Posts tagged with Ku Football

Harris, Talib offer bright spot during dark days of KU football

Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris (25) and Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib (21) celebrate after an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in Denver. The Broncos won 29-10 to improve to 7-0. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris (25) and Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib (21) celebrate after an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in Denver. The Broncos won 29-10 to improve to 7-0. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

Sunday night was a good night for fans of Kansas University football.

However short the moment might have been, the few hours that made up and followed the Denver Broncos’ 24-10 victory over Carolina in Super Bowl 50 gave KU fans an opportunity to brag on a couple of their own.

Former Jayhawks Chris Harris and Aqib Talib, starting cornerbacks for the Broncos’ dominant defense, played a big role in knocking off the Panthers and delivering the third world championship to Denver.

Sunday’s Denver victory marked the first time since offensive lineman Justin Hartwig won Super Bowl XLIII with the Pittsburgh Steelers that a former Jayhawk stood on top at the end of an NFL season and just the second time ever that a pair of teammates who played their college ball at Kansas won football’s top prize together, joining Don Davis and Rod Jones, who helped St. Louis win Super Bowl XXXVI.

Obviously, Talib and Harris winning a Super Bowl does not erase the misery of the past six KU football seasons. Nor does it automatically make the outlook for the next year or two suddenly sunnier than it once was.

But bragging rights are bragging rights and when you’re a fan base as starved for success and feel-good moments as KU’s, you take ‘em where you can get ‘em, and this was certainly a place where you could get it.

For starters, Harris is as good of an ambassador for KU football as there is on the planet. He’s proud of his time at Kansas, still keeps up with the program regularly — even going as far as to watch and Tweet about most of KU’s games on Saturdays — and every time I’ve talked with him in the past five years has spent a good 5-10 minutes of each conversation drilling me on the ins and outs of the KU program and the Jayhawks’ chances at turning things around. He lives that whole “Once a Jayhawk, always a Jayhawk” thing.

Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris signs autographs after drills at the team's NFL football training camp Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris signs autographs after drills at the team's NFL football training camp Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

And he deserves every bit of the success and credit he is getting for helping Denver win it all. Mostly, because he created it for himself.

Undrafted out of college, Harris worked his butt off to make the Broncos’ roster as a free agent and made his way up through the ranks by standing out on special teams. There came a point, early on, when his passion, heart and effort spoke so loudly that the coaches had to put him on the field on defense to see what he could do. The only thing that has pulled him off since then is injury.

And now Harris and Talib, who started in KU’s secondary on that Orange Bowl championship team back in 2008, can put a little NFL hardware next to their college accolades. Knowing these guys, you can bet that simply tasting that kind of success is only going to make both guys even more hungry for more in the future.

Most of this you know. I’m aware of that. But one of the things that seems to be missing from the feel-good narrative of the former Jayhawks turned NFL champs is the incredible amount of work both players have put in to get to this point.

Give former Kansas coach Mark Mangino plenty of credit for recruiting both of them. For different reasons, each player was an overlooked or unwanted two-star prospect with few other options and Mangino saw enough in both of them to roll the dice. I know these guys love the man and appreciate everything he did for them and their careers.

But to say Mangino developed them into the players they are today is wildly underselling the commitment to excellence that both players have displayed throughout their post-KU careers.

As a four-year starter for the Jayhawks, senior cornerback Chris Harris has seen the highs and lows of the football program. His freshman year culminated in an Orange Bowl victory. In his senior year, the team is 2-6 going into today’s home game against Colorado.

As a four-year starter for the Jayhawks, senior cornerback Chris Harris has seen the highs and lows of the football program. His freshman year culminated in an Orange Bowl victory. In his senior year, the team is 2-6 going into today’s home game against Colorado. by Nick Krug

Particularly Harris.

Talib, the former All-American, possessed such raw talent and incredible ability — not to mention all of the confidence in the world — that he parlayed his stellar KU career into becoming a first-round pick in the NFL Draft and has been highly sought after throughout his pro career, even if his antics on and off the field have given him less than a sterling reputation. Still, put away all of the extra-curricular activities and trash talk and Talib’s talent is undeniable.

For Harris, it’s been a little bit different. Jerked around throughout college, some by Mangino and a lot more by Mangino replacement Turner Gill, Harris had to overcome way more than going undrafted to get to this point. And he’s done it with a huge smile and even bigger chip on his shoulder every step of the way. Not that you’d ever know about the second part. Harris is one of the genuinely nicest players in the game today and his passion for helping people has earned him all kinds of well deserved recognition in Denver and his native Bixby, Oklahoma.

No one but Harris (along with a handful of his closest friends and personal trainers) helped him make the Broncos’ roster that summer in 2011 after the NFL lockout — another obstacle that made Harris’ path to pro success more difficult — and no one but Harris put in the work to become bigger, stronger, faster and flat-out better to the point where he soon would become one of the top-paid and most respected cornerbacks in today’s game.

During my time covering Kansas, Harris is by far the one athlete, in any sport, who blew my mind with the way he improved by leaps and bounds after he left KU.

Was he a fantastic player at Kansas? You bet. But Harris made himself a future Super Bowl champion and top-tier NFL cornerback by putting crazy amounts of work after he left.

Sunday night it paid off and I don’t doubt for a second that Harris was thrilled to bring KU fans along for the ride.

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Breaking Down the 2016 KU Football Recruiting Class

Here's a look at what KU recruits saw in their rooms on their official visits.

Here's a look at what KU recruits saw in their rooms on their official visits. by Matt Tait

Breaking down the 2016 class

Total signees: 17
High school players: 14
Junior college players: 3
From Texas: 10
From Kansas: 2
From Oklahoma: 2
From Florida, Louisiana, California: 1 each
Defensive backs: 6
Offensive linemen: 4
Wide receivers: 1
Defensive linemen: 3
Running backs: 1
Quarterbacks: 1
Linebackers: 1

Depending on where you look, this KU football class of 2016 is ranked somewhere between 80-100 nationally.

Now before you throw your papers and spit out your coffee, you should remember that the class only has 17 signees in it and that hurts KU in these rankings. Even adding eight more two-star players would probably help KU jump 20-25 spots, so keep that in mind as you digest the class.

Regardless of where they are and/or would be, I realize that KU’s current standing in the recruiting world is not a lot to brag about. And that only further hammers home the point that, given the state of Kansas football, getting this thing turned around is not going to be about the rankings and star ratings, it's going to be about coaching and development of the athletes KU is able to land.

A couple of months ago, before well over half of this class had even been secured, KU coach David Beaty told me he felt good about the direction they were headed in with recruiting because the players they were in on were Big 12-caliber athletes.

Now, KU didn't get them all and that does not mean that the ones they did get had other Big 12 schools on their lists (some did, some didn't). But I trust that Beaty and this staff know what Big 12 athletes look like and his words, based on that, sounded at least a little encouraging.

Again, though, if these coaches don't develop the athletes they do get and coach effort and maximization of their potential, none of it will matter and KU will continue to occupy the Big 12 basement.

That's why you've got to give them time, though.

With that in mind, here’s a quick breakdown of the 2016 class.

New KU linebacker Maciah Long.

New KU linebacker Maciah Long. by Matt Tait

Top-rated prospect:

• Houston’s North Shore High linebacker Maciah Long. Long not only had the most big time programs after him, but he also is one of the best athletes in the class. Despite standing 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, the future KU linebacker led North Shore to a state title as the team’s quarterback. That speaks to his athleticism and ability to move and when you add that to his size and fearless nature, you’re looking at a guy who could have a very bright future in the KU program. The odds are good that he’ll get playing time right away and even better that he could be on his way to becoming a three-year starter in the middle of that Kansas defense.

Juco addition expected to make biggest impact:

• DB Stephan Robinson — The coaching staff was very excited to get Robinson back in December, mostly because they see his D-I potential on the defensive side of the ball. An accomplished receiver throughout his high school and juco career, Robinson has the raw tools needed to play defensive back and already has some experience on defense. Given KU’s need for talent and depth at corner, Robinson will get a chance to play right away if he can pick up KU’s system and bring maximum effort. His arrival in time for spring football only increases his chances of making a splash.

