Posts tagged with Ku Football

What caught my eye at Day 2 of KU football’s 2015 Spring practices

D-Line coach Calvin Thibodeaux runs his guys through a drill at Thursday's practice.

D-Line coach Calvin Thibodeaux runs his guys through a drill at Thursday's practice. by Matt Tait

Day 2 of KU Football's spring practices brought more of the same elements that we saw on Day 1 on Tuesday — lots of energy, impressive tempo and fiery coaches getting after guys in both good moments and bad.

By far, though, the most memorable aspect of the day came during one-on-one drills between receivers and defensive backs, when co-defensive coordinator Kenny Perry, who was hanging out in the middle of the field where a referee normally be, intercepted a pass and began to return it up the field after the catch.

Perry initially bobbled the ball but hauled it in and then turned it up field without hesitation. It was a big moment for the former TCU assistant, who had been all over his DBs to “make a play.” After seeing him do it, they had very little excuse for not making similar plays happen themselves.

Later in the day, after practice moved over to the stadium for 7-on-7 and full team offensive drills, Ronnie Davis and Tevin Shaw each followed in Perry's footsteps by picking up an interception during live action.

Here's a quick look at the rest of what caught my eye from Thursday's practice...

• Other than special teams drills and full team activities, Perry spent his time working with the cornerbacks and defensive coordinator Clint Bowen, who has coached just about every position during his days with the Jayhawks, spent his time working with the safeties. This set up was what most people expected and I think it takes advantage of each guy's area of expertise. Both guys are fired up throughout practice and don't give their guys even a moment to breathe. The expectation is perfection and if a guy missteps or isn't doing something right, he's going to hear about it.

Co-defensive coordinator Kenny Perry works with KU's cornerbacks during a recent practice.

Co-defensive coordinator Kenny Perry works with KU's cornerbacks during a recent practice. by Matt Tait

• One of the more enjoyable things to watch during the first couple of days has been wide receivers coach Klint Kubiak's hands-on approach to coaching. Kubiak, 27, is young enough to get out there and run with his guys and he's not afraid to show them how to stick a route, how to break press coverage or how to get off the line and down the field during punt coverage drills. Huge asset for the program. You can just tell that this guy is well on his way to being a hell of a coach and I'm definitely looking more to seeing more in the coming weeks, months and years.

• Speaking of guys who are on their way to becoming great coaches, I think D-Line coach Calvin Thibodeaux is another one. He's full of energy, doesn't take or make any excuses and gets his guys to flat-out work. One of his favorite tools to inspire that great work ethic seems to be sarcasm. I heard, on more than one occasion, Thibodeaux laughing to himself and telling his guys, “Don't be last in line now, son.”

• With several former Jayhawks still in town following pro day, getting ready for the upcoming NFL Draft and free agent opportunities, a few of them showed up to practice again on Thursday. Nick Harwell, Nigel King, Tony Pierson and Charles Brooks all watched at least an hour of practice and I thought it was funny (and made sense) how King and Harwell spent nearly all of their time watching the wide receivers, sort of like the old veterans watching to make sure the torch had been passed properly. There are a bunch of bodies out there at WR for Kansas, but it's still too early to see how talented the group is. Most of them are young dudes still learning the game. Having said that, senior Tre' Parmalee definitely has stood out so far as a guy who has been there and done that. Rodriguez Coleman appears to be the most naturally talented guy in the group. And a walk-on, red-shirt freshman Ryan Schadler, who came to KU after running track at Wichita State, also impressed me with his pure speed. The guy is lightning quick and runs every drill full speed. Still plenty to watch at that position in the coming weeks.

• I didn't really notice this too much because when they're running team offense and seven-on-seven, we're pretty far away, but it caught my ear when Beaty said after practice that the biggest area the Jayhawks improved from Day 1 to Day 2 was in committing fewer penalties, particularly the five-yard false start and offsides penalties. It's just one day, but you'd definitely rather see that kind of rapid improvement than watching it take a week or two to get fixed.

• Speaking of improvement, a guy who looked much better on Day 2 than Day 1 was tight end Kent Taylor. Taylor looked a step slow on Tuesday and dropped a few balls. On Thursday, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound junior looked to be moving much better and caught everything thrown his way. I think the guy has a chance to be a big-time weapon for this offense.

• Practice wrapped with a few different ball security drills. It was probably about 10-15 minutes and guys rotated through different stations that emphasized taking care of the football. Before spring drills began, Beaty said this would be a big emphasis for the team so it would be a safe bet to predict that every practice will end this way.

• The Jayhawks are off on Friday and will return to the practice fields for Practice No. 3 on Saturday morning. That practice will be the first in pads and, as you might expect, Beaty said he and the coaching staff were looking forward to seeing what some of these guys can do in full pads.

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What caught my eye at Day 1 of KU football’s 2015 Spring practice

The Jayhawks work on bursting through during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

The Jayhawks work on bursting through during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. by Nick Krug

Tuesday marked the third time I've seen a new coaching staff kick off spring practices with the KU football program and the one thing that stood out above all else was that there was very little about Tuesday that looked a spring practice at all.

The coaches and players operated with urgency, energy and intensity and reacted to mistakes with much more fire than an aw-shucks, oh-well attitude.

A big part of that likely came from the fact that everything is up for grabs on this team. The coaches and players are in the process of learning about one another and proving things to each other and each guy wearing a helmet is competing for a job he likely truly believes he can win.

That reality can only help the Jayhawks in their latest rebuilding process but also serves as a reminder that there's a long way to go.

With that in mind, here's a quick look at a few things that caught my eye from Day 1 of spring drills.

• Several former Jayhawks, many in town to go through Wednesday's pro timing day in from of NFL scouts, were on hand to watch the early portion of Tuesday's practice. The guys I saw included: Jake Heaps, JaCorey Shepherd, Keon Stowers, Nigel King, Nick Harwell, Trevor Pardula, Tedarian Johnson, Pat Lewandowski and one or two others. Pretty cool to see those guys show up to support their former teammates and the future of the program.

• KU coach David Beaty jumped right into the thick of all kinds of drills during Tuesday's practice and was all over the field. He seemed most fired up during the special teams drills — which he deems incredibly important — and even said after practice that it was tough for him to not be able to fully dive into the drills the way he could as a position coach.

• Beaty said not to read too much into which guys went out there with the first unit, but also said that those who were out there first were there for a reason. And I couldn't help but pay close attention to what things looked like at offensive line. The first group — at least for Tuesday — included: right tackle Larry Mazyck, right guard Junior Visinia, center Jacob Bragg, left guard Bryan Peters and left tackle Jordan Shelley-Smith. Versatile center/guard Joe Gibson is currently recovering from an injury and could be another guy who factors into the mix along the O-Line before it's all said and done.

Kansas offensive lineman Junior Visinia (75) and Jacob Bragg (55) take off as the ball is snapped to quarterback Michael Cummings during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

Kansas offensive lineman Junior Visinia (75) and Jacob Bragg (55) take off as the ball is snapped to quarterback Michael Cummings during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. by Nick Krug

• Speaking of Jacob Bragg, the red-shirt freshman center looks pretty thick and put together. Several guys looked bigger than I remember (safety Fish Smithson was another who looked noticeably bigger), something that Beaty said was the product of the work strength coach Je'Ney Jackson and his staff had done with the physical make up of this team. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I thought juco transfer Ke'aun Kinner looked thinner than I expected, but also blazing fast. Josh Ehambe (a monster) and Bazie Bates IV (a newcomer who's clearly ready to play) also caught my eye in terms of physical size.

• Several coaches really emphasized the pace and tempo of practice throughout the day with subtle but pointed instructions that included, “Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry,” (O-Line coach Zach Yenser), Don't walk, don't walk,” (Yenser) and “I like that tempo,” (Special teams coach Gary Hyman). They weren't the only ones to talk about tempo, but they were two of the loudest.

• Speaking of the coaches, I thought it was interesting that Hyman, Yenser and offensive coordinator Rob Likens all wore head sets during one particular offensive drill. Looking forward to finding out the reason behind that when we talk to one of them.

