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Rise & Sign: National Signing Day rockin' and rollin' as letters arriving quickly in Lawrence


New KU linebacker Marcus Jenkins-Moore (seated) was joined by Pierce C.C. teammate and future KU teammate Marquel Combs at today's signing in California.

New KU linebacker Marcus Jenkins-Moore (seated) was joined by Pierce C.C. teammate and future KU teammate Marquel Combs at today's signing in California. by Matt Tait

3:34 p.m. Update:

Hey folks, just got back from KU coach Charlie Weis' signing day news conference and have posted Weis' full audio.

A lot of insightful stuff in there, so check it out if you haven't.


Here are my first reactions from what Weis said. I posted most of these to Twitter so please bear with me. Trying to get audio posted and stories written so you can have more analysis. So hopefully this will work for now.

Here goes:

• Weis definitely believes he has a good class coming in and it sounds like a lot of these guys are gonna play right away...

• After listening to Weis talk about the signees, I feel much better about being bold in predicting so many starters. Especially on D

• It should be noted that RB Marquis Jackson is done playing (health reasons) and newcomer Colin Spencer will move to RB

• Really got the sense that Weis (new to juco recruiting) is a big fan of bringing juco guys in. Likes maturity, age, toughness, etc.

• Weis said Marquel Combs & Zach Fondal are not here yet but he didn't sound worried. Could be June, could be sooner. Probably June.

• Weis said today that he laid out a three-year recruiting plan for every position with his staff recently. Guy's a builder.

• Weis also said one benefit of easy day & getting letters so early (most in by 10 am) was that staff could watch film on 2014 class.

Finally, one more signing day photo, this one courtesy of Chad Rader of 810 WHB.

Basehor-Linwood High tight end Ben Johnson at today's signing day ceremony.

Basehor-Linwood High tight end Ben Johnson at today's signing day ceremony. by Matt Tait

11:31 a.m. Update:

It looks like Colton Goeas has signed and faxed his letter from Hawaii. That rounds out the list of expected signees, as all 14 guys who were supposed to sign today did in fact sign.

That's always good news for any program but certainly good news for KU's coaches, who like this class and feel good about the potential of the players they're bringing in.

From this point on, any news regarding KU pick-ups would certainly qualify as a surprise.

We'll have plenty more reaction and analysis throughout the day, including audio and reaction from KU coach Charlie Weis' 1 p.m. news conference.

For now, here's a quick look at Goeas and then I'm off to grab some lunch and get ready for the presser. Thanks for checking out the blog throughout the morning and be sure to check back this afternoon for much, much more.


Bio: 6-2, 245-pound linebacker from St. Louis High in Honolulu,. High school teammate of former KU target Reeve Koehler (offensive lineman who chose Arkansas) who packs a punch and plays a physical style. Chose Kansas over offers from Hawaii, Tennessee, UCLA and Washington State.

Most resembles: Joe Mortensen. Goeas is a physical player who lacks great foot speed but makes up for it with effort and ferocious energy. He might not come with the meanstreak and crazy look that Jo-Mo possessed, but it's not because of a lack of trying.

Potential impact: Think about guys like Ben Heeney and Jake Love. Both found their way onto the field and into key roles because of the way they sacrificed their bodies and played at one speed and without regard for their bodies. If Goeas can work himself into that kind of player and improve his speed, he'll have a chance to surprise in a year or two.

Prediction: Red-shirt.

10:46 a.m. Update:

Just got a text from linebacker Marcus Jenkins-Moore, who said he was about to fax his letter to KU.

MJM sent a follow-up text that simply read, "All smiles, man. All smiles." The guy has been looking forward to this day and this point in his life for a long time.

As soon as Jenkins-Moore becomes official, that will leave just Honolulu's Colton Goeas as the only committed member of the Class of 2013 still left to sign. With the time difference, Goeas should be coming up a little later, but I'm sure it'll be well before 1:00 p.m. because that's when KU coach Charlie Weis has scheduled his signing day press conference and I wouldn't think he would've set it for then if he thought he might not be able to talk about one of his signees.

Sit tight and we'll let you know as soon as Goeas' letter arrives.

Until then, here's more on Jenkins-Moore, my pick for the guy most likely to become a fast fan favorite in this group.