True freshman expected to make biggest impact:

• It’s probably a coin flip between LB Maciah Long and CB Kyle Mayberry, with WR Evan Fairs right there. Because of the demands of playing linebacker against Big 12 offenses, I’d lean toward Mayberry or Fairs, with Mayberry having the slight edge simply because he plays at a position with far less depth. All three are talented players and I expect each of them to make an immediate impact while also upgrading the talent level at their positions over what KU was playing in 2015.

New KU cornerback Kyle "Money" Mayberry.

New KU cornerback Kyle "Money" Mayberry. by Matt Tait

Five who could play right away:

1. CB Kyle Mayberry – Extremely confident and very mature for his age, Mayberry also has the skills to back it up and should be a fixture at the corner position for years to come.

2. WR Evan Fairs – His frame alone (6-3, 182) will open your eyes and when you see him run, it won’t take you long to visualize him making big plays for the KU offense.

3. LB Maciah Long – With his combination of size, speed and tenacity, it’s going to be hard to keep this guy off the field, especially since he plays a position that already is pretty thin.

4. DB Stephan Robinson – At the very least figures to give KU quality depth at the corner spot. But given that he’s here in time for spring practices, working his way into a starting role is not out of the equation.

5. DT Isi Holani – Juco transfer from Riverside Community College arrived in time for spring practices and steps into a situation where KU needs bodies. The physical and explosive D-tackle is not only likely to play right away, but he also very easily could wind up starting.

Three with the greatest long-term potential:

1. DE Isaiah Bean – Undersized for now, Bean has the look of a player who, with 25-35 added pounds, could become a beast in a couple of years. He was KU’s answer to losing Lawrence High prospect Amani Bledsoe and even though he’s not physically ready to contribute the way Bledsoe would’ve been, he’s probably a better athlete overall and, like many players in this class, will be driven by the underrated/overlooked card.

2. OL Chris Hughes – The No. 2 rated player in this class, according to 247Sports, Hughes has a great pedigree, comes from a family of big time athletes and already at 6-4, 260, has the kind of frame that could add weight easily without impacting his athleticism. Ranked as the 68th best offensive tackle nationally, Hughes just missed cracking the Texas 100.

3. DB Ian Peterson – The 5-11, 175-pound cornerback ranked as the 152nd best player in Texas might not be ready right away, but his blend of top-end speed and extreme physicality make him a name to stash away in the back of your mind. If given a year to red-shirt and adjust to the college game while working in the weight room to add to his already impressive build, Peterson could emerge as a quality option at safety in the years to come.

A look at the view new KU DB Ian Peterson had on his official visit.

A look at the view new KU DB Ian Peterson had on his official visit. by Matt Tait

Best nickname:

• All O.J. jokes aside, Florida running back Khalil “Juice” Herbert has to get the nod here. I’ve also heard to him referred to as “Juicy” but either one has a nice ring to it, especially for a running back who will have the ball in his hands and

Pronunciation guide:

• Maciah = Ma-kye-uh
• Isi = Ee-See
• Antione = An-twon
• Khalil = Ka-lil
• Torneden = Tore-Nay-Den
• Dagan Haehn = Day-gun Hawn
• Shola Ayinde = Show-la Eye-In-Day

Greatest need addressed:

• I think KU did a fantastic job in the secondary, bringing in a handful of defensive backs who seem to be poised to play right away, with Mayberry and Robinson leading the charge. In terms of the future, KU did a nice job up front on the offensive line, adding three or four quality players who should be given the opportunity to red-shirt and develop, the way offensive linemen are supposed to.

Greatest need still present:

After years of being stacked at the running back position, KU is all of a sudden pretty thin in the backfield. Ke’aun Kinner is back and he performed well when he was healthy in 2015. Behind him, however, is a host of unproven players, including sophomores Taylor Martin and Ryan Schadler, who was used primarily as a kick returner last season. KU added Heritage High tailback Khalil Herbert in the class and he looks like a decent player, who certainly could develop, but KU remains thin at the position and could’ve used another back. The low number of available scholarships likely cost them the opportunity to add another alongside Herbert.

New KU QB Tyriek Starks.

New KU QB Tyriek Starks. by Matt Tait

Biggest steal:

• I’m going with New Orleans quarterback Tyriek Starks, who has good size (6-2, 188), is a great athlete and seems to be pretty underrated, with only Tulane and Georgia Southern going hard after him. KU got in on Starks late — when they were in the area recruiting some players from nearby powerhouse Neville High — but once they saw him, they went after him with the full-court press. David Beaty was one of the first to go down to see him and, just a few days later, Starks picked Kansas. He told me the other day that the system they ran at Warren Easton High in New Orleans was very similar to what KU runs under Beaty and OC Rob Likens and he absolutely looks the part of the type of QB KU is looking for. The funny thing about Starks that makes him fit this category even better was that KU was not even looking for a quarterback in this class, but simply could not pass him up when they found him. The extra benefit here is that, if for some reason Starks does not pan out at QB, he’s got the size and athleticism to be tried at a number of other positions and he said he would be willing to play wherever if it wasn’t working out at quarterback. But he’s a QB first and wants to give it all he’s got there before moving.

Best walk-on:

• It’s early, and you can bet more are coming, but I’ll go with another QB here, Lake Dallas, Texas, prospect Dagan Haehn. If not for an injury the summer before his senior season, Haehn likely would’ve landed a scholarship offer to a Power 5 program. The injury cost him some exposure, but he was still able to turn in some solid stats during the second half of his senior season. He moves well, has a strong arm and is well versed in the type of offense KU wants to run. If he comes all the way back from that injury without losing speed and athleticism, he becomes a very intriguing prospect for down the road.

Overall grade:

I’ll give the KU coaching staff a C+ for this class and mostly because it only includes 17 players. Part of that was this staff’s fault, for counting eight players forward last year, but part of that was because they were trying to make up for the numbers crisis they stepped into. Numbers aside, Beaty and company addressed several needs with the group, added a bunch of versatile athletes with the potential to play multiple positions and also somehow found the room to take a couple of high-upside athletes such as Starks and Lawrence prospect Bryce Torneden, whom I’m absolutely convinced will be on KU’s two-deep depth chart by his red-shirt sophomore season at the latest. The three mid-year transfers all filled serious needs and the class includes a good mix of ready-made players and future projects, many of who should be given the necessary time to red-shirt, develop and contribute down the road in Year 2 or 3.

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Rise & Sign: KU Football set to usher in 2016 recruiting class

It's national signing day for KU football.

It's national signing day for KU football. by Matt Tait

11:26 a.m. Update:

I didn't want to copy and paste this here because it would've made this blog one that you could scroll down on forever. But I wanted to make sure you all caught my breakdown of the 2016 class that I posted in another blog.

It includes some of the top players to watch, the biggest need addressed, the steal of the class and an overall grade.

So be sure to check out my complete breakdown of the 2016 KU Football recruiting class and stay tuned in to this blog for any breaking news and/or further feedback I get from the players in the class.

KU coach David Beaty will have a press conference at 2 p.m. to talk about the class and we'll have the presser available to watch right here.

From everything I've been told, there are no expected surprises ahead, so I'm gonna grab some lunch and get prepped for the press conference.

9:49 a.m. Update:

Kyle "Money" Mayberry promised me the other day when I talked to him that he had a fresh look lined up for signing day. He just sent me this photo of his signing this morning and I think the bowtie got the job done.

New KU cornerback Kyle "Money" Mayberry signing his letter of intent Wednesday morning.

New KU cornerback Kyle "Money" Mayberry signing his letter of intent Wednesday morning. by Matt Tait

9:33 a.m. Update:

Just took another glance at the updated 247Sports recruiting rankings for 2016. KU is still listed 82nd (a big reason for that is the 17-man class being 8 players shy of most other classes) with Kansas State, in 68th, as the next closest Big 12 team.