Kansas co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Kenny Perry grits his teeth as he prepares to give some criticism during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

Kansas co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Kenny Perry grits his teeth as he prepares to give some criticism during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. by Nick Krug

• Cornerbacks coach/co-defensive coordinator Kenny Perry is fiery. I mean, real fiery. And it's pretty awesome to watch. He's not simply content with these guys trying hard. He expects them to pay attention, retain instruction and then execute what's asked. And if they don't, he rips into them. On one particular play, Perry got after cornerback Ronnie Davis after Davis jumped to break up a pass and let the ball hit the turf instead of intercepting it. “Make a play,” Perry screamed. “That's gotta be picked.” The emphasis on turnovers was in line with what Beaty said Monday would be an important part of the spring.

Kansas quarterbacks Michael Cummings and Montell Cozart listen as they receive direction from offensive coordinator Rob Likens during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

Kansas quarterbacks Michael Cummings and Montell Cozart listen as they receive direction from offensive coordinator Rob Likens during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. by Nick Krug

• There's definitely no hurry on the part of the coaching staff to identify the starting quarterback. Michael Cummings was the first guy to go out there during most offensive drills, followed by Montell Cozart (who looked pretty good with the deep ball) and T.J. Millweard (whose intelligence Beaty marveled at). Those three, along with a few others and the newcomers who arrive in June, will all get a fair shot at winning the job, but I thought it was particularly cool to see how much Cummings and Cozart communicated during Tuesday's practice. Remember, these guys are (a) friends and teammates and (b) trying to learn a new offense at the same time. Good for them for using every resource available to them.

• KU will be off on Wednesday and get back after it on Thursday for practice No. 2 of the 15-practice spring. We'll be there and will bring you plenty more reaction, analysis and information nuggets.

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A dozen Jayhawks I’m eager to watch during spring football

Today marks the opening day of the first spring football season under new KU football coach David Beaty.

And although there's still more than five months ahead for this program to get ready for the 2015 season, a good chunk of the work will begin starting today as the new KU coaches and players begin installing fresh offensive and defensive schemes and putting in the basis of what the program under Beaty will be all about.

There's plenty of time ahead to learn, examine and analyze all of that, but, for now, let's take a quick look at a dozen players I'm most looking forward to seeing this spring.

A lot of them are newcomers — big surprise – but a few of them are names you know and I'm just as eager to see what those guys have done to position themselves for more playing time or bigger roles.

Although spring football does not officially begin until the first practice at 4:20 p.m. today, this we know already — don't expect much in the way of a depth chart at the start of the spring and maybe not even by the end of it.

The coaching staff is not interested in tossing out names of guys they know little about or ramping up expectations for specific players. They're more interested in waiting to see which players develop, which players best fit the new offense and defense and which guys separate themselves by outworking others on a daily basis.

Just because several players did not make this list does not mean I'm not fired up to see what they look like. There are plenty of guys, both proven and unproven, who should be fun to keep an eye on this spring. This group though is likely to be the 12 guys my eyes wander to first when we're out there at practice later today.

Enough build up. Here's the list.

1. Safety Bazie Bates IV — The guy with one of the coolest names on the team is going to play. It's just a matter of how much and where. Athletic dude with good size and speed should stand out quickly as Jayhawks attempt to revamp a secondary that lost four starters from last season.

2. Cornerback Brandon Stewart — One of the most highly sought after players in the incoming class, Stewart has a golden opportunity to step into the starting cornerback vacancy left by the departure of JaCorey Shepherd and Dexter McDonald. The question is how long will it take him to prove himself?

3. Wide Receiver Chase Harrell — I truly cannot wait to see this kid. Good-sized receiver who's supposed to have good hands and ball skills, Harrell, who graduated high school early so he could go through spring ball, has a chance to emerge as an immediate contributor at an unproven position.

4. Defensive Lineman D.J. Williams — Defensive coordinator Clint Bowen mentioned Williams' name late in the 2014 season as one of the guys who red-shirted who he was looking forward to having on the field in 2015. That's good enough for me. KU lost a lot up front on defense so Williams' development will be crucial.

5. Quarterback Montell Cozart — Michael Cummings may very well start out as the favorite to win the quarterback job and incoming freshmen Carter Stanley and Ryan Willis might have something to say about the battle when they arrive in the summer. But there's just something that still intrigues me about Cozart. We already know he's got the athleticism and a little bit of experience. The reason I'm looking forward to seeing him is because I want to see if he took the necessary steps toward becoming a true QB and not just an athlete trying to play the position. How Cozart fits into this new offense ranks as one of the most intriguing questions surrounding this team.

6. Offensive Lineman Jordan Shelley-Smith — The last time I saw Shelley-Smith he was well on his way to transforming from a tight end to an offensive linemen. I'm guessing that transformation has reached the point where he'll almost be unrecognizable, which would be a good thing for Kansas because the Jayhawks likely will need the athletic yet equally physical Shelley-Smith to be ready to play right — maybe even left — tackle this fall.

7. Running Back Taylor Cox — This one's more of a sentimental pick. The guy has been through two seasons worth of injuries but is still out there grinding away hoping for one last chance to help his team. That's a cool story in itself, but add to that the fact that Cox is a fantastic young man and you're looking at a guy you can't help but pull for.

8. Tight End Kent Taylor — Freak athlete who could go a long way toward helping fill the void left by the departure of nearly all of KU's impact pass catchers from 2014. Gone are Nigel King, Nick Harwell, Jimmay Mundine and Tony Pierson. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound junior who transferred to KU from Florida and sat out the 2014 season could be an option to fill in at whichever one of those positions needs him the most.

9. Offensive Lineman De'Andre Banks — I've heard nothing but good things about this guy's power, size and versatility. Who knows if he'll be ready to play right away or not, but if he is, O-Line coach Zach Yenser and offensive coordinator Rob Likens surely will view the fact that he can play multiple positions as a huge luxury and a big break.

10. Defensive End Anthony Olobia — Former junior college stud came in with some serious hype last season but arrived late and then got injured. Did the year off provide even more motivation for the No. 2 ranked juco player at his position in the Class of 2014?

11. Offensive Lineman Jacob Bragg — Another guy who Bowen mentioned as a potential breakout player who red-shirted in 2014, the highly-touted center, if he's ready, could provide a huge lift in helping KU's offensive line take shape sooner rather than later.

12. Defensive End Damani Mosby — Like Olobia, Mosby was one of those guys the Jayhawks expected to bolster their pass rush in 2014. However, his late arrival from junior college forced him to red-shirt. With the Jayhawks seeking to replace the terrific season turned in by departed senior Michael Reynolds in 2014, Mosby figures to get a crack at a big role provided he has put in the work during the past seven months.

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Spring dates and other KU football notes

With temperatures warming and March Madness nearly upon us, those in the Kansas University football program have turned their eyes toward upcoming spring practices.

First-year KU coach David Beaty announced earlier this week that the Jayhawks would kick off their 15-practice spring schedule on March 24. Beaty's first spring in charge of the program will wrap up with the April 25 spring game, scheduled for a 1 p.m. kickoff at Memorial Stadium.

Portions of the spring practices will be open to the media and both Beaty and his assistant coaches will be available for interviews. According to the schedule released by KU earlier this week, no players will be made available to the media this spring.

Beaty and the Jayhawks enter the spring will all kinds of questions to answer and holes to fill. Although quarterback Michael Cummings distinguished himself as the better option in 2014, the battle for the starting job in 2015 appears to be an open competition. In addition, KU lost nearly all of its pass catchers and questions remain about the make-up and talent of the offensive line.

Returning running backs Corey Avery, De'Andre Mann and Taylor Cox highlight the known commodities on the KU offense.

Defensively, the Jayhawks will be looking to replace three of the five starters in the secondary along with productive defensive linemen Keon Stowers, Michael Reynolds and Tedarian Johnson, and, of course, all-Big 12 linebacker Ben Heeney.

That leaves both questions and opportunities all over the field for Clint Bowen's defense.

Several KU assistant coaches have taken to Twitter recently to announce their excitement for the upcoming spring drills and the theme of the program, at least for now, seems to be "earn it" as several recent Tweets have been accompanied by the hashtag #earnit.

Shepherd honored again

Falling under the “stop me if you've heard this one” category, former KU cornerback JaCorey Shepherd is in line to collect some more hardware for his off-the-field efforts. Shepherd, a senior from Mesquite, Texas, has been named one of 15 KU Men of Merit for 2015.