Bio: 6-3, 210-pound linebacker from Pierce C.C. in Woodland Hills, Calif., who describes his game as “relentless” and chose KU over offers from a dozen other BCS-conference schools including K-State, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.

Most resembles: No one. There have been a lot of good linebackers come through KU during the past 5-10 years, but none of them have the skill set that MJM brings to the table. He's a tenacious and physical presence who can play in space and run as well as any running back KU's had lately.

Potential impact: Huge. Has the look of an immediate starter and should significantly upgrade KU's speed and physicality at linebacker.

Prediction: Starter.

10:04 a.m. Update:

Linebacker Samson Faifili's letter of intent has been received by KU.

Faifili was definitely one of the more excited guys to sign that I talked to. Here's what he had to say a couple of days ago when asked about the anticipation of his big day.

"I am too excited. This is a big moment of my life and my career. I've been waiting for this exact moment for six years. The biggest and most important thing for me is that I can tell my mom and dad that they don't have to pay for school anymore. I cannot wait to have my name on the back of my jersey. And I can't wait to get things started at KU!"

Here's more on Faifili:

New KU linebacker Samson Faifili.

New KU linebacker Samson Faifili. by Matt Tait


Bio: 5-11, 240-pound linebacker from American River C.C. in Sacramento, Calif., committed to Kansas in mid-November, choosing KU over Hawaii, Iowa State, Nevada and Oregon State.

Most resembles: Steven Johnson. Faifili's one of those big boppers who plays with unparalleled passion and energy. Johnson, though not necessarily always known as a big hitter, could lay the wood and led the Jayhawks in tackles as a junior and senior merely off of effort alone.

Potential impact: Huge. Faifili is the type of linebacker who plays downhill and likes to hit. There's always room for a player like that. He should contribute immediately and could be a huge part of KU's defense as soon as 2013.

Prediction: Starter.

Faifili highlights:


9:53 a.m. Update:

Should be about 10 minutes out from Marcus Jenkins-Moore making it official, but I thought I'd pass along word that I just received about Spencer.

He will not be signing a letter of intent today but not because he has changed his mind or anything like that. It's merely a situation where, since he graduated early and enrolled at a four-year school, he's not allowed to sign a national letter of intent because he's no longer considered a prospect. He did, however, sign a financial aid agreement in December and, of course, is a member of the team and is already on campus.

Just more of a clarification than anything else. I didn't want people (like myself) sitting around waiting for Spencer to sign all day when he won't. Early graduates actually never end up singing letters of intent. It's just one of those weird and quirk rules but it does nothing to his chances of being on the team or playing.

Just for the heck of it (and because I already did it), here's a quick look at Spencer:


Bio: 5-10, 179-pound athlete from Woodrow Wilson High in Dallas. Played cornerback, wide receiver and quarterback in high school. May graduate early and enroll at KU in time for spring football.

Most resembles: Jake Sharp. Has great speed, is one of the strongest dudes his size in his class and has the ability and versatility to play a number of different positions. Also a very confident football player.

Potential impact: Serious. Spencer's just a true freshman but he already is on campus and will go through spring ball, which typically increases the chances for immediate playing time tremendously for freshmen. Rumor has it that KU's coaches would like to see Spencer on offense more than defense and that could mean slot receiver and/or running back.

Prediction: Solid offensive contributor.

Back to waiting...

9:36 a.m. Update:

Cross two more off the list or add them to it if that's how you roll.

Jon Kirby reporting that he confirmed fax sendings with juco wide receivers Rodriguez Coleman and Mark Thomas.

Here's a quick look at both guys, as well as the updated list:

Signed, sealed and delivered:
• Joey Bloomfield
• Ben Johnson
• Ishmael Hyman
• Isaiah Johnson
• Kellen Ash
• Jordan Darling
• Andrew Bolton
• Montell Cozart
• Kevin Short
• Rodriguez Coleman
• Mark Thomas

Of the players who were previously committed to KU, we're now down to Marcus Jenkins-Moore, Colton Goeas, Samson Faifili and Colin Spencer. And I can't see any of those four hitting a snag along the way.


