Trying to build competitve secondary in Big 12 tough challenge for Kansas

photo by: Nick Krug

West Virginia wide receiver Gary Jennings (12) is drilled by Kansas safety Mike Lee (11) after a deep catch during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

Playing defensive back in the Big 12 ranks among the most difficult jobs in college sports.

Seldom was that more obvious than this past Saturday when Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph combined to throw for 1,046 yards, including 598 yards from Mayfield, a perennial Heisman Trophy contender.

Kansas has both Oklahoma schools remaining on its schedule after visiting Austin this Saturday in an attempt to defeat the Longhorns for a second consecutive year.

So far, Kansas (1-8 overall, 0-6 in the Big 12) hasn’t had much success in stopping the pass. Opponents have averaged 277.4 passing yards per game with 24 touchdowns and three interceptions.

The failure to assemble a better secondary hasn’t been for lack of trying on the part of the coaching staff. In head coach David Beaty’s three recruiting classes, KU has used 15 scholarships on players now in the secondary, plus four on defensive backs no longer in the program.

The most successful of the bunch so far have been safeties Mike Lee and Tyrone Miller, nickel back Bryce Torneden, cornerback Hasan Defense and former cornerbacks Brandon Stewart and Marnez Ogletree.

Others, listed in alphabetical order: Shola Ayinde, Bazie Bates IV, Julian Chandler, Daylon Charlot (recently converted from receiver to safety), Antonio Cole, Denzel Feaster, Kyle Mayberry, Emmanuel Moore, Ian Peterson, Shaquille Richmond, Stephan Robinson, Shakial Taylor and Robert Topps III (red-shirting in first season in program).

Corione Harris of Landry-Walker High in New Orleans was ranked the 60th best prospect in the nation when he made a verbal commitment to Kansas and shouldn’t have any problem starting from Day 1 should he honor his commitment. Auburn, LSU, Oklahoma and Texas A&M are among other schools that offered Harris.