According to the release, the group includes “students, faculty and staff positively defining masculinity through challenging norms, taking action and leading by example while making contributions to university and/or the community.”

Shepherd is on schedule to graduate in May with a bachelor's degree in management and leadership with an emphasis in entrepreneurship.

He is a three-time Academic All-Big 12 Second Team honoree and a four-time Athletic Director's Honor Roll member. He recently was named the Lee Roy Selmon Community Spirit Award and Haier Achievement Award winner and was a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award. He took home the Rock Chalk Choice Award for Best Jayhawk in a Supporting Role and was the KU nominee for the 2013-14 Big 12 Conference Male Sportsperson of the Year. Shepherd is also active in the community through Big Brothers, Big Sisters where he has established a relationship with a "little brother" Christopher and at local schools where he volunteers as a reader and at carnivals, field days and football clinics.

A reception celebrating this year's Men of Merit honorees will take place Monday from 5-6:30 p.m. in the Big 12 Room of the Kansas Union.

McDougald inks with Bucs Former KU safety Bradley McDougald, who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2013, has re-signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team announced Wednesday.

McDougald, who became a starter for Tampa Bay toward the end of last season, logged 42 tackles (36 solo) during the final six weeks of 2014. New Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith raved about McDougald down the stretch last season and several outlets who cover the Buccaneers believe McDougald is in position to enter 2015 as the team's starting strong safety.

McDougald is one of four former KU defensive backs making significant contributions for their current NFL teams. Chris Harris and Aqib Talib are starting cornerbacks in Denver and Darrell Stuckey, a back-up safety and special teams captain in San Diego, just earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl.

Powlus back at Notre Dame Former KU quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus, who once starred and later coached at Notre Dame, has returned to his alma mater in an off-the-field role on Brian Kelly's staff.

Powlus, earlier this week, was named the Fighting Irish's director of player development. Before coming to Kansas to work for former KU coach Charlie Weis, Powlus was an assistant at Notre Dame and Akron.

During his playing days at Notre Dame, he set 20 school records from 1994-97.

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Talent in Kansas? Big 12 football programs found plenty

With national signing day now in the rearview mirror, ESPN.com Big 12 blogger Jake Trotter recently scoured the conference's recruiting classes and found that 115 of the 229 players who signed with Big 12 schools this February were from Texas.

Big surprise, right? Of course not. But the state that ranked third on the list just might be.

Kansas, that's right the Sunflower State you all know and love, ranked third in the 2015 class with 13 athletes signing national letters of intent with Big 12 schools this season.

The Jayhawks, who finished with 24 players in their 2015 class, picked up two of those, with three-star Bishop Miege quarterback Ryan Willis and three-star Butler C.C. offensive lineman Will Smith inking with Kansas. Not surprisingly, Kansas State picked up the lion's share of that group, with six of the 20 signed players in K-State's 2015 class coming from Kansas.

All six of those — along with three others who Rivals.com lists as committed but not yet signed — are Kansas high school prospects, including Lawrence's own Scott Frantz, a Free State High offensive lineman, who had offers from Iowa State, Kansas, Miami (Florida), Minnesota, Missouri and Purdue among others.

Outside of those two Big 12 schools, Oklahoma State (3) and Iowa State (2) also plucked a few players out of the Sunflower State, with all five of their signees coming from the Kansas juco scene.

Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Boise State, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee and roughly two dozen other schools also signed Kansas kids, most of those from the juco ranks. The combination of the prominent place in the Big 12 standings along with the attention given to Kansas prospects from conferences around the country only adds clarity to the reason first-year KU coach David Beaty and his staff are striving to make in-state recruits a big-time priority for the future of Kansas football.

"We want to do a good job of keeping the best players in the state of Kansas right here at home at their university. That is top priority for us, and we do that by building relationships not only with them but with their coaches and their parents and the families and the fans. We want to develop a walk-on program because we only get so many scholarships a year, and there's a lot of guys out there in the state of Kansas that want to be a part of their great program, and that walk-on program can be powerful. We want it to be the most powerful walk-on program in the country, and that's a goal of ours. We want to open the doors to more than just 25 a year of the great athletes that there are here in the great state of Kansas. We truly want this to become a Kansas identity football team. We're going to hit the state of Texas, we're going to hit the state of Oklahoma, we're going to hit the state of Missouri, but make no mistake, it'll be a Kansas identity football team." — DAVID BEATY, Dec. 8, 2014

Here's a look at Trotter's per-state break down of recruiting in the Big 12 in 2015:

  1. Texas — 115
  2. Florida – 19
  3. Kansas – 13
  4. Georgia – 11
  5. Louisiana – 11
  6. Oklahoma – 10
  7. California – 8
  8. Mississippi – 6
  9. Maryland – 5
  10. Ohio – 4
  11. Illinois – 3
  12. Iowa – 3
  13. Missouri – 2
  14. New Jersey – 2
  15. Virginia – 2
  16. West Virginia – 2

Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Canada all had one each.

For a complete look at some more interesting recruiting trends in the Big 12 this year, including how the conference's football programs are expanding their recruiting into new territory, check out Trotter's blog.

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Rise & Sign: 2015 KU football class ready to make it official on National Signing Day

New KU QB Carter Stanley rockin' his KU gear on his big day…

New KU QB Carter Stanley rockin' his KU gear on his big day… by Matt Tait

12:29 p.m. Update:

One more comprehensive look at the Class of 2015, with quotes from several KU coaches…

DE Dorance Armstrong – 6-4, 225, 3 stars, North Shore High, Galena Park, Texas – Powerful pass rusher chose Kansas over offers from nine other Power 5 Conference programs, including Cal, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Michigan State and Northwestern.

“Dorance is a young man who we are excited about in terms of what he brings, especially for our needs on our defense. He is a true athletic defensive end with a good pass rush and range. He will be a young man who can have a huge impact on the program once he reaches his full potential.” — Defensive Coordinator Clint Bowen

DB Shola Ayinde – 6-0, 168, 2 stars, George Ranch High, Richmond, Texas – Relatively new to the secondary, former WR chose Kansas after previously having been committed to Tulsa.

“I had him in camp and had him on my radar. He is a great kid and very explosive. I think his upside is years to come. I think he is still learning how to play cornerback and is raw. He is real fast, a 4.4 40-yard dash kid.” — DBs coach Kenny Perry

WR Jeremiah Booker – 6-3, 187, 2 stars, College Station (Texas) High – The College Station connection for David Beaty and Klint Kubiak came through here, as the two-star receiver picked KU over Nevada, New Mexico and interest from Oklahoma State.

“Jeremiah Booker has great size. He runs very well for a 6-foot-3 player. He has excellent ball skills and more than anything he is under the radar. He is from College Station, Texas—which doesn’t get recruited a whole lot. He has competed against the best in the state of Texas and succeeded against the best. We are very lucky to have him.” — WR coach Klint Kubiak

DB Denzel Feaster - 6-3, 195, 2 stars, Manor High, Austin, Texas - Late pick-up chose Kansas over offers from Miami (Ohio), North Texas and New Mexico.

“Denzel Feaster is a tall, rangy guy. He is one of those full-speed strike guys. When he comes downhill to tackle he doesn’t hit the brakes at all, he sticks his nose in there. He is new to the position, but shows a lot of potential to be one of the better safeties in the Big 12.” — D.C. Clint Bowen

OL Aaron Garza – 6-2, 287, 3 stars, Sherman (Texas) High – Previous Texas Longhorns commitment was one of the first in the class to commit to KU. He held offers from Arizona State, Auburn, USC, Baylor, Oklahoma State and others.

“He is a tough-nosed kid. He is a road-grader type of guy. He is big and strong. He loves the game. He has completely changed his body. He has lost a bunch of weight because it means something to him. He is smart, tough kid who just wants to get better. He is everything you look for in an offensive lineman.” — O-Line coach Zach Yenser

WR Chase Harrell - 6-4, 205, 2 stars, Hargrave High, Huffman, Texas - Signed this week after graduating early from high school and will be in town for spring practices. Picked KU over Houston and Kentucky.

“Chase is an extremely large human. He is imposing and has great length. He is a very physical, tough blocker which is something that is very hard to find at that position. He has great ball skills. He was one of the better players in Houston and in my opinion we got a steal.” — WRs coach Klint Kubiak

RB Taylor Martin - 5-10, 180, 2 stars, Dunbar High, Fort Worth, Texas - Picked Kansas over offer from Colorado State.