Bio: 6-3, 195-pound wide receiver from Garden City C.C., who chose KU over Cincinnati and led the Jayhawk Conference with 64 receptions and 973 yards last season.

Most resembles: Dezmon Briscoe. Now, don't take that to mean that Coleman is going to be an all-Big 12 performer and an automatic NFL draft pick. He could be. But that's an awfully high ceiling. This comparison is merely based on their style of play. Coleman's a very fluid receiver who can make plays down the field and also has similar size to Briscoe.

Potential impact: Huge. It's hard to imagine him not having a role somewhere. He led the Jayhawk Conference in yards and receptions last season and that experience and his proven ability to make plays should give him a leg up on a lot of KU's receivers.

Prediction: Second or third WR.


Bio: 6-2, 210-pound wide receiver from Nassau C.C. in New York. Solid, physical wideout chose KU over UConn and Marshall.

Most resembles: Johnathan Wilson. There's nothing that flashy about Thomas but when surrounded by good talent he fits in, much the way Wilson did as the third receiver on the teams with Briscoe and Kerry Meier.

Potential impact: Given KU's need for quality bodies at the position, Thomas could work his way into a decent role quickly. Not getting to campus until June won't help his cause, but the opportunity to slide in as a rotation receiver this fall certainly figures to be there.

Prediction: Battling for a spot in the regular rotation.

9:17 a.m. Update:

And with that comes a big sigh of relief... Fort Scott Community College defensive back Kevin Short, who created a bit of a scare on Tuesday by flirting with New Mexico late, has signed and faxed his letter of intent and is now, officially, a member of the KU football program.

Short was definitely the biggest question mark heading into today, so getting this one locked up early is great news for the Jayhawks.

Here's a quick look at Short:


Bio: 6-2, 185-pound cornerback from Fort Scott C.C. Earned first-team NJCAA All-American honors last season and chose Kansas over multiple offers from BCS programs. Tuesday flirtations with New Mexico appeared to be much ado about nothing.

Most resembles: Bradley McDougald. Athletic, good ball skills and a ton of confidence. Short can play corner, safety and return kicks. He'll have to go to work in the weight room to become as productive as McDougald, but the potential certainly is there.

Potential impact: Solid. Again, there are all kinds of openings in that KU secondary and Short should be a guy who competes for regular playing time somewhere back there.

Prediction: On the field a lot, with KU playing nickel and dime coverages.

Short highlights:


9:09 a.m. Update:

Cozart's letter is in, which brings the total to eight. May hit a little lull here for the next hour as we wait on those guys out west to join the party.

Marcus Jenkins-Moore should be next. Told me he was signing at 8 a.m. Cali. time, which would be 10 a.m. here.

Here's the updated list:

Signed, sealed and delivered:
• Joey Bloomfield
• Ben Johnson
• Ishmael Hyman
• Isaiah Johnson
• Kellen Ash
• Jordan Darling
• Andrew Bolton
• Montell Cozart

8:57 a.m. Update:

Gotta figure we're getting close for Bishop Miege QB Montell Cozart. He told me the other day that he would have a signing party around 3 p.m. today but also said that he would be faxing his letter well before that.

I'm checking on his status right now.

Here's a quick look at Cozart, another local kid with tremendous talent and potential.

Local signees Jordan Darling, Montell Cozart and Ben Johnson at last year's season opener.

Local signees Jordan Darling, Montell Cozart and Ben Johnson at last year's season opener. by Matt Tait


Bio: 6-2, 180-pound quarterback from Bishop Miege High in Kansas City. Played high school football under current KU offensive line coach Tim Grunhard.

Most resembles: Mark Williams. Like Williams, who was the man for KU's 10-2 team in 1995, Cozart is tall, lean, athletic and a true quarterback. He does a little bit of everything really well.

Potential impact: Many people have speculated that Cozart is a position change waiting to happen, but it sure seems like he'll get every opportunity to show he can play quarterback first. Most of his reps early in his career figure to be with the scout team, but any reps are better than no reps and a year or two of working with Scott Holsopple could do wonders for Cozart's chances.

Prediction: Red-shirt, unless he can beat out Darling for that third-string spot, which is certainly within the realm of possibility.

