Archive for Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Premium placed on KU football recruiting close to home

July 13, 2011

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On Tuesday, Rivals.com released its state-by-state rankings of high school football prospects in the Class of 2012.

A quick look at the top players in Kansas reveals that the KU coaching staff remains committed to recruiting its own backyard.

Though just one member — Blue Valley West offensive lineman Brian Beckmann — of the Sunflower State’s current top 10 has committed to KU, the Jayhawks showed serious interest in eight of the 10 and extended offers to two of them, Beckmann and Wichita defensive end Trace Clark.

While Clark and three others on the list remain undecided, Kansas State received commitments from two of Kansas’ top 10, and Illinois, TCU and Tulsa snagged one apiece.

Because it’s still somewhat early, and because this year’s crop of homegrown players is widely regarded as less talented than those from previous years, the lack of offers from KU should not come as a great surprise. For one, the staff spent most of May and June evaluating players in an effort to identify which ones it would like to offer. In addition, recruiting coordinator Reggie Mitchell said KU coach Turner Gill almost always follows a specific plan.

“Coach Gill’s philosophy is he wants to get ’em on campus before we do anything with ’em,” Mitchell said. “I would think you’ll (start to) see more guys committing because we’ll have the chance to get them on campus.”

All three of KU’s 2012 commitments thus far — Beckmann, Derek Keaton, of Camden, Ark., and Daniel Gray, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — visited Lawrence before receiving an offer.

The race for Russell

While the KU football coaches have done their part to keep an eye on the top talent in Kansas, they continue to pound the pavement in other states as well.

One of the most popular spots for KU recruits is Texas, and that’s where the Jayhawks’ latest quarterback prospect resides. KU is one of three schools to officially have offered a scholarship to Garland (Texas) High’s Seth Russell, a three-star, dual-threat QB who is ranked by Rivals as the 26th-best quarterback in his class.

Russell, who also has offers from Wake Forest and North Texas, attended one of KU’s summer camps in early June and has been on a fast-and-furious tour of other camps since then. KU offered Russell a scholarship on June 7 but it doesn’t appear the 6-foot-4, 195-pound QB is in a hurry to make a decision. After attending the KU camp, Russell went to Oklahoma and North Texas. He is scheduled to attend Arkansas’ camp on Saturday and follow that up with a trip to Texas A&M; on Sunday.

Though the Jayhawks were the first Big 12 program to offer Russell, others appear to be charging.

“Coach Brent Venables at OU emailed me and said they are interested but wanted to see my first couple games,” Russell told Rivals.com. “I will wait and see how I do at the other camps.”

While he waits, Russell told Rivals that he continues to keep KU in his thoughts.

“I’m in touch with coach (David) Beaty all of the time,” Russell said. “I call him twice a week. I usually email coach Chuck Long and stay in contact with him. They have great coaches and I was excited to get an offer from them.”

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