You have to go all the way down to Baylor at No. 15 before you bump into a Big 12 program, but there are four in the Top 24 — Baylor at 15, Texas at 17, TCU at 18 and OU at 24.

Some notable programs that KU is actually listed ahead of are: San Diego State (87), Purdue (94), Louisiana Tech (96) and Air Force (108). Not exactly a list to brag about there, which only further hammers home the point that, given the current state of Kansas football, it's not going to be about the rankings and star ratings, it's going to be about coaching and development of the athletes KU is able to land.

A couple of months ago, before well over half of this class had even been secured, Beaty told me he felt good about the direction they were headed in with recruiting because the guys they were in on were Big 12-caliber athletes. Now, they didn't get them all and that does not mean that the ones they did get had other Big 12 schools on their lists (some did, some didn't), but I trust that Beaty and this staff know what Big 12 athletes look like and his words, based on that, sounded at least a little encouraging.

Again, though, if these coaches don't develop these guys and coach effort and maximization of their potential, none of it will matter and KU will continue to occupy the Big 12 basement.

That's why you've got to give them time, though.

Much more to come today...

9:16 a.m. Update:

While this blog recaps all of the scholarship players signing with Kansas in the 2016 class, it's important to remember that KU also has landed a number of impressive walk-ons who, eventually, could play an important role in the program.

The development of a quality walk-on program was one of KU coach David Beaty's first and biggest priorities upon arriving at Kansas and, although he has barely had a full year to get it off the ground, the early returns are good and KU keeps adding to it and trying to entice quality athletes to join the football program via the walk-on route.

For some, the idea behind joining up is that it gives them a chance to keep playing the game they love. Those guys are happy with practice reps, running scout team and doing their part to make the other guys better.

For others (and this is the majority of KU's current walk-ons) the idea behind signing up for the walk-on role is to take advantage of the opportunity to prove yourself, with the hope that what you do during your first year or two in the program will lead to a scholarship offer down the road.

Those walk-on-to-scholarship guys are far from a guarantee, but Beaty already has shown that he is not afraid to reward guys who work hard, especially if he believes they can help the program.

Having said that, the 2016 also includes a few walk-ons who are worth noting and Beaty himself did a nice job of making them feel like a part of the program this morning, as well.

The walk-on thing can be pretty fluid, so it's best to wait until after spring football to come up with an actual list of all of the names added to the roster via walk-ons. But the players listed above are a few future Jayhawks who you can count on to stick it out and possibly contribute down the road.

Still working on that superlatives list about this year's class. Stay tuned...

8:17 a.m. Update:

Just got this photo of new KU offensive lineman Hunter Harris, who was one of the first to sign this morning and then got cleaned up and decked out in his KU blue.

New KU offensive lineman Hunter Harris proudly rockin' his KU blue.

New KU offensive lineman Hunter Harris proudly rockin' his KU blue. by Matt Tait

Here's a look at Harris' highlight film...

8:11 a.m. Update:

Offensive lineman Antione Frazier Tweeted out "It's official now," at 7:58 a.m., making it exactly 57 minutes from the time KU opened for business until the time it received its last letter of intent.

This class, regardless of what it does on the field, will always go down as one of the favorites of the KU coaching staff for making what can be one heck of a stressful day an absolute breeze.

I'll have a lot more reaction and will continue to track these guys throughout the morning, so be sure to keep it right here for updates. Then, at 2 p.m. today KU coach David Beaty will host a signing day press conference where he'll get to talk about these cats and answer questions about a light but solid KU football class.

Here's a quick look at some highlights from the last man to hit send, Mr. Frazier...

OL Antione Frazier – 6-5, 250, 2 stars, Hargrave High, Huffman, Texas

Don't forget, the 12 athletes who sent their letters today join the three mid-year transfers (DT DeeIsaac Davis, DT Isi Holani and DB Stephan Robinson) and two former 2015 commitments who were delayed a year (OL Cam Durley and DB Shola Ayinde) to make up a 17-man class for KU football.

More to come, so keep it right here...

8:01 a.m. Update:

For those interested in tracking some of the fun yourself throughout the day, here's a list of 15 of the 17 Twitter handles for the newest Jayhawks in the class of 2016. The only ones I could not find were O-Lineman Chris Hughes and DB Shola Ayinde.

Tyriek Starks — @saucytj9

Ian Peterson – @Dash_Era

Hunter Harris – @bearcats75

Antione Frazier – @antionekfrazier

DeeIsaac Davis – @DeeIsaac99

Isi Holani – @TheIsiHolani

Julian Chandler – @The_RealNumber1

Bryce Torneden – @_nado

Evan Fairs – @_EvoOcho

Kyle Mayberry – @moneymayberry

Maciah Long – @Godss__giftt

Isaiah Bean – @IsaiahBean_8

Khalil Herbert – @JuiceHerbert

Stephan Robinson – @Stephanrob11

Cam Durley – @CamDurley31

Still waiting on official word from Frazier...

7:55 a.m. Update:

Less than an hour after lines officially opened for national letters of intent to be sent in, KU football is almost finished announcing its 2016 class.

That's not to say a couple of surprises could not come up in the coming hours and/or days, but of the guys who were committed, KU has landed just about all of them and it's not even 8:00 a.m.

Regardless of what you think about their ability or the overall strength of this class, that has to be considered a good sign, (a) because these kids were so fired up to sign with Kansas that they wasted no time in doing so, and (b) because so many of these guys fill immediate needs for the Jayhawks.

That does not mean that they're all going to step right in and play like all-Big 12 caliber studs. Most of them are going to need (and get) time to develop. But there are a few guys you can expect to see contribute right away and when all of the letters are officially in, we'll get into that and much more on this, an incredibly smooth national signing day for KU football

Updated commitment list:

RB Khalil "Juice" Herbert
OL Hunter Harris
DB Ian Peterson
OL Chris Hughes
DB Julian Chandler
WR Evan Fairs
CB Kyle Mayberry
LB Maciah Long
DB Bryce Torneden
QB Tyriek Starks
DE Isaiah Bean

The only known commitment not accounted for yet is O-Lineman Antione Frazier and I don't think there's anything to worry about with him.

More to come...

7:47 a.m. Update:

Remember all that energy, passion and enthusiasm second-year KU coach David Beaty is known for? Yeah, it's showing up hardcore today as he announces this class on Twitter. Here's a taste of some of Beaty's best intros...

He's been Tweeting like this for every letter that has come in this morning.

7:44 a.m. Update:

For those of you gunning for a little perspective on all these names we're throwing at you, here's a nice look at how this class stacks up according to the composite rankings from the guys at 247 Sports.

7:39 a.m. Update:

A few more highlight reels of KU's newest commitments while we wait for pictures and instant feedback...

Here's the updated list, which, already, is nearly complete...

RB Khalil "Juice" Herbert
OL Hunter Harris
DB Ian Peterson
OL Chris Hughes
DB Julian Chandler
WR Evan Fairs
CB Kyle Mayberry
LB Maciah Long
DB Bryce Torneden

S Bryce Torneden – 5-10, 185, 2 stars, Free State High, Lawrence, Kansas —

OL Chris Hughes – 6-5, 260, 3 stars, Harker Heights (Texas) High —

DB Julian Chandler – 6-0, 170, 3 stars, Hightower (Texas) High –

7:33 a.m. Update:

Add Kyle "Money" Mayberry to the list of letters that have arrived.

Mayberry, one of the most confident recruits I have ever talked to, is all about KU and wants to do whatever he can to help rebuild this program. He played a huge role in coordinating the bond between this incoming class and figures to get as good of a shot as any of the newcomers at playing right away, given (a) KU's need at the CB position and (b) his advanced skills.