“Taylor stands out because he has great breakaway speed. He has good vision and a lot of natural running ability. We are really looking forward to him joining our program.” — Running backs coach Reggie Mitchell

OL Clyde McCauley – 6-5, 275, 2 stars, Bowie High, Arlington, Texas – Committed to Fresno State back in August, but KU cornerbacks coach Kenny Perry lured the big tackle to Lawrence. Also had offers from Louisiana-Monroe and San Diego State.

“Clyde’s ceiling is so high. He is long and athletic. He has more of a tackle body. He is a tough kid and that is what we are looking for to play on the edge. We think he can do that with his athletic ability and physicality. He is tough and can get out and play in space.” — O-Line coach Zach Yenser

DB Tyrone Miller – 6-0, 178, 2 stars, Saline (Michigan) High — Fast and physical safety initially drew interest from Michigan and Michigan State and chose Kansas because of bond with Michigan native and KU recruiting coordinator Reggie Mitchell.

“Tyrone is a very versatile athlete. He can play corner or safety. He has good cover skills and is an outstanding performer on special teams.” — Running backs coach Reggie Mitchell

WR Emmanuel Moore – 6-0, 190, 2 stars, Northwest High, Justin, Texas — First player to commit to Beaty chose KU over North Texas, SMU and Minnesota.

“He is a 6-foot-0, 200-pound wide receiver who runs like a running back after he catches the ball. He is a slot receiver who also does kick returns. He has the most strength of anyone in our class as far as the skill positions go. He is a very powerful guy and we are lucky to have him.” — WR coach Klint Kubiak

LB Osaze Ogbebor — 6-1, 210, 2 stars, Heritage High, Frisco, Texas — Lone linebacker in 2015 class — pronounced Oh-saws — picked KU over New Mexico State, Tulsa and UTEP.

“Osaze is a 210-pound kid who runs the 100-meter dash in track. He doesn’t only run it, but he runs it well. He has great speed and plays with a physical toughness about him. He is a good tackler and a smart young man that has great upside to him. He is a perfect fit for the Big 12.” — D-Line coach Calvin Thibodeaux

DB Marnez Ogletree - 5-10, 190, 2 stars, Fullerton College - Chose KU the night before signing day and picked the Jayhawks over offers from Boise State, Indiana and others.

“He is going to be the total package from a return guy to a defensive back. He was a junior college kid and already has a leg up on a lot of these guys and has played against a lot of athletic kids out in California. He has great speed and comes from a program in Atlanta that has put out some real good corners. He is a physical kid and knows how to tackle. He is already at 200-lbs and is real fast.” — DBs coach Kenny Perry

DB Shaq Richmond – 6-0, 180, 3 stars, Timberview High, Arlington, Texas — Committed to KU without making a campus visit after being wooed to town by Mitchell. Picked Kansas over Louisville, New Mexico, SMU and UTEP.

“He comes from a good program in Mansfield Timberview. He is a rangy corner and his upside is unbelievable. Right now he is about six-foot tall and 185-lbs. He is a physical kid with good ball-playing skills. I think he is going to be a contributor early for us on defense.” — DBs coach Kenny Perry

WR Steven Sims – 5-10, 165, 2 stars, Travis High, Richmond, Texas — Known as a nifty play-maker in space, Sims picked KU over offers from McNeese State, Southeast Louisiana and Stephen F. Austin.

“Steven Sims is a slot receiver who has probably the best shiftiness of any of the players in the city of Houston. He was a runner up for offensive player of the year in the city and there is a reason for that. He has great athletic ability and ball skills and you can’t tackle him in a phone booth.” — WRs coach Klint Kubiak

QB Carter Stanley – 6-2, 188, 2 stars, Vero Beach (Florida) High — Dual-threat prospect who committed to KU in mid-January chose the Jayhawks over UConn and late interest from Penn State, Miami (Florida) and Texas Tech.

“Carter is a great kid, who comes from a great family. He is very competitive and is kind of a late bloomer of sorts in terms of the starting quarterback role. He paid his dues and when he got the reins, he took it. We are very excited for what he can do to our offense. He is a big, tall kid, thick, and can run. He throws the ball well and will be able to create a lot of mismatches for defenses.” — Linebackers coach Kevin Kane

TE Jace Sternberger – 6-4, 225, 2 stars, Kingfisher (Oklahoma) High — Two-way player who is versatile enough to play in the H-Back role chose KU over offers from New Mexico, Sam Houston State and South Dakota.

“He is 6-4, 220 pounds and very athletic. We want to get him the ball in space so that when he is flexed out away from the formation he creates a very tough match up for defenses in that he is bigger and more physical than a secondary player and he faster and more athletic than an outside backer. That, offensively, is very intriguing and we are excited to find ways to get him the ball. He is very physical so in the backfield when he is attached to the formation he is physical enough to kick out or seal in the run game which again creates an advantage for the offense.” — Special Teams coach Gary Hyman

QB Ryan Willis – 6-4, 201, 3 stars, Bishop Miege High — First player to commit in KU's 2015 Class, the No. 3-rated pro style QB in Kansas chose KU over Illinois, Kansas State, Tulsa and Wyoming.

“Ryan is a very smart quarterback. I love the way he manages a game. I love the way he gets the ball out of his hand. He finds his matchups down the field and finds his open receivers. He knows where he is going to go with the ball before the ball is snapped. He is a good enough athlete to get himself out of trouble with his feet. I was very impressed with his ability to get the ball out of his hand to his best players as fast as possible.” — Offensive Coordinator Rob Likens

10:36 a.m. Update:

All right, well that was fast. I've never seen a recruiting class wrap up so quickly and easily like the 2015 crew at KU.

As I mentioned earlier, I think that's a great sign about this coaching staff's ability to not only get these guys to commit to Kansas but also to get them excited about signing and keep them from looking around elsewhere at the last minute.

Signing Day can be an incredibly stressful day for a coaching staff but I'm guessing it was all smiles in the KU football offices this morning. It does not seem like those guys had to worry about a single player.

Now, that's not to say they got every guy they targeted or that this is a can't-miss class. But it speaks a great deal to the bond these guys were able to create with the new Jayhawks and, when you consider that they had less than two months to establish those bonds, that's pretty impressive.

OK, enough patting the staff on the back. Let's get into the nuts and bolts of this class and break things down a little bit.

Here's my very early, very raw look at a few categories that people always find interesting and find themselves asking around signing day. Take it with a grain of salt and remember that it's all based on watching some film and making a few phone calls.

Top 5 Juco Prospects in KU's 2015 Class

1. Brandon Stewart – CB – Advanced cover skills and the size to handle any type of wide receiver.

2. Bazie Bates IV – S – Solid player who played both corner and safety and could handle any number of roles in the secondary. He'll play.

3. Marnez Ogletree – CB – Late pick-up has KU coaches pretty excited. Like Stewart, he could easily emerge as a starting cornerback and also may factor into the kick return game.

4. Jayson Rhodes – OL – KU's need at tackle is significant and the 6-foot-4, 310-pound Rhodes has played there his entire life.

5. Ke'aun Kinner – RB – With Avery, Mann and Cox already back there, the need for another running back to emerge is not necessarily that great. But Kinner has wheels, is shifty and is hard to bring down. Red-shirting him wouldn't be the worst thing for the program.

Top 5 High School Prospects in KU's 2015 Class

1. Dorance Armstrong – DE – Three-star pass rush specialist already seems physical enough to play college ball. Now just needs to show he can handle the mental demands of playing defense in the Big 12.

2. Aaron Garza – OL – Former Texas commitment has solid written all over him. With time to develop, could easily become a 3- or 4-year starter.

3. Carter Stanley – QB – Stanley didn't get a ton of interest early on, but some bigger schools came calling late. Mobility sets him apart and he appears to have supreme confidence in his game. Could easily see him pushing for starting job right away.

4. Tyrone Miller – S – Good mix of fast and physical, Miller has played safety and cornerback and has the size to adjust quickly.

5. Steven Sims – WR – A couple of recruiting analysts I talked to who specialize in scouting Texas said this kid is ready to play in the Big 12 right now.

5 Players who I see playing right away

1. Brandon Stewart – CB – KU lost two quality corners to graduation and a third if you count the often-hyped Kevin Short. Starting spots are available.

