Too much juco recruiting could put Kansas football in deeper hole

Kansas chancellor Dr. Doug Girod and athletic director Sheahon Zenger addressed the state of Kansas football once this season and that was at a Sept. 22 press conference centering on the campaign to raise $350 million to upgrade the facilities.

Girod, based on the information he had at his disposal at that time, stood behind Zenger and football coach David Beaty. We’ll see if he changes his mind on that based on new evidence entering the equation each week, but nothing has changed with at least one statement Girod made that day.

“I think we know that we started this rebuild in a pretty big hole,” Girod said. “I think we would all agree with that comment.”

Can’t dispute that. I don’t know the new chancellor, but those who do know him say he is a knowledgeable sports fan. But did he follow the Charlie Weis era closely enough to understand that Weis’ win-now recruiting philosophy that brought so many four-year and junior-college transfers to Lawrence was at the center of the hole Weis dug?

I bring this up because most coaches in Beaty’s situation, a 3-27 record with the tougher half of the schedule remaining, would not be able to resist the temptation to slip into win-now recruiting mode, making every recruiting decision based on what gives you the best shot to win games next year in order to survive.

That’s where a strong athletic director has to come in and put a limit to the number of transfers the coach can include in his recruiting class. That’s not Zenger’s style. He likes to let his coaches coach. Plus, Zenger, whose football hires, Weis and Beaty, have gone 5-55 vs. FBS competition, also is in survival mode because his longevity is tied directly to Beaty’s because surely Girod would not allow Zenger to make another football hire.

If Zenger doesn’t step out of his comfort zone and do what’s best for the future of Kansas football, the hole grows deeper, uglier.

Some of Weis’ junior-college transfers, such as defensive back Cassius Sendish, worked out well. Too many others came and went before either playing a single down or completing their eligibility: Andrew Bolton, Jocques Crawford, Marquel Combs, Chris Martin, Marcus Jenkins-Moore, Kevin Short, Pearce Slater.

Scholarships that went to graduate transfers who were solid if unspectacular in their one season at Kansas (Corey King, Joshua Williams) or injury-weakened (Mike Ragone, Anthony McDonald) could have gone to high school prospects who would have four or five years to blossom. Weis recruited three quarterback transfers (Dayne Crist, Jake Heaps, T.J. Millweard), and a tight end (Kent Taylor) whose performances didn’t justify wasting a scholarship that could have gone to a high school prospect. Receivers Nigel King and Nick Harwell upgraded the position greatly, but only played one year.

Beaty also has not hit the jackpot on transfers from four-year schools (receivers Quincy Perdue and Joshua Stanford, who combined for three receptions and didn’t stay a whole year). It’s too early to make a call on Alabama transfer wide receiver Daylon Charlot, but halfway into the season, he has one catch and it was for no gain. Right tackle Charles Baldwin, who participated in spring football at Alabama after playing two juco seasons, has not been in uniform for several weeks.

Beaty used 21 scholarships in his first three recruiting classes on junior-college players. Running back Octavius Matthews had star potential, but had to retire because of a heart condition.

The other 20 Beaty juco recruits:

Offensive linemen: D’Andre Banks, Jayson Rhodes.

Defensive linemen: DeeIsaac Davis, Jacky Dezir, Isi Holani, J.J. Holmes, Willie McCaleb, KeyShaun Simmons.

Defensive backs: Bazie Bates IV, Antonio Cole, Hasan Defense, Marnez Ogletree, Stephan Robinson, Brandon Stewart, Shakial Taylor.

Offensive linemen: D’Andre Banks, Jayson Rhodes.

Quarterbacks: Peyton Bender, Deondre Ford.

Running back: Ke’aun Kinner.

Wide receiver: Kerr Johnson.

Kinner and Banks were the best of the bunch.