Here's a look at a few highlights from the man they call "Money," a nickname given to him way back in eighth grade because the confidence he carried himself with reminded so many around him of the boxer, Floyd "Money" Mayweather.

That's no small compliment.

Updated commitment list:

RB Khalil "Juice" Herbert
OL Hunter Harris
DB Ian Peterson
OL Chris Hughes
DB Julian Chandler
WR Evan Fairs
CB Kyle Mayberry
LB Maciah Long

7:27 a.m. Update:

The list of letters that have reached Lawrence continues to grow quickly....

RB Khalil "Juice" Herbert
OL Hunter Harris
DB Ian Peterson
OL Chris Hughes
DB Julian Chandler
WR Evan Fairs

Of this group, Fairs might be the one that KU fans should be most excited about. At 6-3, 182 pounds, he's already got the size and skills needed to play on the outside. He told me the other day that he prides himself on being a red zone threat but also is not afraid or unwilling to play inside and make tough catches over the middle.

He lists guys like Dez Bryant, Julio Jones and Calvin Johnson as WRs he likes to try to emulate and said he liked the idea of KU having two coaches for the WR position, returning coach Klint Kubiak and newly hired outside receivers coach Jason Phillips.

“I feel like it's an advantage," Fairs said. "Coach Phillips is the outside guy and it's good because we can work more in detail and get down to the nitty gritty.”

Here's a few highlights of this guy whose name you'll learn very quickly.

7:18 a.m. Update:

Starting to get some confirmations. Here's a list of the letters I know have been sent:

RB Khalil "Juice" Herbert
OL Hunter Harris
DB Ian Peterson

Peterson sent me this photo of his early-morning John Hancock.

New KU DB Ian Peterson signing his letter early Wednesday morning.

New KU DB Ian Peterson signing his letter early Wednesday morning. by Matt Tait

And also a few Peterson highlights...

7:07 a.m. Update:

Now that we're in the 7 o'clock hour, the signings should be rolling in fast and furious.

Most are sent digitally these days, which makes the fax machine even more obsolete, but there are still some delays and small glitches that keep these things from being automatic.

That said, we know Herbert's letter has arrived and we're waiting word on the others.

6:53 a.m. Update:

While we wait for Herbert's letter to be confirmed, let's jump ahead a couple of minutes to Maciah Long (pronounced Ma-Kye-Uh) who, at least according to Twitter, seems to be the most jacked up of all to get that letter signed and sent.

Long, a 3-star LB from North Shore High in Houston, who also played quarterback and led his team to a state title, is one of the more confident recruits I can ever remember talking to. He believes he can step in right away and not only contribute but also provide leadership for his new squad.

KU D-Line coach Calvin Thibodeaux played a huge role in landing Long and, just recently, the 6-2, 240-pound athlete said he developed a great bond with new KU linebackers coach Todd Bradford.

"My first take on him was nice guy, nice coach, knows a lot about football," Long said. "He's been in the industry for a long time. It all changed this past weekend and now my take on him is, 'That's my coach,' and I'm ready to work with him. I like his vibe and we spent a lot of time bonding throughout the whole weekend." 

Here's a quick look at some of Long's highlights, including a QB clip that shows how good his feet are.

6:46 a.m. Update:

According to 247 Sports' composite recruiting rankings (which has KU's class listed 82nd in the nation), Herbert is a three-star prospect with a score of .7986. He's listed as the 143rd best player at his position and 308th best player in his home state.

For a point of reference, Houston LB Maciah Long, who 247 Sports lists as KU's top prospect in this class, has a score of .8610.

6:36 a.m. Update:

Talked with Herbert the other day and he said he never in a million years would've believed he would wind up in Kansas for college.

"I thought maybe the ACC," the Fort Lauderdale-area prospect said. "But I'm just grateful for the opportunity."

Herbert, who spent a good chunk of his prep career training with former KU standout Tony Sands, said he met Sands after breaking his wrist his sophomore year when his dad sought out a trainer and found Sands. He knew nothing about Sands' playing career or former single-game rushing record and said he was shocked when he saw Sands' name on the list a couple of years ago (after Melvin Gordon and Samaje Perine set the new records) because Sands never had mentioned it.

Asked what his relationship was like with Sands, Herbert said it was simple: He doesn't talk a whole lot, he just keeps me focused on doing what I need to do.

As for how things went when he tolds Sands he was headed to KU: "He was excited," Herbert said. "He told me to go break all his records."

Here's a look at some Herbert highlights....

RB Khalil Herbert – 5-10, 190, 2 stars, Heritage High, Plantation, Florida —

6:06 a.m. Update:

Here's a quick look at RB Khalil Herbert (pronounced Ka-Lil) from his official visit while we await confirmation of his letter being sent to Lawrence.

Original Post, 5:39 a.m.

If everything goes according to plan, Plantation, Florida, running back Khalil Herbert will become the first member of KU’s 2016 football recruiting class to make his commitment official on national signing day.

The reason? Herbert lives in the Eastern time zone and that gives him the one-hour head start on the rest of this KU class that is eager to make things official at the first possible moment.

Having said that, Herbert, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound, two-star running back from the Fort Lauderdale area, will have to make sure his ducks are in a row if he wants the distinction of being the first player to get his letter in today.

That’s because there are a whole bunch of Midwesterners and Texas prospects who are dying to hit send on their signatures.

Eight of the 11 other commitments I spoke with during the past few days told me they planned to send their letters in at 7:01 a.m. In all the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve never heard of so many recruits using the exact time of 7:01 as the answer for when they’d be sending in their letters. Sure, some have been as eager as these athletes and have listed the first possible minute allowed by the NCAA as the time they would send their letter to KU. But many often said, “around 7,” or “first thing in the morning,” or other more general time frames.

The fact that so many guys mentioned 7:01 a.m. makes me think this is going to be a stress-free signing day for the KU coaching staff. These fellas are ready to sign and make their commitments official.

With that in mind, here’s our Class of 2016 recruiting page with the bios of the prospects in the class and links to the back story of how, when and why each athlete committed to KU.

And here are the specifics of the entire class, three of whom signed in December and two more who initially were members of the 2015 class but were delayed and bumped back to the Class of 2016.

You’ll note that there are only 17 names listed here and if you’re up this early and reading this blog, I’m guessing you already know why. But in case you don’t, here’s a quick recap.

Because KU coach David Beaty was in search of as much immediate help as he could find last season, eight players who arrived on campus prior to the start of the 2015 season wound up counting forward to the 2016 class. That trimmed the number of initial counters in the current class from the 25 maximum allowed annually by NCAA rules to 17.

Beaty and company, of course, remain dedicated to being as creative as possible in enticing talent to come to Lawrence via the walk-on route or other arrangements. And, from the sound of things, the walk-on program continues to attract talented athletes.

Because of the number crunch, I’m not expecting too many surprises today, if any. However, having said that, if Beaty were to come across an uncommitted athlete whom he thought could (a) upgrade the talent on the roster at a given position or (b) start for the Jayhawks as soon as 2016, you can bet he’d find a way to get him into the program, most likely the same way he brought those eight other guys to Lawrence last season.

Continuing to count players forward is not exactly the fastest way to dig out of the numbers jam KU football is in, but talent talks.

Without further ado, here’s a look at the class. Now, sit back, get comfortable and keep it right here as we track the letters coming in and the happenings of yet another national signing day.

KU Football’s Class of 2016:

DB Shola Ayinde – 6-0, 168, 2 stars, George Ranch High, Richmond, Texas – Originally a member of KU's 2015 class, Ayinde did not make it to campus last year and, instead, will add depth to the secondary in 2016. Known for range and speed, Ayinde once had committed to Tulsa but followed former TU assistant coach Calvin Thibodeaux to Kansas.

DE Isaiah Bean – 6-4, 210, 2 stars, Summer Creek High, Houston, Texas – Explosive prospect who has experience on both sides of the ball became KU's top choice at the position after local talent Amani Bledsoe chose Oklahoma. Picked KU over Tulsa and Fresno State.