2. Marnez Ogletree – CB – KU lost two quality corners to graduation and a third if you count the often-hyped Kevin Short. Starting spots are available.

3. Chase Harrell – WR – KU is looking for receivers to emerge and his frame (6-4, 205) and early enrollment should give him a chance to get out there quickly.

4. Bazie Bates – DB – Too talented to keep off the field. He came to KU for the chance to play right away and he'll find it.

5. Dorance Armstrong – DE – Questions remain at the edge rusher spots and even though KU has options here, very few of them are proven, which gives Armstrong a shot to compete on an even playing field.

5 Players who need time but have solid potential

1. Cam Durley – OL – Has limited experience as a football player but the kind of raw tools that make coaches salivate. 6-6, 285, 78-inch wing span and good feet.

2. Clyde McCauley – OL – Clyde “The Glide” as he calls himself has a huge frame, good feet and comes from a big time prep program. If he's allowed to spend his first year in Lawrence getting stronger and adjusting to college ball, he could be a beast during his red-shirt freshman season and beyond.

3. Jeremiah Booker – WR – At 6-foot-3, Booker is one of the rare receivers in the program with that kind of height. Given that Beaty & Company are going with the Air Raid attack, there's a place for a guy like this once he gets a little stronger.

4. Taylor Martin – RB – Drew interest from TCU, Illinois and K-State. That should tell you what kind of player we're talking about. Now he just needs to adjust to the college grind and wait for his turn.

5. Jace Sternberger – TE – Classic Oklahoma kid who was tough enough to play defensive end in high school. There are a couple of players on the depth chart ahead of him, so time will help, but Sternberger's a great athlete with good size who might remind some of Derek Fine, another Okie.

Position this class helped the most: DEFENSIVE BACK – There's enough talent in this class alone to field a starting secondary. However, with safeties Isaiah Johnson and Fish Smithson back, and young cornerback Matthew Boateng still emerging, the added help in the defensive backfield could make the loss of JaCorey Shepherd, Dexter McDonald and Cassius Sendish easier to swallow.

Position this class helped the least: DEFENSIVE LINE – Armstrong looks like a nice player in the making and juco transfer Jacky Dezir might be able to get onto the field quickly since he'll be here in time for spring ball, but there's not another D-Lineman in the class and the limited number is the issue.

The Beat Goes On: RUNNING BACK - Reggie Mitchell did his thing once again and landed two pretty quality running backs in this class. When you look at DeAndre Mann, Corey Avery and Taylor Cox all in the mix this fall and the possibility of Traevohn Wrench coming back to KU next year, the future of the running back position continues to be bright and should be a strength of future KU teams.

How 'bout those names: The KU coaches were not shy about adding some interesting names to the roster. Whether you're talking about Nigerian-rooted names like Shola Ayinde and Osaze Ogbebor or funky first names like Dorance, Bazie and another Ke'aun (following in the footsteps of Keon Stowers and Keyon Haughton), this crew has plenty of names that'll keep broadcasters on their toes.

8:51 a.m. Update:

Here's the scoop on OL Cam Durley. He told me last night that he didn't think he would sign this morning because his school wanted to do something for him later in the week. Sounds like it'll be official on Thursday or Friday.

From what I've been able to gather, that's just fine with the KU coaching staff and the only thing it will delay is their ability to talk about him at today's press conference and tonight's signing day party at Abe & Jake's. But that's small potatoes compared to the opportunity to land a guy with the kind of potential that Durley has.

They are over the limit of 24 by one and I can only assume that that means one of these guys is going to be a gray shirt, which is a player who reports to campus with everyone else but pays his own way that first semester and does not get to have anything official to do with the program until the spring semester. It basically gives you a chance to get a kid one semester early and, in this case, is the equivalent of a 2016 recruit graduating high school early and getting to campus in time for next spring the way Chase Harrell has for this spring.

So that's it for this morning. Everyone who was expected to sign and send their letters to KU has done so. Again, just an impressive feat to get all of those letters by 8 a.m. or so.

Stay right here throughout the morning for more feedback on this class as well as any photos and reaction from recruits that might trickle in. I'm expecting to get several and will definitely jump back in here with some more thoughts on the crew KU just locked up.

As for the hard part, though, that's a wrap. Now the fun begins of analyzing these guys and sharing some of the nuggets I was able to get from them during the past couple weeks.

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller
WR Chase Harrell
DB Marnez Ogletree
DB Denzel Feaster
WR Steven Sims
WR Jeremiah Booker
DB Shola Ayinde
LB Osaze Ogbebor
DE Dorance Amstrong
OL Aaron Garza
QB Ryan Willis
DB Shaq Richmond
TE Jace Sternberger
RB Taylor Martin
OL Clyde McCauley
WR Emmanuel Moore

8:41 a.m. Update:

Just ran across this photo of Denzel Feaster on a KU Football account. Good look at the young man's size. Beaty's not the biggest dude, but he's not tiny either. Feaster was a big-time pick up.

New KU safety Denzel Feaster with head coach David Beaty during a recent visit.

New KU safety Denzel Feaster with head coach David Beaty during a recent visit. by Matt Tait

8:21 a.m. Update:

Here's the official announcement from Marnez Ogletree, which came about 25 minutes ago… He's back home in Lawrenceville, Georgia, which is why he was able to sign and send so early despite having played his juco ball out in California.

None by Marnez Ogletree™

8:13 a.m. Update:

KU has added WR Emmanuel Moore to its list — he was one I couldn't track down — so that brings us to 17 and I've got a call in to O-lineman Cam Durley, who just freakin' committed yesterday, but it looks like his letter has been sent too. When I talked to him yesterday, he said he was planning on sending it as early as he could but still had to talk to his coaches and everything to make sure of all of the plans and details. Can't blame him. Things moved pretty fast for that guy in the past day or two, but he should wind up being a pretty nice pick-up.

I think the linemen they got in this class are really impressive. They might not be guys that come in and wow you right away, but if they're able to red-shirt and develop at the proper pace, you could be looking at multiple 3- or 4-year starters in this group, with Garza, McCauley and Durley all having tremendous potential. The best part about that is a couple of them are tackles, which KU desperately needs.

I also like all three of the juco O-linemen who signed in December and think D'Andre Banks, Will Smith and Jayson Rhodes could all factor in right away. But, as so many people have pointed out so often — none more often than our own Tom Keegan — the best way to improve an offensive line is by signing high school kids and letting them develop. KU has taken a nice step forward in that department with this class.

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller
WR Chase Harrell
DB Marnez Ogletree
DB Denzel Feaster
WR Steven Sims
WR Jeremiah Booker
DB Shola Ayinde
LB Osaze Ogbebor
DE Dorance Amstrong
OL Aaron Garza
QB Ryan Willis
DB Shaq Richmond
TE Jace Sternberger
RB Taylor Martin
OL Clyde McCauley
WR Emmanuel Moore

7:59 a.m. Update:

Just got a text from Clyde "The Glide" McCauley, KU's new 6-5, 275-pound offensive lineman who has a killer nickname (especially for a man that big). His letter is in. That leaves just one I have yet to confirm, but I think it's in. Gonna do some searching around real quick to make sure.

What an unreal morning.

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller
WR Chase Harrell
DB Marnez Ogletree
DB Denzel Feaster
WR Steven Sims
WR Jeremiah Booker
DB Shola Ayinde
LB Osaze Ogbebor
DE Dorance Amstrong
OL Aaron Garza
QB Ryan Willis
DB Shaq Richmond
TE Jace Sternberger
RB Taylor Martin
OL Clyde McCauley

Clyde McCauley film:
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1724177/clyde-mccauley

7:54 a.m. Update:

This truly is insane. Not even 8 a.m. and all of the letters are just about in. Credit KU coach David Beaty and his staff for locking these kids up and making them feel so good about their commitments that they wanted to sign ASAP.

In years past, we've often been waiting on letters to arrive at 11 a.m. or even later. Sometimes it has gone into the next day with a couple of guys. Not today, though. Wake up, sign, send it in and then go party with your friends and family. That's been the M.O. for this year's class, and, although that does not really translate to football or the playing field, it shows you, ever so slightly, that these guys are reliable and determined. Good sign. I'm in awe. Haven't even had time to fire up my power breakfast yet.

