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LJWorld.com weblogs Tale of the Tait

Sights and sounds from KU's stellar day on the recruiting trail

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Defensive tackle, Marquel Combs, the No. 1 junior college prospect in the nation according to ESPN, has signed his letter and is expected to fax it off after a signing day ceremony at Pierce C.C. later today.

Defensive tackle, Marquel Combs, the No. 1 junior college prospect in the nation according to ESPN, has signed his letter and is expected to fax it off after a signing day ceremony at Pierce C.C. later today. by Matt Tait

7:16 p.m. Update:

Four-star offensive lineman Josiah St. John, the No. 6 junior college player in the country according to ESPN, announced via Twitter just a few moments ago that he had picked Oklahoma over Kansas.

Here's the Tweet:

"I made my decision I'm deciding to take my talents to Oklahoma Univeristy #BoomerSooner"

The Jayhawks, no doubt, were hoping that St. John, 6-6, 305, of Trinity Valley C.C., would be the cherry on top of their already sweet Wednesday haul on the recruiting trail, but late interest from Oklahoma won out.

5:05 p.m. Update:

Here's a nice video/interview from today's Marquel Combs signing.

3:39 p.m. Update:

Dexter McDonald's story is pretty unique and probably is one many of you have heard by now.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound cornerback from Rockhurst High played at Kansas during the 2010 and 2011 seasons but left the program because of poor grades shortly after Charlie Weis was hired.

He was not gone long, as he spent the fall playing corner at Butler County C.C. and picking his grades back up. Now, with his grades in good shape and his body more prepared than ever for Div. I football, McDonald is ready for his return and said signing day 2012 was far different than what he experienced at signing day 2010.

“I would definitely say it was a different feeling," McDonald said shortly after officially rejoining the Jayhawks. "Today was just a weight lifted off of my back. Just because, once you leave from being at D-I and go to juco, it’s a very humbling experience and you never know if you’re gonna make it back there.”

Because of that, McDonald said he experienced a range of feelings during the moments surrounding his morning signing.

“It was emotional and happy," he said. "I realized I’m blessed because it could’ve gone a lot of different ways. Me still having KU and being able to play for some of the best coaches in the nation, I just feel so fortunate that it worked out the way it did. “I’m happy, my family’s happy and I’m ready to start school and start football.”

McDonald committed to KU back in October, so today was a day he was looking forward to for a while.

“I talk to the coaches as much as I can," he said. "They probably get tired of me calling.”

He said the KU program today is far different than the one he left and he's looking forward to getting back into it and playing for Weis and defensive coordinator Dave Campo.

“I want to give everything I have of myself to the Kansas football program," McDonald said. "I’m ready to come in and play right away and contribute right away, however I can, to get Kansas where we should be, which is on top.”

St. John Update

One other note, it looks like the word on Josiah St. John is that he will make his decision at 7 p.m. and will choose between KU and Oklahoma.

The Sooners don't have many offensive linemen committed in their current class, so it's possible that the opening wooed St. John enough to make him pick OU. However, if the Jayhawks win this battle, I think this class will make a serious jump in the rankings and would be considered by many as even more of a power class than it already is.

Stay tuned...

1:47 p.m. Update:

Just got calls back from three guys so bear with me as I try to sift through them for the next couple of updates.

Quickly, though, here's what KU's newest punter/kickoff specialist, Trevor Pardula, had to say about his big day:

"It felt great just to finally have it be official. I feel like the coaches are putting together a great group of guys. And just like so many of the other guys who have signed today I just can't wait to get to work."

Stay tuned for updates from Dexter McDonald and Mike Smithburg. Still hoping to get Chris Martin, too.

Oh, and just to show you a little more of how the process works (what we talked about in the original post this morning) only five of the 10 guys who have signed and faxed their letters in have been officially verified by KU as of this post.

That's not reason to panic -- not at all. It just shows you what all goes into this thing and how many eyes and hands have to get the letters before everything is sealed.

Like I said, no reason to panic. All 10 should be good to go in the next couple of hours.

Check back for more...

1:04 p.m. Update:

Looks like the Chris Martin letter is on its way, too. Jon Kirby at JayhawkSlant is reporting that the four-star defensive end has signed and faxed his letter to KU, capping off (we think) what has been a huge day for the Jayhawks.

All of these commitments certainly seemed like they would stick, but I've heard way too many stories from way too many coaches and former coaches about signing day horror stories to think it was 100 percent sure. Now that they've signed, KU fans can officially celebrate.