DB Julian Chandler – 6-0, 170, 3 stars, Hightower (Texas) High – Had committed to Louisiana Tech but de-committed late in the game and picked KU over offers from Nevada, New Mexico and North Texas.

DT DeeIsaac Davis – 6-3, 290, 2 stars, Highland C.C. – A Wichita native, Davis played his first year of college football at Eastern Arizona and recorded 76 tackles before moving on to Highland C.C. and registering 76 tackles and five sacks. Signed with KU in December and is already on campus.

OL Cam Durley – 6-6, 275, 2 stars, Houston Chrisitian High, Houston, Texas – Originally a late addition to the 2015 class, the big, athletic, rangy tackle was delayed a year and is now in KU's 2016 class. Chose KU over McNeese State, San Diego State, TCU and Temple along with interest from Texas Tech.

WR Evan Fairs – 6-3, 182, 2 stars, Foster High, Richmond, Texas — A finalist for the Houston Touchdown Club offensive player of the year award in 2015, Fairs picked Kansas over Illinois after initially committing to Maryland and re-opening his recruitment when the coaching staff was fired.

OL Antione Frazier – 6-5, 250, 2 stars, Hargrave High, Huffman, Texas — A two-star offensive tackle, Frazier played both ways for Hargrave and committed to KU offensive line coach Zach Yenser in February of 2015, before his senior high school season. Picked KU over early interest from Houston, Iowa and Texas A&M.

OL Hunter Harris — 6-2, 257, 2 stars, Aledo (Texas) High, — A two-star offensive lineman from Aledo, Texas, Harris had offers from Cal, Princeton and Tulsa, as well, before committing to Kansas.

RB Khalil Herbert – 5-10, 190, 2 stars, Heritage High, Plantation, Florida — Herbert trained with former KU standout Tony Sands during his prep career. He committed to KU on his fifth and final official visit in January and picked the Jayhawks over offers Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Fordham, Georgia State and Mississippi State.

DT Isi Holani – 6-3, 300, 3 stars Riverside (California) C.C. – Kansas filled a need by adding the three-star juco defensive tackle shortly after the 2015 season ended. Holani also had offers from Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Boise State and others. Signed with KU in December and is already on campus.

OL Chris Hughes – 6-5, 260, 3 stars, Harker Heights (Texas) High — After spending a recruiting weekend in Lawrence in October of his senior year, Hughes cited the impressions David Beaty and Zach Yenser made on him as reason for committing to KU. Picked the Jayhawks over Cal, Houston, Texas Tech and Utah State, among others.

LB Maciah Long – 6-2, 240, 3 stars, North Shore High, Houston, Texas — Long is one of the top talents in the class and his size, speed and athleticism translate well on both sides of the ball. Brings great confidence and leadership to a thin position and picked KU over offers from Arizona State, Houston, Missouri, Ohio State, SMU, Texas Tech and UCLA.

CB Kyle Mayberry – 5-11, 163, 3 stars, Booker T. Washington High, Tulsa, Oklahoma — One of the top defensive backs in Oklahoma, Mayberry consulted former KU star Chris Harris before deciding to join Kansas football instead of pursuing offers from the likes of Kansas State, Houston, Washington State and others.

DB Ian Peterson – 5-11, 180, 2 stars, Cedar Ridge High, Round Rock, Texas — KU defensive backs coach Kenny Perry’s reputation helped land the versatile corner. Peterson committed to Kansas without making a visit and chose the Jayhawks over offers from Colorado, Wisconsin, SMU and others.

DB Stephan Robinson – 5-11, 173, 2 stars, Northeast Oklahoma A&M J.C. – Former wide receiver figures to have a future on KU’s defense. He’ll have three seasons of eligibility remaining as a Jayhawk after considering Virginia Tech, Iowa State and other programs. Signed with KU in December and is already on campus.

QB Tyriek Starks – 6-2, 188, 2 stars, Warren Easton High, New Orleans — Dual-threat QB who threw for 4,000+ yards and rushed for 1,000 more while leading his team to the state semis picked KU over Georgia Southern and Tulane.

S Bryce Torneden – 5-10, 185, 2 stars, Free State High, Lawrence, Kansas — Former North Dakota State commitment was one of the Sunflower League's most dynamic players during the past couple of seasons and a key component to the recent success enjoyed by the Firebirds. He said getting a chance to play in the Big 12 under another Lawrence native in KU defensive coordinator Clint Bowen was too appealing to pass up.

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Former Jayhawk Darrell Stuckey lands on prestigious list

Current San Diego Charger and former Kansas great Darrell Stuckey recently was named San Diego's nominee for the 2015 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award.

Current San Diego Charger and former Kansas great Darrell Stuckey recently was named San Diego's nominee for the 2015 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award. by Matt Tait

The NFL finally has caught up with what fans of Kansas football have known for years — Darrell Stuckey is one hell of a guy.

Stuckey, the sixth-year NFL pro and 2010 KU graduate who starred in KU's secondary and helped the Jayhawks win the 2008 Orange Bowl, recently was named the San Diego Chargers' representative for this year's Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.

Each year, one player from all 32 NFL teams is nominated and this year the Chargers made Stuckey their selection.

Recognition and praise for his efforts beyond football certainly is nothing new for Stuckey. Since high school, the Kansas City, Kansas, native has done his part to give back to his community with particular interest paid to helping children and religion.

In 2010, Stuckey was named the Big 12 Sportsman of the Year for the 2009-10 seasons.

In addition to participating in numerous community outreach programs like visits to children's hospitals and free football clinics, Stuckey also started an organization known as "Living4One," an organization that aims to "help people discover that they were created to influence the world in a positive way" through living for Jesus."

Being nominated for an award as prestigious as the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award, however, takes things to a new level even for Stuckey.

Established in 1970 and attached to the late Chicago Bears running back's name since 1999, The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award is given annually by the NFL to honor a player's volunteer and charity work as well as his excellence on the field.

Each of the 32 team nominees receives a $5,000 donation to their charity of choice. The two runner-ups will receive an additional $6,000 donation, and the winner will receive an additional $50,000 donation. Donations will be courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.

"Serving their communities and philanthropic causes is a strong and long-standing tradition of NFL players," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a release. "These outstanding young men embrace and represent that important commitment of giving back to our communities. We salute and thank our players for their leadership."

Stuckey has chosen the organization "Teammates for Kids," founded by country star Garth Brooks, as his charity.

"The organization doesn't limit itself to helping one specific charity but branching out to help as many as possible," Stuckey said in a Chargers promotional video. "I've been involved with that cause, off and on, for the last three or four years and it's been an awesome opportunity."

Fans interested in helping Stuckey reach the finals can simply use the hashtag ‪#‎StuckeyWPMOYChallenge‬ on social media sites.

Finalists will be announced in January and the winner will be announced during the fifth Annual NFL Honors awards show, a two-hour primetime special airing nationally on Feb. 6, the night before Super Bowl 50 on CBS.

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Richt to Kansas? You must be out of your minds

Kansas head coach David Beaty gives quarterback Ryan Willis a pat after a three and out during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015 at T. Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla.

Kansas head coach David Beaty gives quarterback Ryan Willis a pat after a three and out during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015 at T. Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla. by Nick Krug

It's probably just a small number of people out there on Twitter, and I realize that social media sites can be dangerous places to do any kind of real research.

But I'm going to head down that path anyway because I just don't get it.

During the past 24 hours I've seen more than a few dozen KU fans — I think they are, anyway — jump on Twitter and various message boards claiming that KU absolutely should go after former Georgia head coach Mark Richt, who was fired by the Bulldogs this weekend after a 9-3 season that looked much better on paper than it actually was. Georgia beat just one FBS team with a winning record all season and, once again, fell short of the enormous expectations people have for that program.

So Richt, the 55-year-old veteran head coach who compiled an overall record of 145-51 in 15 seasons, including SEC championships in 2002 and 2005 and runner-up trophies three other times, is out of a job and UGA is moving on.