Here's some more film and the updated list…

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller
WR Chase Harrell
DB Marnez Ogletree
DB Denzel Feaster
WR Steven Sims
WR Jeremiah Booker
DB Shola Ayinde
LB Osaze Ogbebor
DE Dorance Amstrong
OL Aaron Garza
QB Ryan Willis
DB Shaq Richmond
TE Jace Sternberger
RB Taylor Martin

7:46 a.m. Update:

I've heard from a lot of these guys via text message this morning and almost all of them got up early to sign their letters as soon as they could and will have some sort of ceremony at their school later in the day.

That's when their friends, family members, coaches and teachers will be there with the balloons and cake and all the cameras. A bunch of these dudes said they'd send me photos from their signing celebrations when they take them. Some of them are schedule for 10:30 or 11 a.m. and others won't be until the end of the school day. Either way, you can bet these guys are feeling pretty good walking around the halls of their schools rockin' their KU gear and big smiles.

KU added a couple more names to the official list, so here's an update and some more film…

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller
DB Marnez Ogletree
DB Denzel Feaster
WR Steven Sims
WR Jeremiah Booker
DB Shola Ayinde
LB Osaze Ogbebor
DE Dorance Amstrong
OL Aaron Garza
QB Ryan Willis
DB Shaq Richmond
TE Jace Sternberger

Shaq Richmond:
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/4693296/highlights/182023377

7:39 a.m. Update:

Add another QB to KU's official list of signees… Nearby prospect Ryan Willis, from Bishop Miege High, who was the first player to commit to KU in this recruiting class way back last summer has made it official and sent his letter to Kansas.

None by Ryan Willis 5⃣

Willis had a monster season last fall and has the size and arm strength to play in the Big 12. He and Carter Stanley spent some time together during last weekend's visits and it'll be very interesting to see how those guys push each other and develop together in the program. Stanley's more mobile than Willis, but Willis has the bigger frame coming in.

Here's a quick look at some film on Willis…

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller
DB Marnez Ogletree
DB Denzel Feaster
WR Steven Sims
WR Jeremiah Booker
DB Shola Ayinde
LB Osaze Ogbebor
DE Dorance Amstrong
OL Aaron Garza
QB Ryan Willis

7:31 a.m. Update:

Just got confirmation that Osaze Ogbebor (pronounced Oh-saws) and Dorance Armstrong have sent their letters to KU, as well.

So far, it's been pretty smooth sailing for KU, which has received letters of intent from more than half of the expected signees. That's a pretty good success rate for any program 30 minutes into signing day.

Here's a quick look at some Ogbebor and Armstrong film as well as the updated list of confirmed letters.

Osaze Ogbebor:
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/838159/highlights/210146407

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller
DB Marnez Ogletree
DB Denzel Feaster
WR Steven Sims
WR Jeremiah Booker
DB Shola Ayinde
LB Osaze Ogbebor
DE Dorance Amstrong
OL Aaron Garza

7:25 a.m. Update:

As expected, the letters are starting to come in one after the next right now. Always a good sign for a program when the kids are so fired up to sign that they do it within the first 15 or 20 minutes they're allowed to. Takes a lot of the drama and stress out of what can be a crazy day.

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller
DB Marnez Ogletree
DB Denzel Feaster
WR Steven Sims
WR Jeremiah Booker
DB Shola Ayinde

Here's some more film from three of the latest confirmed signees…

Steven Sims:

Shola Ayinde:
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1370714/highlights/170830377

Jeremiah Booker:
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1379408/highlights/166593375

7:17 a.m. Update:

KU has really stepped up its game this year… Usually, the university and football offices are the last to announce the commitments because they have to get verification from so many places on campus, but KU's keeping up with the rest of us so far this year.

Here's another from the KU Twitter account, as hard-hitting safety Denzel Feaster (what a great name, right?!?) is now official, as well.

None by Kansas Football

Here's a look at some of Feaster's highlights. No doubt in my mind that this guy could step in and play right away.

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller
DB Marnez Ogletree
DB Denzel Feaster

7:08 a.m. Update:

Still nothing on Ogletree's Twitter page, but the official Kansas Football Twitter account just Tweeted out his name and film. Doesn't get more official than that, so I'm adding him to the list…. Again, this guy sounds like a very nice pick-up. Looking forward to learning more about how he got into the class from Coach Beaty later today.

None by Kansas Football

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller
DB Marnez Ogletree
DB Denzel Feaster

7:01 a.m. Update:

While we're waiting for more letters to roll in, I wanted to make sure you all saw this photo of WR Chase Harrell, who, somewhat unexpectedly signed with the 2015 class early and is enrolled at KU this semester and will participate in spring practices.

It's just one photo, but I think you can see how good the 6-4, 205-pound wideout's frame looks in this photo. With that raw build and his early arrival, Harrell has positioned himself very nicely to be a factor in a wide-open receiving corps that will need more than a couple of guys to step up.

Class of 2015 WR Chase Harrell, who graduated high school early and will participate in spring practices at KU.

Class of 2015 WR Chase Harrell, who graduated high school early and will participate in spring practices at KU. by Matt Tait

6:53 a.m. Update:

Now's where it gets interesting. With so many kids signing in the Central Time Zone, things could get going fast and furious here once we get into the 7 o'clock hour in the Midwest.

Consider it the first sign of competition out of a group of players who seem to be very competitive and interested in nothing more than showing up, working hard and having a lot of fun.

This class is not the most impressive class you'll ever see on paper, but I've been pretty impressed with the attitude of the guys I've talked to (probably 10 or 12 of the 17 expected to sign today). They all seem fired up for the opportunity and focused on proving themselves. To me, it's exactly the kind of class that KU should be getting right now and exactly the kind of class that KU fans are going to have to get used to seeing until the wins start coming on a more regular basis.

Again, it's a lot of 2 & 3 star guys — mostly 2-stars, actually — but that's hardly the end all, be all of these guys as college football players.

From here, it'll be on the coaching staff to coach 'em up and develop them and the players themselves to buy in and put the work in to become legit Big 12 players. Not all of them will succeed. But, like I said, I've been pretty impressed with how determined these guys sound.

Get ready for the next wave… Tick, tick, tick, tick…

6:43 a.m. Update:

Just received this photo from Carter Stanley, decked out in his KU gear for the big signing…

New KU QB Carter Stanley rockin' his KU gear on his big day…

New KU QB Carter Stanley rockin' his KU gear on his big day… by Matt Tait

6:31 a.m. Update:

Things have officially gotten under way. I've heard from Stanley and Miller and things seem to be looking good for Ogletree, who definitely would qualify as a bit of a signing day surprise.

That would be a pretty big pick up for a guy with some pretty good film.

New KU cornerback Marnez Ogletree during his official visit to campus. (Twitter photo)

New KU cornerback Marnez Ogletree during his official visit to campus. (Twitter photo) by Matt Tait

Signed, Sealed & Delivered:
QB Carter Stanley
DB Tyrone Miller

6:11 a.m. Update:

We're officially in the 7 o'clock hour on the east coast and just waiting for confirmation from Carter Stanley and Tyrone Miller about their letters.

While we wait, here's a quick look at their highlight films for those who haven't taken a minute to check them out.

TYRONE MILLER, 6-0, 178, 2-star Safety:

CARTER STANLEY, 6-2, 188, 2-start Quarterback
http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2139724/highlights/196298375

I talked to Stanley last night and he said the amount of support and love he had received from KU fans since the day he committed had been overwhelming. His plan was to sport his Kansas Jayhawks hat and a Jayhawk tie he picked up during his official visit while signing his letter of intent this morning.

5:47 a.m. Update:

One of the more interesting things that will be worth tracking this morning is the status of junior-college cornerback Marnez Ogletree.

The 5-10, 190-pound DB from Fullerton C.C. in California has not officially committed to KU but has hinted that he might wind up signing with the Jayhawks today. Jon Kirby of JayhawkSlant.com reported late Tuesday night that Ogletree was expected to ink with Kansas today but added that he could not confirm that 100 percent.

Definitely worth keeping an eye on, given the fact that the 2015 class already appears to be full. Should Ogletree sign with Kansas, it could either bump someone else from the list (unlikely) or be a gray shirt situation (more likely).