8:39 a.m. Update:

This may have made its way around already, but I'm also seeing reports that John Wirtel, one of the nation's top long snappers, will join Whitfield in becoming a preferred walk-on at KU.

Wirtel, who stands 6-3, 207, has performed well at many of those specialists camps and appears to be a very solid pick up.

Still waiting for more letters...

8:21 a.m. Update:

Looks like monster defensive end Andrew Bolton can be added to the official list. This never seemed in doubt, but getting it done is huge for KU. I've heard nothing but great things about this guy and many I've talked to have described him as an absolute beast.

Signed, sealed and delivered:
• Joey Bloomfield
• Ben Johnson
• Ishmael Hyman
• Isaiah Johnson
• Kellen Ash
• Jordan Darling
• Andrew Bolton


Bio: 6-3, 280-pound defensive end from Hinds C.C. in Raymond, Miss. Clocked at 4.8 seconds in the 40-yard dash, Bolton also had offers from Iowa, LSU and Mississippi State.

Most resembles: No one. Not Jake Laptad, not Josh Williams, not Toben Opurum, not even Charlton Keith. Bolton plays at a speed and with a physical passion that few recent KU players have had.

Potential impact: Huge. Bolton has the look of an immediate starter and should significantly upgrade KU's ability to rush the quarterback. Even if he's not a starter, he'll play early and often.

Prediction: Starting strongside defensive end.

8:05 a.m. Update:

Jon Kirby over at JayhawkSlant.com is reporting that SM East QB Jordan Darling also has faxed in his letter, bringing this morning's total to six.

Never had much luck getting ahold of Darling.

Here's a quick look at the big, athletic Sunflower League QB.


Bio: 6-4, 226-pound quarterback from Shawnee Mission East High in Kansas City. Dominated summer camps and picked the Jayhawks over Kansas State.

Most resembles: Adam Barmann. Like Barmann when he arrived, Darling brings good size and great athleticism. His senior season at SM East left a little to be desired, but don't let that fool you. This kid has prototypical size, a big arm and huge upside.

Potential impact: It took both Michael Cummings and Turner Baty a while to get Weis' offense down last season, and those were two guys who already had been through the college football grind for a season. Darling's future is bright, but his impact seems to be a couple years out.

Prediction: Third-string QB who, like Turner Baty last year, will red-shirt if no one in front of him gets injured.

Signed, sealed and delivered:
• Joey Bloomfield
• Ben Johnson
• Ishmael Hyman
• Isaiah Johnson
• Kellen Ash
• Jordan Darling

7:57 a.m. Update:


Each year on signing day people ask about possible surprises. Naturally, fan bases at all schools would love to see one of those Top 10 guys who are still undecided pick their school and make it feel like they hit the jackpot.

At Kansas, the ceiling for such surprises is obviously a little lower, but the Jayhawks may have landed a guy who qualifies as a very pleasant surprised.

Michael Whitfield, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound “athlete” out of Marian High in Mishawaka, Ind., has Tweeted out the following message: “Next year. Lawrence.”

I haven't heard too much about Whitfield until today, but a little digging revealed that he went to the same school as KU long snapper Reilly Jeffers and he may be in line to join the program as a preferred walk-on.

The guy has good size, is regarded as a great athlete and earned all-conference honors as a running back as a senior.

Here's what his coach had to say about him before the start of the season:

"He's fast and he's very elusive," Marian coach Reggie Glon said. "Michael has put on some weight where he was minus a little bit on the inside run game, he's developed that. He's a dual threat running and catching the football."

Again, I realize this isn't the home run pick-up that all fans dream up, but this kid has some upside and, as we've seen, the coaching staff is simply doing all it can to add athletes, guys who can run and play in space. Whitfield appears to be one of those guys. It'll be interesting to see if he makes it here and, if he does, how he develops.

Here are some highlights:

7:41 a.m. Update:

Also hearing that LB Kellen Ash has faxed in, bringing the official total (so far) to five:

Signed, sealed and delivered:
• Joey Bloomfield
• Ben Johnson
• Ishmael Hyman
• Isaiah Johnson
• Kellen Ash

Here's a quick look at Ash:


Bio: 6-3, 194-pound linebacker from Parkway South High in Missouri. A three-star prospect, who committed to KU last April.