That doesn't mean KU should be.

Whether you're a David Beaty believer or you think he's the latest in a long line of KU coaches who will go down having got his shot and failed, the one thing I think all supporters and followers of KU football can agree on is that this program is in no position to continue changing head coaches.

What in the world about fielding five head coaches in the past eight seasons sounds so appealing that you'd want to make it six in nine?

As long as he shows progress, for better or worse, Beaty is going to and should get the length of his five-year contract. Giving him — or anyone — that kind of time is the only way to really see if something of substance can be built here. And it's the only way to find out, yet again, if, when something substantial is built, it can be sustained for any real length of time.

So while Richt, who would be a fine choice to lead any program, will go on to find another job, there's no reason for anyone around here to think that it will or even should be at Kansas.

For the first time in a long time, it can be said with certainty that KU has its head coach and he's a guy an overwhelming majority of the fan base has gotten behind.

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The Day After: So close vs. TCU

KU coach David Beaty tries to get his team's attention in the Jayhawks' 23-17 loss to TCU on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Fort Worth, Texas.

KU coach David Beaty tries to get his team's attention in the Jayhawks' 23-17 loss to TCU on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Fort Worth, Texas. by Richard Gwin

There's just something about Kansas and TCU on the football field that tends to create entertaining and competitive games.

But who would've thought that would be the case this year, when the winless Jayhawks traveled to No. 13 TCU on Saturday?

Not me. I picked a TCU blowout, both because of the strength of that TCU offense and the fact that KU was on the road. But the Jayhawks played what was without question their best defensive game of the season — even when Trevone Boykin was in the game — and almost did enough offensively to pull off the upset.

Quick takeaway

KU's latest loss, a 23-17 setback at TCU, provided Kansas fans, players and coaches with plenty of reasons to be encouraged, excited, optimistic and hopeful. And this team should feel good about its most recent effort. But the bottom line remains the same — KU is still making too many mistakes to expect to win games. From false starts and other silly penalties to not converting at key times and struggling to score points, David Beaty's team continues to shoot itself in the foot too often and that's costing them a chance to both be in and win games.

Three reasons to smile

1 – The defense looked sensational and played with a ton of fire, passion and toughness. Credit defensive coordinator Clint Bowen for coming up with another solid game plan against the Horned Frogs and credit the KU players for executing that game plan and not giving a damn about who they were playing, what the records of the teams were or where the game was played. This kind of defensive effort in the next two games could make things very interesting.

KU junior Fish Smithson (9) wraps up TCU's Aaron Green (22) for a loss in the Jayhawks' 23-17 loss to TCU on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Fort Worth, Texas.

KU junior Fish Smithson (9) wraps up TCU's Aaron Green (22) for a loss in the Jayhawks' 23-17 loss to TCU on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Fort Worth, Texas. by Richard Gwin

2 – Led by Ben Goodman, KU's much-maligned defensive line was darn good in this one. There was a reason linebackers Marcquis Roberts and Joe Dineen made so many tackles in this one — because the D-Line got good push and allowed those guys to clean up the mess. But KU's D-Line was not just in a complementary role. Goodman, Corey King, Damani Mosby, Dorance Armstrong and Anthony Olobia also made a bunch of tackles. KU's defense finished with three sacks and eight tackles for loss.

Kansas' Ryan Schadler (33) tries to take down TCU's KaVontae Turpin in the Jayhawks' 23-17 loss to TCU on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kansas' Ryan Schadler (33) tries to take down TCU's KaVontae Turpin in the Jayhawks' 23-17 loss to TCU on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Fort Worth, Texas. by Richard Gwin

3 – Kansas did a good job on dynamic freshman KaVontae Turpin. In fact, had it not been for Turpin's 49-yard punt return for a TD that got the scoring started, KU would have received an A-plus here. Turpin finished with just 21 yards on four receptions and -8 yards on the three other punts he got his hands on. He also carried once for seven yards, but, for the most part, KU did a great job of keeping him from hurting them.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – Wanted: More points. Sure, KU is dealing with a bunch of young guys playing on the offensive side of the ball, but this was the 10th week of the season and the excuses about youth don't carry as much weight. Bottom line: This team is not going to win any time soon if it can't find a way to put up more points. I really thought we'd see more razzle-dazzle out of this offense than we have and it looks like the offensive line's inconsistent play has taken a portion of the playbook out of the equation. After outgaining TCU in the first half, Kansas had just 18 yards of offense on nine plays — three three-and-outs — in the third quarter.

KU senior Tre' Parmalee (11) gets set for a handoff from quarterback Ryan Willis in the Jayhawks' 23-17 loss to TCU on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Fort Worth, Texas.

KU senior Tre' Parmalee (11) gets set for a handoff from quarterback Ryan Willis in the Jayhawks' 23-17 loss to TCU on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Fort Worth, Texas. by Richard Gwin

2 – This is pretty specific, but it was a perfect indication of exactly what's keeping this team from breaking through. Early in the game, with Kansas driving into TCU territory, the Jayhawks faced a fourth-and-seven and, believe it or not, head coach David Beaty called to go for it. Before the fourth-down snap, however, Jacob Bragg was called for a false start. That turned a manageable fourth-and-seven into a fourth-and-12, yet Beaty waved to his offense and said go for it anyway. It seemed as if the same play they called to gain seven yards was available to gain 12. One problem. Before the fourth-down snap could come a second time, right tackle Larry Holmes was whistled for a false start, as well. That turned it into a fourth-and-17 and forced Beaty's hand. The punt team trotted onto the field and an opportunity was lost.

Kansas QB Ryan Willis (13) gets sacked by TCU's Davion Pierson in the Jayhawks' 23-17 loss to TCU on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kansas QB Ryan Willis (13) gets sacked by TCU's Davion Pierson in the Jayhawks' 23-17 loss to TCU on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Fort Worth, Texas. by Richard Gwin

3 – Freshman QB Ryan Willis took another beating. Already playing at less than 100 percent, Willis was beat up in this one and that significantly impacted his effectiveness. Last week, we talked about giving Willis major credit for his toughness. And that still applies. But at some point KU is going to have to do a better job of keeping him clean or else the exciting young quarterback is not going to be able to finish the season.

One for the road

KU's close call at TCU...

• Dropped Kansas’ all-time record dropped to 579-608-58.

• Meant the Jayhawks now have lost 38-straight games played outside of Lawrence. Kansas has also lost 32 straight league games away from Lawrence. A Kansas team hasn’t won a true conference road game in 28 tries. The last Big 12 road win occurred Oct. 4, 2008, in Ames, Iowa.

• Made Kansas 0 for its last 24 against opponents ranked in the top 25. The last time KU won a game against a Top-25 team, the Jayhawks defeated No. 15 Georgia Tech on Sept. 11, 2010. The last time KU beat a Top 25 opponent in a true road contest occurred on Oct. 6, 2007, when the Jayhawks beat No. 24 Kansas State 30-24 in Manhattan.

• Featured the first time in the David Beaty era that the Jayhawks were tied with an opponent after the first 30 minutes. In fact, the last time a Kansas team didn’t trail at halftime was in 2014 when the Jayhawks held a 13-10 lead against TCU in Lawrence.

Next up

KU will return home to Memorial Stadium to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, before closing the 2015 season with a home game on Nov. 28 against Kansas State.

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The Day After: Beat in the Heart of Texas

Kansas head coach David Beaty and the Jayhawk bench react to a missed field goal with seconds remaining in the second quarter on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin, Texas.

Kansas head coach David Beaty and the Jayhawk bench react to a missed field goal with seconds remaining in the second quarter on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

The scoreboard shows another beating suffered by the overmatched and outmanned Kansas University football team. But those who witnessed Saturday's 59-20 loss at Texas — including the 90,000 UT fans in attendance — know that things got pretty intense there for the Longhorns in the second quarter.