Like I said, definitely worth tracking because Ogletree, who also had offers Boise State, Fresno State, Indiana, Utah State and others, is a guy who could make an immediate impact at a position of need.

Carter Stanley, one of KU football's newest quarterbacks out of Vero Beach, Florida, figures to be one of the first to make his commitment official on national signing day. (Photo courtesy Hobie Hiler/Special to Treasure Coast newspapers)

Carter Stanley, one of KU football's newest quarterbacks out of Vero Beach, Florida, figures to be one of the first to make his commitment official on national signing day. (Photo courtesy Hobie Hiler/Special to Treasure Coast newspapers) by Matt Tait

Original Post 5:33 a.m.

With 13 of the commitments expected to sign with the Kansas University football program this morning calling Texas home, the KU fax machines figure to be working overtime and could run the risk of getting jammed.

OK, maybe that whole doomsday jammed-up scenario is a bit of a reach. After all it is 2015 and technology — along with the common sense of having guys send their letters to multiple fax machines — have come a long way, but it still baffles me and just about anybody else who covers recruiting that the fax machine still plays such a prominent role in one of college football's biggest days.

Anyway, getting back to the KU commitments, with all of those Texans sending their letters from the Central time zone, this thing, provided it all goes smoothly and there are no surprises, could wind up being one of the quickest recruiting mornings in recent memory.

Remember, in the recent past, with former KU coach Charlie Weis' classes, the letters of intent came from all over the map, sometimes even as far away as Hawaii. Today, even with the non-Texas prospects who are signing, you're only looking at two athletes who will be signing outside of the Central Time Zone — Vero Beach, Florida quarterback Carter Stanley and Saline, Michigan defensive back Tyrone Miller.

I talked with Stanley Tuesday night and he said he was planning on signing and sending his letter of intent at 7 a.m., his time, 7:15 a.m. at the latest. That's 6:00-6:15 a.m. here, so it seems likely that Stanley's will be the first letter KU receives.

It could be a race between Stanley and Miller, though, because the Michigan prospect also said he thought he would sign his letter as early as possible. Both athletes will have separate ceremonies at their respective schools later in the day, with Miller's planned for 1:30 p.m. (12:30, Lawrence time) in the auditorium and Stanley's at 11 a.m. (10, Lawrence time).

Stay logged in throughout the morning right here for feedback, reaction, highlights and photos from KU's latest recruiting class.

It's been one of the tougher classes to track down, but I think I got to 10 or so of the 16 guys signing today so the morning should be filled with interesting tidbits and great visuals.

For those of you who might have missed it — or just not come across it yet — here's a look at the latest action in the class, as Huffman High wide receiver Chase Harrell graduated early and enrolled at KU in time for the spring semester and mid-year transfer M.J. Mathis, who signed back in December, no longer appears to be headed to Lawrence. In his place, KU secured a commitment from 6-foot-6, 275-pound Houston Christian offensive lineman Cam Durley, who also told me he was expected to sign bright and early this morning.

Here's our player-by-player look at KU's current recruiting class, which includes the seven mid-year guys (remember, no Mathis) who signed letters of intent back in December:

And here's a neat new feature from 24/7 Sports that tracks the national landscape of this year's recruiting classes. Keep an eye on it all day, as it figures to change with any late-breaking news or surprises that are bound to happen, maybe not at KU, but you know it'll happen somewhere.

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New turf being installed at KU’s Memorial Stadium

Construction crews in charge of installing new turf at Memorial Stadium work to level out the playing surface on Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015

Construction crews in charge of installing new turf at Memorial Stadium work to level out the playing surface on Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015 by Matt Tait

Construction crews and Bobcats have taken over Memorial Stadium. But, no, it's not the start of any major stadium renovations that KU fans are dying to see.

Instead, the Kansas University athletic department is replacing the turf at Memorial Stadium in preparation for the upcoming spring football season.

The old turf, which already has been completely ripped out, was installed in the spring and summer of 2009 and the new turf, which went down last summer in place of the old track that was torn out following the completion of Rock Chalk Park, will remain in place. When the project is finished, which KU officials said would be in time for spring practices, the two shades of green will match better than the turf did last season.

Work on the project began last weekend and the construction crews are currently in the process of re-leveling the entire field.

Once the new turf is installed, it will look nearly identical to what you saw last season in terms of logos and end zone markings, with the only exception being a six-foot white border surrounding the playing field instead of the 18-20-inch border that had been there. The thicker boundary is more in line with what the rest of the Big 12 Conference stadiums have in place.

According to a KU official with knowledge of the project, the new turf is expected to hold up for around eight years.

KU associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said the cost of the current project is around $200,000, less than half of last summer's $500,000 price tag to remove the track and put turf down in its place. That project was paid for by an anonymous donor.

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NFL Pro Bowl to include 3 Jayhawks for first time since 1963

Former Jayhawks (L to R) Darrell Stuckey, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris at this year's Pro Bowl in Arizona. (Photo courtesy of Harris)

Former Jayhawks (L to R) Darrell Stuckey, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris at this year's Pro Bowl in Arizona. (Photo courtesy of Harris) by Matt Tait

When the best of the best in the NFL hit the field for Sunday's Pro Bowl in Arizona, the rosters will include three former Jayhawks for the first time in more than 50 years.

Chris Harris (2007-10), Darrell Stuckey (2006-09) and Aqib Talib (2005-07), who shared the same KU secondary during the 12-1, 2007 season and 2008 Orange Bowl victory, will be the first trio of Jayhawks to play in the Pro Bowl since Galen Fiss (1950-52), Mike McCormack (1948-50) and Curtis McClinton (1959-61) represented their pro teams in the 1963 Pro Bowl.

It will mark the first appearance in the postseason all-star showcase for all three players. Talib was selected to the AFC Pro Bowl squad last season but did not play because of injury and Harris and Stuckey were named to the team for the first time in their careers.

Former Jayhawk Chris Harris, center, poses for a photo with current Denver Broncos teammates C.J. Anderson, left, and T.J. Ward, right, before a community outreach event at the Pro Bowl in Arizona. (photo courtesy @chrisharrisjr)

Former Jayhawk Chris Harris, center, poses for a photo with current Denver Broncos teammates C.J. Anderson, left, and T.J. Ward, right, before a community outreach event at the Pro Bowl in Arizona. (photo courtesy @chrisharrisjr) by Matt Tait

Harris and Talib, both starting cornerbacks for the Denver Broncos, were two of the top defensive backs in the league during the 2014 season. Talib led the Broncos with four interceptions and finished fourth on the team with 64 tackles. He also added a sack. Harris, who was ranked as the NFL's top cornerback by Pro Football Focus — which took into account overall performance including percentage of receptions and yards given up — was right behind him with three interceptions, 53 tackles and a sack.

Stuckey, a back-up safety in his fifth season with the San Diego Chargers, again was a star on special teams, which earned him the trip to the Pro Bowl. He led the Chargers with 15 special teams tackles and made 27 more tackles in 155 defensive snaps.

Stuckey's addition to the Pro Bowl roster was made official earlier this week, as he finished as an alternate in the voting but took the place of New England's Matthew Slater, who is preparing for the Super Bowl.

This trio is largely responsible for the more favorable light that KU football has enjoyed in pro football. Not only have all three performed well enough to be respected for their stats and play on the field, but each has been part of some of the top teams in football during the past few seasons.

This weekend will mark just the second time in history that three former Jayhawks will play in the Pro Bowl together. KU has enjoyed seven different seasons with two former Jayhawks playing in the Pro Bowl at the same time and the program has had a representative in the game 29 different times, with the first coming in 1939, when Pete Mehringer, a former KU offensive lineman and 1932 Olympic wrestling gold medalist, represented the Los Angeles Bulldogs and the most recent until this season being former San Francisco 49ers stud Dana Stubblefield in 1998.

John Hadl and Mike McCormack are the Jayhawks who made the most Pro Bowl appearances, with six apiece, and KU packed its biggest punch in 1966 and 1970, when both Hadl and Gale Sayers played in the Pro Bowl.