In all, KU picked up 10 players today, with two of them (Marquel Combs and Chris Martin) being four-star prospects and the others averaging out to be three-star guys.

I've still got plenty of calls out and am trying to track down the rest of the group so I'll be updating some more this afternoon. So be sure to check back often and remember to keep one eye on that Josiah St. John decision.

Complete List of Today's Signees:
• Cassius Sendish, CB
• Mike Smithburg, OL
• Ty McKinney, DT
• Dexter McDonald, DB
• Trevor Pardula, P
• Marquel Combs, DT
• Ngalu Fusimalohi, OL
• Zach Fondal, OL
• Tedarian Johnson, DL
• Chris Martin, DE

For a more complete look at all of these guys, as well as the rest of the class, which is expected to sign Feb. 6, visit our recruiting page here:

http://www2.kusports.com/news/football/recruiting/2013/

12:42 p.m. Update:

JayhawkSlant is reporting that OL Zach Fondal and DL Tedarian Johnson also have signed and sent their letters to KU. One other report that came a while ago said that OL Ngalu Fusimalohi also had signed but had not yet sent the letter. I'm sure the delay is not a cause for concern.

Still trying to get in touch with all of these guys, but wanted to make sure you knew that they were still signing.

Here's the updated list:

• Cassius Sendish, CB
• Mike Smithburg, OL
• Ty McKinney, DT
• Dexter McDonald, DB
• Trevor Pardula, P
• Marquel Combs, DT
• Ngalu Fusimalohi, OL
• Zach Fondal, OL
• Tedarian Johnson, DL

Of the guys expected to sign today, that just leaves defensive end Chris Martin left to make it official. One KU source told me that KU could get as many as 12 today. It's looking more like it will be 10, but that's just something to keep an eye on.

It's also still worth keeping an eye on the Josiah St. John decision, which may come today.

Stay tuned...

12:21 p.m. Update:

Combs just Tweeted the photo of his signing — already rocking the jersey...

Here's the photo of Marquel Combs, big No. 92, officially signing his letter of intent with the KU football program.

Here's the photo of Marquel Combs, big No. 92, officially signing his letter of intent with the KU football program. by Matt Tait

12:02 p.m. Update:

Just spoke with Marquel Combs, who confirmed that he has signed and faxed his letter of intent to the KU football offices.

Today's been a big day for Combs, who not only made his commitment official but also got sized for his bowl ring. Asked where the day ranked in terms of the best moments of his life, Combs had this to say:

"Other than the day I was born, this was the biggest day of my life."

Combs said the feelings he experienced after slapping his signature on the piece of paper and sending out his letter were both emotional and excitement.

"I got to sign with a few of my teammates that I've been doing this with for a long time,' he said. "And I was just like, 'I made it.' It's a dream come true going to play Div. I football and I get the opportunity to do it."

Combs said he would Tweet out a photo from his signing a little later today and that he would spend the rest of his day hanging out with his teammates and packing up his things for his trip home before he comes out to Kansas in late January.

He said he had not talked to Josiah St. John today but that he had been in touch with him in the past and was hopeful KU would get him, too.

Here's the updated list of official commitments:

• Cassius Sendish, CB
• Mike Smithburg, OL
• Ty McKinney, DT
• Dexter McDonald, DB
• Trevor Pardula, P
• Marquel Combs, DT

Stay tuned...

11:46 a.m. Update:

A couple of guys slipped their signings in under the radar in the last hour or so, so here's a look at the update list of players who have signed and faxed their letters of intent to KU:

• Cassius Sendish, CB
• Mike Smithburg, OL
• Ty McKinney, DT
• Dexter McDonald, DB
• Trevor Pardula, P

Punter/Kickoff specialist Trevor Pardula has become one of the latest to sign his national letter of intent to join the Jayhawks.

Punter/Kickoff specialist Trevor Pardula has become one of the latest to sign his national letter of intent to join the Jayhawks. by Matt Tait

Combs is expected to send his letter at any time now and we're also tracking the signings of four other commitments along with the decision from Trinity Valley C.C. offensive lineman Josiah St. John, who said on Twitter this morning that he would announce today.

Stay tuned...

11:23 a.m. Update:

Here's a quick photo of OL Mike Smithburg flying the KU colors at today's signing.

Iowa Western offensive lineman Mike Smithburg made his commitment to KU official this morning.

Iowa Western offensive lineman Mike Smithburg made his commitment to KU official this morning. by Matt Tait

11:12 a.m. Update:

JayhawkSlant.com is reporting that punter/kickoff specialist Trevor Pardula has signed and sent his letter of intent, as well. Still trying to get confirmation, but I'd say that's pretty good info.

