Kansas University wasted no time landing two of the top high school football recruits in the state.
Kansas City Washington defensive back/receiver Darrell Stuckey and Newton offensive lineman Adam Welty each gave early commitments to KU after attending camps last month.
"When you look at the top six or seven prospects in the state, every one of them has camped at Kansas," said Jon Kirby of rivals.com. "I think that's a sign. That hasn't happened in the past."
Rivals.com hasn't released its 2004 player rankings yet, but Kirby said Stuckey and Welty likely would be among the state's top six players.
The Jayhawks also got an early oral commitment from La Puente, Calif., offensive lineman Jose Rodriguez.
"I think this is the best early recruiting I've seen them have," said Kirby, who has followed the Jayhawks' recruiting efforts for eight years.
"The earliest I've seen them pick up three commitments was September or October, and this staff doesn't go out and offer in-state recruits early unless they think they can come in and play. If they offer an in-state kid early, you know they feel strongly about them."
KU assistant coach Clint Bowen went to Newton in 2001 to check out one of coach Brent Glann's seniors. A big freshman caught his eye instead.
"Adam happened to walk by," Glann said, "and I said, 'There's a freshman you might be interested in a few years.' Adam was about 6-5 then. Every time I talked to Clint after that he would ask me about Adam. I think that's impressive that he remembered him, considering the thousands of kids he's seen since then."
Welty appreciated Bowen's persistence.
"That definitely stuck with me -- that he saw me as a freshman and was still interested in me and remembered me that long," he said.
Welty was no standout as a freshman. He started three games as a sophomore and didn't become a full-time starter until last season.
"Up until eighth grade, I wasn't very interested or involved with athletics," said Welty, who plays the trumpet and carries a 3.91 grade-point average. "I was more of a fine arts and academics guy. My eighth-grade year, I jumped right in and really enjoyed it."
Welty (6-foot-6, 270 pounds) didn't earn all-league honors last year, though he helped the Railroaders make the Class 5A state playoffs for the second year in a row. He impressed coaches, however, at the one-day camps of Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri.
K-State and Missouri each sent letters after their camps. After KU's camp in Wichita, Bowen called with a scholarship offer. Welty came to Lawrence for an unofficial visit soon after.
"They showed a lot of class through the whole process," Glann said. "Having a guy offered this early is a new thing for me. I went up there with Adam and his dad and was really impressed with how they operated. I think he'll be in good hands.
"They were up-front and honest with him. They told him he'd most likely red-shirt his first year. They talked candidly about where they're at right now."
It didn't take long for the lineman to pick KU after his talk with coach Mark Mangino.
"He's a very congenial guy," Welty said. "He was very easy to talk to. That's what I liked about the entire staff. They're very personable."
Last fall, Mangino's staff led the Jayhawks to their first bowl trip since 1995 in just their second season. Kansas high school players and coaches have taken notice.
"I think they're held in very high esteem by every coach I've talked to," Glann said.
Mail from other schools still is coming in at Welty's house, not that he's interested.
"I'm pretty firm in my decision," he said.
The Jayhawks found another solid prospect in Stuckey, who led Washington in tackles last year. The 6-1, 180-pound all-state selection also rushed for 777 yards and had 665 yards receiving.
Stuckey -- who also received interest from Northwestern, Tulsa, Wyoming, Kansas State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Colorado -- was a standout at two of KU's summer camps.
"Kansas got a jump on them because they got a chance to see them in camp," Kirby said.
The Jayhawks also are in the running for Ottawa lineman Caleb Blakesley, who has drawn interest from some of the nation's top programs.
"I think they've got a shot at Blakesley," Kirby said. "He's the best player in the state."