Aqib Talib at this year's Pro Bowl (photo courtesy @NFLNow)

Aqib Talib at this year's Pro Bowl (photo courtesy @NFLNow) by Matt Tait

Here's a quick look at KU's all-time Pro Bowl representatives:

• Frank Bausch — Chicago — 1940
• Larry Brown — Pittsburgh — 1983
• Nolan Cromwell — Los Angeles — 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984
• Galen Fiss — Cleveland — 1963, 1964
• John Hadl — San Diego & Los Angeles — 1965, 1966, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1974
• Chris Harris — Denver — 2014
• LeRoy Irvin — Los Angeles — 1986, 1987
• Ron Jessie — Los Angeles — 1977
• Curtis McClinton — Dallas Texans & Kansas City — 1963, 1967, 1968
• Mike McCormack — New York & Cleveland — 1952, 1957, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1963
• Peter Mehringer — Los Angeles Bulldogs — 1939
• John Riggins — New York Jets — 1976
• Gale Sayers — Chicago — 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970
• Dana Stubblefield — San Francisco — 1995, 1996, 1998
• Darrell Stuckey — San Diego — 2014
• Aqib Talib — New England & Denver — 2013, 2014
• Delvin Williams — San Francisco & Miami — 1977, 1979
• John Zook — Atlanta — 1974

Former KU safety and Kansas City, Kansas native Darrell Stuckey — joined by New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram — takes time out for a photo at a Pro Bowl event earlier this week. (photo courtesy Indianapolis Colts mascot @blue)

Former KU safety and Kansas City, Kansas native Darrell Stuckey — joined by New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram — takes time out for a photo at a Pro Bowl event earlier this week. (photo courtesy Indianapolis Colts mascot @blue) by Matt Tait

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Toughness, teamwork common themes on David Beaty’s coaching staff

Today marked the third time since 2010 that I've found myself in the position of having to walk into a room full of football coaches whom I did not know and explain to them that I planned to spend the next however many years covering and caring about just about everything they think, say and do when it comes to Kansas football.

Because I've done this so often, I kind of have it down. First impressions are important, so you want to be professional and respectful. But you also want to be confident. Above everything else, though, you want to make sure you don't assume familiarity. Few things outrage me as much as that and I try very hard to make sure I'm never the one doing the assuming.

So there I was, with my hand extended, my business card ready to pass out, and my questions ready for the new members of David Beaty's KU football staff ready to go.

There were eight of them who met with the local media for the first time on Wednesday and although I didn't quite make my way around the room to say to all of them, I saw enough of them to know that what I thought was an impressive staff on paper is even more impressive in person.

It's not their resumes or track records or accomplishments that make Beaty's boys impressive. It's the type of people they are. Like their head coach, they're energetic, engaging, friendly dudes who are here to coach football and have a little fun doing it. When I say fun, I'm not talking about the kind of get-togethers you see at the country club. These guys are serious about the business and even more serious about the challenge they've agreed to take on by joining the football program at KU. But they're not so stuffy that they're going to be relentless jerks in their pursuit of that, nor are they so naïve to think that it's going to be easy.

Each one of these guys — Rob Likens (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks), Zach Yenser (offensive line), Calvin Thibodeaux (defensive line), Klint Kubiak (wide receivers), Gary Hyman (special teams/tight ends), Kevin Kane (linebackers), Je'Ney Jackson (director of strength and conditioning) and Gene Wier (director of high school relations) — seems well aware of the monumental rebuilding task that's ahead, and rather than being intimidated or turned off by that, these guys seem to be gearing up for a fight.

The two common themes that bounced around throughout the room were toughness and teamwork. Nearly every coach I spoke with mentioned something about playing tough and coaching tough kids. The most notable such soundbite came from Kubiak, the 27-year-old wide receivers coach who told me that he wanted KU's wide receivers to be the toughest unit on the team and added, “And if they're not, they won't play.”

Then there was offensive line coach Zach Yenser, whose position group is tougher than most by nature, who said he was not at all intimidated about jumping into the wild and wide-open Big 12 Conference after dealing with all kinds of styles of offenses in the Pac-12. Again, though, Yenser was not cocky when talking about why he thought what he, Beaty, offensive coordinator Rob Likens and the rest of the offensive staff would bring to the KU offense, more confident in his belief that, with hard work and, of course, toughness, it would work.

Speaking of Likens, he listed the three things that he wants to see from the offensive players he puts on the field and toughness was included in the trio of traits: We want them to be fast, we want them to be tough and we want them to have great character, he said. And he added that the staff was not really willing to compromise or sacrifice in any of those areas.

All the words and talk in the world won't mean a thing for the results on the field. And, by now, it's quite clear that KU fans are not interested in hearing about how things will be better or different or new. They just want to see better football.

I get the sense that this staff, like Beaty and like Clint Bowen before him, gets that and is made up of a bunch of regular guys who are much more interested in working and finding ways to fix problems and create advantages than talking about how they'll do it or what needs to happen.

Time will tell if my read on these guys is right or wrong or if it'll make a difference. But given what I learned today about the personalities and make-up of the coaches in charge of bringing change to KU football, it seems like the program is starting over in a pretty good spot — for the long haul — and is backed a bunch of coaches who understand the challenges, are willing to embrace them and should be pretty easy to like.

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Jump to Kansas represents huge opportunity for growth for former Cal assistants

The past couple of days in the Kansas University football world have brought several answers and a couple of questions regarding first-year KU coach David Beaty's staff.

Beaty on Tuesday confirmed the hiring of six assistant coaches, including offensive coordinator Rob Likens, who joins the Jayhawks after successful stints at Cal and Louisiana Tech under Sonny Dykes.

Tuesday night, a source indicated to me — and Dykes later confirmed via Rivals.com — that Cal offensive line coach Zach Yenser was following Likens to Lawrence and would become KU's offensive line coach and run-game coordinator.

Likens and Yenser are incredibly tight and have worked well together throughout the years, helping bring some of the most productive offenses in school history to both La Tech and Cal under the direction of Dykes and Cal offensive coordinator Tony Franklin.

According to a couple of guys who cover the Bears out in Berkley, the two also are very personable, loved and respected by the players they coach and even have become fan and media favorites during the past couple of seasons.

The question begs, then, why would either guy leave such a solid situation at Cal to roll the dice on a rebuilding project at KU?

The chance to work with Beaty no doubt factored into the equation, but it's only part of the answer. The other elements might be the bigger pieces of the puzzle.

Clearly, both guys stand to receive promotions, with Likens jumping from receivers coach and passing game coordinator to OC and the opportunity to call plays, and Yenser from O-Line coach to O-Line coach/run-game coordinator. But the titles are just half of it. Those titles also figure to come with a couple of bigger numbers attached to their paychecks.

According to various media reports out of Cal, the Golden Bears' assistant coaches are currently and have been some of the lowest paid coaches in the profession. Add to that the extremely high cost of living in that part of the country, and you're talking about a dollar that doesn't stretch very far.

That won't be an issue for either guy in Kansas. At all. Not only will they likely get significant raises, both will also be living in a part of the country where the dollars they do make get them much more. Don't get me wrong, most coaches are focused solely on making the best moves to advance their careers from the time they get into the business to the time they hang up their whistles, but nearly doubling their salaries surely didn't hurt when they were searching their souls about whether Kansas was the right place for them to take the next step.

According to reports from 2013, when Dykes and his staff were hired at Cal, Likens made a base salary of $125,000, with bonuses that took him just over $200,000 annually. Yenser's base salary was $100,000 and his bonuses extended his compensation to $185,000.

The 30-year-old Yenser, whom Beaty confirmed as a member of his staff on Wednesday — saying, "We are thrilled to have Zach join our staff. He is full of energy, enthusiasm and passion for the game. The production of his players at both Louisiana Tech and Cal has been extraordinary. His players love and respect him and that is important to me. Much Like the rest of our staff, Zach is a man of great integrity and character and we are happy to have him leading our offensive line unit." — may not make quite as big of a salary jump as Likens, who figures to pull in at least double what he made at Cal.

College football is big business, and even at Kansas, where the football program has won just 12 games in the past five seasons, big bucks enter the equation. As I said, I'm sure the opportunity to increase their income was a big pull for these guys, but, based on what I've heard from various sources about both of them, money has nothing to do with why they coach or how they do it.

That's in line with the way Beaty and the rest of the staff operate — being able to land guys like this and pay them well is yet another advantage of setting Beaty's base salary at $800,000 — and this video from one of Cal's spring practices in 2013 shows you exactly what kind of guys KU is getting for that dough.

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