After racing out to a 17-0 lead, UT hit cruise control and KU hit back. Had it not been for a couple of bad mistakes and two empty trips that ended inside the Texas 10 yard line, Kansas might have been winning at halftime.

Had that been the case, I talked to plenty of Texas media folks who said the Longhorns very well might have folded. And wouldn't THAT have been interesting.

As it turned out, KU fell short, made far too many mistakes and the Longhorns easily ran away from the Jayhawks with a strong second half.

Quick takeaway

KU continues to stay the course. And, at this point, it's really all they can do. The players prepare hard and play harder. Head coach David Beaty has stayed consistent with regard to the expectations in the program and the opponents, like Texas did Saturday, have continued to find areas to exploit the Kansas defense and make life tough for the young KU offense. Many wondered if KU's match-up with the Longhorns would give the Jayhawks a better chance to compete, given the fact that UT did not feature one of those nasty, break-neck offenses like Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. And, for a little more than a half, compete they did. Maybe that gives reasonable cause for KU backers to think the same thing can happen against West Virginia and K-State. Then again, maybe not.

Three reasons to smile

1 – It's worth something to point out that the KU defense did respond to that awful start. For a group that has been brutalized most of the season, it would've been real easy for those guys to lay down after Texas got up 17-0. But they didn't. They stayed strong against the run, got good pressure on UT QB Jerrod Heard and forced a huge turnover, all of which gave the offense time to crawl back into the game. The D wore down severely in the second half, but that first-half bounce-back is notable.

Kansas special teams player Taylor Cox wraps up Texas kick returner Kris Boyd (2) during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin, Texas.

Kansas special teams player Taylor Cox wraps up Texas kick returner Kris Boyd (2) during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

2 – Forget about Ryan Willis' skills and ability to throw the football. It's time we applaud the young man for his toughness. Willis, making his fifth consecutive start, took big hit after big hit and kept getting up. Beaty pointed out after the loss that a lot of the punishment was Willis' fault, but he also said he admired the heck out of the young man's toughness. It's that kind of showing, especially from a quarterback, that can get a whole team playing harder.

Kansas quarterback Ryan Willis (13) signals a first down next to Texas safety Jason Hall (31) during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin, Texas.

Kansas quarterback Ryan Willis (13) signals a first down next to Texas safety Jason Hall (31) during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

3 – It's debatable whether this is good news or bad, but I'm going to side with good news because of the message it sends. Wideouts Tre' Parmalee and Steven Sims Jr., were suspended for this game and did not travel to Austin after violating a team rule. Beaty did not disclose the violation and, from the sound of things, it was pretty minor. But the first-year KU coach realizes that when you're in Year 1 of a major rebuilding project, nothing can be considered minor and he clearly is willing to take advantage of every opportunity to send a message, prove a point and make it clear what is expected of the players in this program.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – I'm sure he's a great dude but I think we've reached the point where David Beaty can't trot place kicker Nick Bartolotta onto the field any more. The missed 26-yard field goal was a devastating blow to this team's momentum and chances on Saturday and Bartolotta, after starting the season strong, has been woeful for the past several games. His confidence appears shot and even though it's a lot to put on Matthew Wyman, he's the guy that should be handling all of KU's kicking duties right now.

2 – Texas did not enter the game known as a passing team, but the UT coaching staff clearly saw enough holes in KU's secondary on film to design their game plan around exploiting the Jayhawks' pass D. It worked. Both Texas QBs who played hit the KU defense with big passes and the KU cornerbacks struggled to both stay on top of UT's wide receivers in coverage and to offer much help in the running game.

Texas wide receiver Lorenzo Joe (5) catches a deep pass beyond Kansas cornerback Marnez Ogletree (25) during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin, Texas.

Texas wide receiver Lorenzo Joe (5) catches a deep pass beyond Kansas cornerback Marnez Ogletree (25) during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

3 – With Sims and Parmalee sitting in Lawrence, the Jayhawks needed a couple of wide receivers to step up. No one really did. Darious Crawley led the team with 63 yards and a TD on three catches, but the touchdown catch, a 19-yarder, came with 1:07 to play. Parmalee has been by far KU's most reliable receiver this season and Sims also has stood out as one of the top options. Without them, the KU passing game struggled. Tight end Kent Taylor was more involved — and should be the rest of the way — but KU's version of the Air Raid offense is far less potent with Parmalee and Sims sitting in street clothes.

One for the road

KU's loss at Texas on Saturday night:

•Kansas’ all-time record dropped to 579-607-58.

•The Jayhawks have lost 37-straight games played outside of Lawrence, the last win occurring Sept. 12, 2009 at UTEP. Kansas has also lost 31-straight league games away from Lawrence. A Kansas team hasn’t won a true conference road game in 28 tries. The last occurred Oct. 4, 2008, a 35-33, win in Ames, Iowa.

•After a rushing touchdown with 8:49 to play in the second quarter, bringing the score to, 24-14, in favor of Texas, Kansas tied its season-high for points scored in the first half of a game. The Jayhawks also scored 14 points against South Dakota State in the season opener.

•KU’s 236 yards of total offense, compared to Texas’ 190, marked the first time Kansas out gained an opponent in the opening half of play since putting up 333 yards and allowing Iowa State just 89 yards in the opening 30 minutes in 2014.

•KU’s four fumbles in the first half were the most in an opening period since putting the ball on the ground a total of five times against Texas A&M in the first portion of the game in 2011.

Next up

Falling under the category of awful timing, the way KU's meeting with Oklahoma came one week after OU lost to Texas, the Jayhawks next week will have to travel to TCU to take on the Horned Frogs who likely just saw their national title and Trevone Boykin's Heisman Trophy hopes go out the window with a loss at Oklahoma State.

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Official explains non-call of Texas player going out of bounds before recovering muffed punt

Kansas head coach David Beaty argues with officials during the second quarter on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin, Texas.

Kansas head coach David Beaty argues with officials during the second quarter on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

Before leaving Austin, Texas, I spoke with one of the Big 12 officials who worked Saturday's KU-Texas game to see if I could get a clarification on the situation surrounding the punt that was muffed by Derrick Neal in the first half of KU's 59-20 loss.

The ruling on the field was that Neal touched the ball and a Texas player recovered it at the KU 17. Replay during the game confirmed as much — according to the official, the camera angle showed Neal's fingers bend back after making contact with the ball — but KU coach David Beaty continued to have discussions with the referees for several minutes after the replay confirmation.

Beaty said after the game that he was arguing that the UT player who recovered the ball "clearly went out of bounds" and was the first one to touch it after returning to the field of play. By rule, that would be deemed illegal touching and possession would be given to Kansas.

The official this morning told me that the refs on the field missed the call during live action and that replay could not get involved after the fact. It falls in the same category as a play in which a team challenges the spot of the football and on replay officials see a facemask penalty. Because the penalty was missed on the field — and penalties are not reviewable — the infraction cannot be flagged after being discovered by replay.

In short, the missed call on the field cost Kansas because the rules were on the Jayhawks' side.

These things happen, though, and the officials had nothing to do with Neal's poor decision and inability to execute the fielding of the punt.

The official, who said he was impressed with how hard the Jayhawks played, added that Beaty was very calm and respectful during his discussions and "asked his questions in the right way."

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Goalpost stunt unfairly makes KU, KU football look foolish

The first thing I saw when I woke up Monday morning was a text from a friend informing me that someone had quite literally broken into Memorial Stadium, torn the goalpost down in the south end zone and dumped the broken metal in Potter Lake, as is the custom when the KU football team pulls off a victory that sets off a rockin' celebration.

I get the whole kids-will-be-kids narrative and the lighten-up-what's-wrong-with-having-a-little-fun mindset. But I gotta tell ya: The whole schtick did not sit right with me from Minute 1.

I'm not going to judge you or even call you crazy if you choose to applaud the way a few dozen fans — whether they're Royals fans, KU fans, both or neither remains unknown — celebrated Kansas City's first major sports title in 30 years.