Most resembles: Courtney Arnick. I know we haven't seen Arnick play a down at KU yet, but we have seen film. And, like Arnick, Ash is one of those undersized linebackers who can fly.

Potential impact: KU defensive coordinator Dave Campo often talks about adding guys who can run and play in space. That, Campo says, is what it takes to compete in the Big 12. Ash certainly has the chance to be one of those guys, but he's also probably a year or two away.

Prediction: Red-shirt.

7:32 a.m. Update:

Just got a text from Iowa Western DB Isaiah Johnson, who said he's getting ready to sign. Here's a look at Johnson, who I think has a chance to be one of the bigger impact guys in this class.

Iowa Western DB Isaiah Johnson after making his commitment to KU official this morning.

Iowa Western DB Isaiah Johnson after making his commitment to KU official this morning. by Matt Tait


Bio: 6-1, 210-pound safety from Iowa Western C.C. Helped lead IWCC to a juco national title while leading the team with eight interceptions. Was named an NJCAA honorable mention All-American.

Most resembles: Justin Thornton. Thornton was a great athlete who had a natural ability to make plays when the ball was in the air. Johnson's the same type of player and, to KU's benefit, plays a little bigger than Thornton, who made it to the final cut with the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent and had one of the more underrated KU careers in recent memory.

Potential impact: Enormous. Not only does Johnson have big-time ability and solid experience, but he also comes in at a time when jobs in the KU secondary are up for grabs.

Prediction: Starter.

Isaiah Johnson with KU coach Charlie Weis.

Isaiah Johnson with KU coach Charlie Weis. by Matt Tait

7:27 a.m. Update:

New Jersey prep star Ishmael Hyman, a 6-foot, 169-pound wideout who played in the International Bowl in Austin, Texas, last night is the latest to send his letter in.

Hyman signed and faxed from Austin, where he and several others who played in last night's all-star game were treated to a signing day breakfast by the International Bowl folks.

Here's a look at Hyman, who brings the total number of letters in to three:

Signed, sealed and delivered:
• Joey Bloomfield
• Ben Johnson
• Ishmael Hyman


Bio: 6-foot, 169-pound wide receiver from St. Vianney High in Holmdel, N.J. Lightning quick playmaker who earned MVP honors at the Chesapeake Bowl in December chose KU over offers from Boston College, Purdue, Rutgers, Syracuse and others.

Most resembles: Charles Gordon/Daymond Patterson.

Potential impact: With the departure of Patterson and D.J. Beshears, there certainly seems to be an opening for a playmaker in the slot. Hyman has great wheels and is explosive. The only question will be if the guys who are here before him (think Tre' Parmalee, Colin Spencer) put enough distance between themselves and the dynmaic wideout before he gets to town.

Prediction: Seems like a good red-shirt candidate. But then again, so did Tre' Parmalee last year.

7:17 a.m. Update:

Ben Johnson video from YouTube.

7:08 a.m. Update:

Just for fun, as we wait for some of these central time zone guys to get started, here's what my signing day war room set up looked like not so bright but oh so early this morning.

Nothing fancy, but room to work. Thanks for checking out the blog!

Signing Day Central for Matt Tait in 2013.

Signing Day Central for Matt Tait in 2013. by Matt Tait

Here's new KU tight end Ben Johnson, of Basehor-Linwood High, in the Jayhawks' locker room during a recent visit.

Here's new KU tight end Ben Johnson, of Basehor-Linwood High, in the Jayhawks' locker room during a recent visit. by Matt Tait

7:01 a.m. Update:

Up next, I'm expecting to see something from local prospect Ben Johnson, a tight end from Basehor-Linwood High.

Johnson was the first in the class to commit to KU, way back in the February of 2012.

With that in mind, signing day has taken longer to arrive for Johnson than most. That's why he's so pumped about it finally being here.

"I will be signing as early as i can on Wednesday," Johnson told me recently. "I'm really excited to finally sign the paper and get this thing started. I committed over a year ago and I've been waiting for what feels like forever.. I just thank god for the opportunity he has put in front of me and am glad I get to play for the Jayhawks!