One other piece of news that just popped up comes from juco offensive lineman Josiah St. John, who Tweeted that he will be committing today. He did not say where yet.

Stay tuned...

10:31 a.m. Update:

Just trying something a little different this time around... Trying to get the reaction of all of these guys from the moment the pen stopped writing their signature. Just heard back from cornerback Cassius Sendish and here were his thoughts:

"It was a relief, just to know that all of my hard work to this point has paid off and it is truly a blessing. I am excited to be a part of the Lawrence community and to now, officially, be a Kansas Jayhawk."

Arizona Western cornerback Cassius Sendish became one of the newest Jayhawks after officially signing his letter of intent today.

Arizona Western cornerback Cassius Sendish became one of the newest Jayhawks after officially signing his letter of intent today. by Matt Tait

Sendish is a big-time talent who has a shot to play immediately. He's a physical corner who can play in space and in press coverage and uses his frame — 6-2, 185 — to make plays. I think you guys are gonna like this dude a lot.

More to come. Stay tuned...

Original Post:

It’s national signinng day Part I for the Kansas University football team, which is expected to receive up to 12 national letters of intent from midyear junior college transfers throughout the day today.

We’ll do our best to track the signings as they come in just as we do every February with national signing day.

With so many of these guys sitting on the West Coast, the process may be a little delayed, but I can confirm that cornerback Cassius Sendish, offensive lineman Mike Smithburg and defensive tackle Ty McKinney have signed their letters of intent and sent them on to KU.

Because of NCAA rules, KU will not be able to release any information until it has all been verified. Here’s a quick look at how the process works:

First, the letter is faxed from the player to the football offices. From there, football officials send the letter to the financial aid department in student services to be recorded. From there, the letter is sent to compliance, where it must be verified. Verification includes everything from a proper time stamp to a proper parent signature and many things in between.

After that, assuming the verification process goes off without a hitch, football receives the green light to release the news.

Fortunately for those of us in the media, we don’t have to wait for all of that mess. We can simply confirm that the letter has been signed and sent by talking to the players themselves.

So while we wait for more to join Sendish, McKinney and Smithburg, here’s a quick look at the bios of those players expected to officially become Jayhawks today:

Stay tuned throughout the day for updates.

• Marquel Combs: 6-5, 305-pound defensive tackle from Pierce Community College in Woodland Hills, Calif. This four-star impact player had 50 offers and chose Kansas over Kansas State late Tuesday night.

• Zach Fondal: 6-5, 295-pound offensive tackle from Navarro Junior College in California. Canceled trips to Arkansas and Texas Tech and committed to KU.

• Ngalu Fusimalohi: 6-3, 300-pound offensive guard from City College of San Francisco. Known as a mauler, Fusimalohi’s offer list closely resembled Faifili’s.

• Tedarian Johnson: 6-3, 285-pound defensive tackle and juco teammate of Bolton. Chose Kansas over offers from Iowa State, Memphis, Mississippi State and Texas Tech.

• Chris Martin: 6-5, 260-pound defensive end. Originally committed to Notre Dame out of high school, played a season at Florida in 2011 and joins KU from a one-year stint at City College of San Francisco. Chose KU over offers from Houston, Nebraska and Washington State.

• Dexter McDonald: 6-2, 203-pound cornerback and former KU player who recommitted to the Jayhawks this fall after spending the year at Butler County C.C.

• Ty McKinney: 6-4, 310-pound defensive tackle from Trinity Valley C.C. who committed to KU last February, was expected to arrive in time for the 2012 season but ran into academic snags and was forced to stay away.

• Trevor Pardula: 6-5, 210-pound punter and kickoff specialist who picked the Jayhawks over hometown San Jose State.

• Cassius Sendish: 6-2, 185-pound cornerback from Arizona Western C.C. A natural leader and hard hitter who chose KU over Big 12 schools Iowa State and K-State, among others.

• Mike Smithburg: 6-3, 300-pound offensive lineman from Iowa Western C.C. who chose KU over Illinois. Versatile lineman who can play both guard and center teamed with fellow-KU commitment Isaiah Johnson (a DB who will sign in February) to win a juco national championship this season.

Here's the photo of Marquel Combs, big No. 92, officially signing his letter of intent with the KU football program.

Here's the photo of Marquel Combs, big No. 92, officially signing his letter of intent with the KU football program. by Matt Tait

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