Some years, the state of Kansas is hard-pressed to produce five Division-I football prospects. Total.
This was not one of those years. And when the in-state harvest is rich, the in-state schools often win.
Signing day is today, and thousands of athletes from coast to coast will ink letters of intent and fax them to their future destinations. Kansas University's 2008 football class likely will consist of around 20 prospects, several from close to home.
"So much of what (the Jayhawks) do is measured against Kansas State," said Jon Kirby, a recruiting analyst for Rivals.com, "and they had the edge over the Wildcats in terms of landing the top kids head-to-head."
In all, Kansas offered scholarships to seven of the top nine players on Rivals' Kansas Top 10 list. Four of them committed, and the other three left the state of Kansas entirely.
The big dog was Wichita East linebacker Arthur Brown. He was considered one of the country's top prospects who had his choice of almost any school in the country. He picked Miami, Fla., and actually will work under new defensive coordinator Bill Young, who left Kansas last month.
But the state's prospect list wasn't exactly top heavy. Under Brown were several legitimate targets that Kansas corralled.
¢ Kale Pick, a 6-foot-1 quarterback out of Dodge City who may develop similarities to KU quarterbacks Bill Whittemore and Todd Reesing. Pick graduated from high school early and already is in Lawrence.
"When you watch his film, you can see he has some moxie about him," Kirby said. "He has a good feel for the game and can move around. One of his strengths is his ability to throw on the run."
¢ Duane Zlatnik, a defensive end out of Rossville who doubles as a state-champion wrestler. Zlatnik took his time in the recruiting process but eventually chose Kansas over K-State and Wisconsin.
"For his size," Kirby said, "he's a great athlete."
¢ Darius Parish, a load of a defensive tackle out of Wichita North. Parish originally committed to Nebraska but reconsidered after the Huskers' internal strife surfaced.
As for the one you might see on the field first? That could be McPherson tight end Tanner Hawkinson, a lifelong Jayhawks fan who already has the frame at 6-foot-6, 230 pounds. With the loss of tight end Derek Fine to graduation, the position is open for a current player like Bradley Dedeaux or a future one like Hawkinson to slide right in.
"Making the transition is never easy for a true freshman to the Division-I level," Kirby said, "but Hawkinson has a very good chance at it."
Of course, most of KU's 20 known commitments - 16 high school standouts and four junior-college transfers - hope to see the field early. But first thing's first: Signing on the dotted line and faxing the letter of intent to the football office before KU coach Mark Mangino holds a 3:30 p.m. press conference to flaunt the class.
The Jayhawks' 12-1 season in 2007, which ended with a victory in the Orange Bowl, may have given Kansas a little clout in the recruiting circles. But that might not be apparent until next year, considering the recruiting class almost was done by the time KU won the Orange Bowl.
Still, the magical season worked its magic in other ways.
"I think it helped keep everyone committed that gave their word early on," Kirby said. "If you combine their success on the field and the solid work by the coaching staff, they were able to hold on to every recruit they wanted."
Including four big catches in the state of Kansas.