But can we at least agree on one thing? You have to admit it looks a little foolish.

None by Anna Del Slay

I mean, did supporters of Stanford tear into the school's football stadium and do more than $10,000 worth of damage to celebrate the Golden State Warriors NBA title last summer?

Did anybody hear about a bunch of UMass students breaking into the gymnasium and cutting down the nets last winter when the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl?

Of course not. And if they had, it would have made each of those schools look stupid the way this made KU look lame.

And that's to say nothing of the automatic and unnecessary shots that people across the country since have fired at KU football over this whole mess. What do those guys do? All they're trying to do is find a way to climb out from underneath one hell of a mess created by the past two football coaches and going about it rather quietly and respectably.

Kansas football has got enough problems without the rest of the country being given a gift-wrapped reason to make fun of the struggling program.

Workers repair the south goal posts at Kansas University's Memorial Stadium on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. KU Public Safety said nearly $10,000 in damage was done to the goal posts and a stadium gate after the Royals won the World Series Sunday night.

Workers repair the south goal posts at Kansas University's Memorial Stadium on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. KU Public Safety said nearly $10,000 in damage was done to the goal posts and a stadium gate after the Royals won the World Series Sunday night. by Nick Krug

Look, I'm not so old that I can't remember what it was like to be a kid, to celebrate with wild abandon or even to do dumb things that I now look back on and scratch my head about. I'm not sure you ever actually get old enough to lose sight of those things. But you do grow up. And I'm pretty sure I never thought it would be OK to represent my school or town by damaging property, trespassing and putting myself and a bunch of others in harm's way while celebrating the accomplishments of a team in another city.

Huh?

Sure, a huge chunk of KU's enrollment is made up of Kansas City kids. And good for them. Whether they've been pulling for the Royals since their mothers and fathers first introduced them to baseball at age 5 or just jumped on the bandwagon and only have been Royals fans for the past 18 months, their team winning the World Series is good reason for a great celebration.

And to the credit of hundreds of KU students and Lawrence residents, celebrate is what they did. Downtown, with chants and screams, high-fives and hugs. Not vandalism. Thousands more did the same thing across Kansas City.

So to let the action of a few hardcore party people — many of whom might actually be decent people — ruin what otherwise was a pretty cool scene, would be unfair. That's not what this is. Instead, this is the voice of logic and reason, something that was clearly missing when these guys and gals blew their own minds by deciding to wreck Memorial Stadium because a baseball team from a city 40 miles away won the World Series.

Huh?

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The Day After: Overwhelmed by Oklahoma

Oklahoma wide receiver Durron Neal (5) pulls in a touchdown catch before Kansas safety Michael Glatczak (39) during the first quarter Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015 at Memorial Stadium.

Oklahoma wide receiver Durron Neal (5) pulls in a touchdown catch before Kansas safety Michael Glatczak (39) during the first quarter Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

It was another rough day for the overmatched Kansas football team, which was drubbed, on Homecoming weekend no less, 62-7 by an Oklahoma team that probably could have scored a lot more.

OU's Baker Mayfield and Sterling Shepard did all kinds of damage through the air and the three-headed monster of Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon and Alex Ross bullied the Jayhawks on the ground.

Saturday's 52-point spread was the second worst of the season, trailing only Baylor's 66-7 beating earlier this year.

Quick takeaway

At this point, we're kind of facing the old it-is-what-it-is deal with this football team. The Jayhawks are overmatched every week and despite preparing hard and playing to the final whistle, there really isn't much you can point to that, if done right or better, would make that much of a difference. Of course this team still wants to get a win this season. And, yeah, three of KU's final four opponents combine to be four games under .500. So maybe there is an outside shot at finding a little hope. But I wouldn't bet on it. This season has taken on the feel of one that KU will close out with the goal being to get as many young guys as much positive experience as they can get so there's at least some reason for optimism heading into 2016.

Three reasons to smile

1 – Matthew Wyman continues to make a difference in the punting game and appears to have solved KU's issues there. Beaty said the kicking game was one of the few highlights from Saturday and Wyman's 42.8-yard average, with two downed inside the OU 20, has definitely made a noticeable difference for this team. If nothing else, it's at least forcing KU opponents to have to put together longer drives to pile up the points.

Members of the Kansas defense including Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr. (46) bring down Oklahoma wide receiver Durron Neal (5) during the second quarter Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015 at Memorial Stadium.

Members of the Kansas defense including Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr. (46) bring down Oklahoma wide receiver Durron Neal (5) during the second quarter Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

2 – It doesn't matter much on the scoreboard or in the stats, but it's pretty impressive to watch these guys never get down. Now, I'm not saying that the Jayhawks enjoy these beatings, but you really don't see guys hanging their heads or sulking on the sideline any longer. They stay up and they keep playing. That's not easy. And they should be applauded for that if nothing else.

Kansas University students Donte Walters, Kansas City, Kan. freshman, left, and Donovan Miller, Minneapolis, Minn. sophomore, sing the Alma Mater prior to kickoff on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas University students Donte Walters, Kansas City, Kan. freshman, left, and Donovan Miller, Minneapolis, Minn. sophomore, sing the Alma Mater prior to kickoff on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

3 – Let's be honest. It was Halloween and I was surprised there were as many people there as there were. With that in mind, KU made sure everyone got out of there in plenty of time to get ready for Halloween and trick-or-treating. Can you imagine the conflict if this game had gone down to the wire?

Three reasons to sigh

1 – Oklahoma was not forced to punt one time during Saturday's victory over Kansas, and the defense that, just a couple of weeks ago appeared to be making significant strides, struggled big-time against a pretty dominant offense.

With the game well out of hand Kansas head coach David Beaty looks at the video board during the fourth quarter, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015 at Memorial Stadium.

With the game well out of hand Kansas head coach David Beaty looks at the video board during the fourth quarter, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

2 – In-game coaching issues still seem to be popping up at a regular rate. Whether you're talking about strange timeouts, slow adjustments or general uncertainty, it still seems that this group of players and coaches working together for the first time are figuring things out on the fly a little bit. That's to be expected in the first year of a new coaching regime, but it makes for a few head scratchers.

Kansas running back Taylor Cox (36) and his blocker tight end Ben Johnson (84) are stopped by a wall of Oklahoma defenders on a run during the third quarter, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Taylor Cox (36) and his blocker tight end Ben Johnson (84) are stopped by a wall of Oklahoma defenders on a run during the third quarter, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

3 – KU's running game continues to struggle big time. In this one, Kansas managed just 35 yards on 36 carries. Seniors De'Andre Mann and Taylor Cox run hard when they get the ball and usually gain every yard available. That's the problem. There just isn't much there. Instead of getting better, it seems to be getting worse. But KU has faced two of the Big 12's best defenses during the past couple of weeks. So maybe there's hope that the tough sledding the Jayhawks have experienced in the past couple of weeks will lighten up in the final month of the season.

One for the road

KU's 55-point loss to the Sooners on Saturday:

• Dropped KU's all-time record to 579-606-58.

• Prolonged a streak of 21-straight losses to ranked opponents and extended a streak of 10-consecutive losses to a top-25 opponent in Memorial Stadium.

• Featured Kansas starting five true freshman on offense against the Sooners. The total number of freshmen who started offensively can be increased to six with the addition of red-shirt frosh Jacob Bragg.

• Pushed OU's all-time edge in the series to 73-27-6 and 35-15-4 in Lawrence. In the Big 12 Conference era, the Sooners hold a 21-1 advantage (6-1 in Lawrence). KU’s two Big 12 wins over OU came in 1996 and 1997, the first two years of the league. OU is now 6-0 on the road against the Jayhawks under Bob Stoops.

Next up

Kansas heads south to Austin, Texas, to take on 3-5 Texas at 7 p.m. Saturday. After back-to-back wins over OU and K-State seemed to right the ship, the Longhorns were blanked by Iowa State on Saturday, 24-0, in Ames, Iowa.

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