Here's a quick look at Johnson:


Bio: 6-5, 230-pound tight end from Basehor-Linwood High near Kansas City, Kan., was one of the first players in the class to commit.

Most resembles: Jordan Smith. Physically, Johnson, like Smith a season ago, looks ready to compete. He's big, athletic and can run and catch.

Potential impact: With a lot of experience ahead of him, Johnson faces and uphill battle to get immediate reps, but he provides KU with good depth and a pleasant future at the position.

Prediction: Red-shirt.

Your newest Kansas Jayhawk, offensive lineman Joey Bloomfield.

Your newest Kansas Jayhawk, offensive lineman Joey Bloomfield. by Matt Tait

6:46 a.m. Update:

Just got the above photo from Bloomfield. Looks sharp in that suit and cap. On to the next one, which should come in around 7 a.m.

The fun's just beginning!

6:16 a.m. Update:

Bloomfield, like many of these other guys, will be hosting a signing ceremony at his school around 3:15 p.m. this afternoon in the Fine Arts Center at his high school. But the official part should be over with any minute now.

Here's a nice YouTube feature from last summer on Bloomfield with a few highlights.

Original post, 6:01 a.m.

Good morning KU football fans. I hope you've got your coffee handy, maybe a nice pastry and are ready to hammer away at that refresh button. We're certainly going to keep you busy this morning.

It's hard to believe that another signing day already is upon us. It seems like not that long ago that we were sitting in Mrkonic Auditorium listening to KU coach Charlie Weis talk about the “new guys” he was bringing in and now we're already on to a second — perhaps even third, depending on your perspective — set of “new guys.”

This year's class figures to be one of the most entertaining to follow in recent memory. Who knows how many of these guys will pan out or become big-time players for KU, but the hype is certainly there and, it's safe to say that the group as a whole certainly does not lack confidence.

This morning, we'll be tracking the letters of intent of 15 KU commitments. Ten others already signed in December and many of them are on campus, taking classes and preparing for spring ball, which, by the way, is now less than a month out. Crazy!

As for the 15 guys who we're tracking this morning, it seems like things should be pretty straight forward for nearly all of them (famous last words, right?).

We already experienced a bit of a wildcard on Tuesday, when Fort Scott C.C. defensive back Kevin Short took to Twitter to announced he was switching his commitment, only to rethink it and stick with KU in the long run. If that's the only so-called “wrinkle” the Jayhawks experience during this year's signing day madness, that's not bad.

There, of course, is always something wild and crazy that pops up, be it a late commitment, a totally new name out of the blue or something unforeseen altogether. So, as we try to keep tabs on the guys we know are signing, I'll also be keeping an eye, ear and nose out for any other potential goings on.

With it just now hitting 7:00 a.m. on the east coast, some of the first letters could be on their way to the fax machines any minute. So, let's get after it.

By my calculations, Louisville, Kent., offensive lineman Joey Bloomfield, of Ballard High, should be one of the first members of the Class of 2013 to send his letter in to the football office.

Here's a quick look at Bloomfield. We'll have similar capsules on all of the signees throughout the morning, as well as quotes, photos and reaction from their big days. In addition, Weis is hosting a press conference at 1:00 p.m. CST.

Here we go!

Class of 2013 offensive lineman Joey Bloomfield is expected to be among the first KU commitments to fax his letter of intent to the KU football offices.

Class of 2013 offensive lineman Joey Bloomfield is expected to be among the first KU commitments to fax his letter of intent to the KU football offices. by Matt Tait


Bio: 6-6, 305-pound offensive tackle from Ballard High in Louisville, Ky., who chose KU over offers from Air Force, Colorado, Houston, Kansas State, San Diego State and Wyoming.

Most resembles: Riley Spencer. KU has not brought to campus too many high school lineman with the kind of size and athleticism that Bloomfield possesses. Spencer, who could be one of KU's starting tackles this fall, came in at 6-6, 270, and Bloomfield has 35 pounds on him.

Potential impact: It's rare for a true freshman offensive lineman to contribute right away, but with all kinds of openings on KU's offensive line, at both first- and second-string spots, there's a chance that Bloomfield, with a killer camp, could make his way into the mix. He's most likely a very promising piece for 2014 and beyond.

Prediction: Red-shirt.


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