers. 22 of our 24 have had an impact already. They’re red-shirting, and we think they’ll have an impact, which is 92% of the guys that we’ve signed out of junior college up into this class. That means the plan that we’ve used so far has worked to provide retention and ability to help us.
There were two other ones. Of the 24, I said 22 of the 24, the other two were medicaled. You’ve heard their names. We’ve got both of their initials back, we got them back and gave them to a high school guy, which was great. In the previous years, we just had to learn from that. So we learned there were 36 junior college guys signed, two of the 36 were qualifiers, 6%. A number of those guys never participated a down. 15 of 36 never contributed on the field, never, 15 of 36. 42% of those guys did not participate.
That’s how we came to the decision of we’ve got to make sure we retain them, they’ve got to produce and graduate. So we’ve had of our 24 signees. We’ve had ten that have graduated already. You know a lot of their names, and we have 14 on track.
All we can do is look at our plan and say has that plan been working? Has it been working? Are we getting good enough players to be able to contribute, right? In the three years previous, there were 36 signing, and 15 of them didn’t graduate.
So as we look at it, is our plan in place a good plan? Is it a plan that we can utilize to help us by making sure we focus on qualifiers? And qualifiers typically come with three-plus years of eligibility, which is great. You guys know it. There are going to be a lot of people that say they’re going to sign a lot of junior college guys and it’s going to perpetuate the problem, but that’s a lie. That’s not true. Look at who we’ve signed. Look how many years they have left. How many qualifiers there were.
It’s really easy to say they’re signing a lot of junior college guys, and that’s not true. That’s why I give these numbers to you and I tell you exactly what the plan was, so you know. That way you get the truth out there.
Q. But still you won’t have a big senior class in 2021, which is a problem you spoke about this year. So that is the negative of going with that many?
DAVID BEATY: Well, it is, but you also have to make sure that you’re in a position to be able to contribute and compete in the conference. So there is a fine line there. Right? So let me ask you this. You just go sign a bunch of high school guys and you get beat?
Q. No, but it’s not a lie to say there is a down side to recruiting that many JUCO.
DAVID BEATY: Well, yeah. I guess in what you’re saying, I understand that. But my point is let’s make sure we tell the real story, right? Okay. Guys. Listen, you all have a good one.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports