Tom Keegan: Daylon Charlot finally put on stage
photo by: Carter Gaskins
The euphoria of the Kansas football fan base when David Beaty landed a pair of Alabama transfers reached offseason levels that it hadn’t experienced since Charlie Weis’ rapid-fire announcements of a pair of five-star quarterbacks transferring to KU.
Offensive tackle Charles Baldwin and wide receiver Daylon Charlot were going to take Kansas to the big time after leaving ‘Bama, just as Notre Dame transfer Dayne Crist and ex-BYU trigger man Jake Heaps were going to become reincarnations of former Weis pupil Tom Brady.
Crist couldn’t keep his starting job, and when it became his turn a year later, Heaps also played his way into backup status and transferred to Miami (Fla.).
Baldwin, who had spent one spring semester in Tuscaloosa before being kicked off the football team, spent two years in school at Kansas, but never played a down. He was kicked off the team midway through last season, but still was listed on the roster.
Charlot came to Kansas with three remaining years of eligibility, after catching two passes totaling 9 yards at ‘Bama. Last season, Charlot caught one pass for no gain, spent the final weeks of the season at safety as a practice player and returned to receiver during the spring.
FBS transfers generally generate more excitement when they transfer than when they play.
But it’s too early to give up on Charlot. He has too much talent to ignore, some of which he flashed Saturday in an otherwise forgettable day for Kansas football.
A junior, Charlot caught four passes for a team-high 67 yards in a 48-16 loss at Texas Tech. Heading into the game, he had caught two passes for 26 yards.
Charlot made a spectacular play late in the game, sprinting along the left sideline and making a one-handed catch for a 44-yard gain.
“In the video, you can see the DB was holding my right hand back, so I caught it with my left hand,” Charlot said.
He said he doesn’t practice one-handed catches.
“Nah, no sir,” he said. “It’s just something that’s God-given talent, I guess.”
Finally, friends from Patterson, La., who had witnessed his many great plays in high school, who had boasted about him when he muffed a punt in the Under Armour All-Star Game, scooped it up and returned it 54 years for a touchdown, were able to see him do it in college. They let him know they saw his one-handed catch.
“It was crazy,” he said of hearing from friends. “They say they were excited, but they say, ‘I’ve seen you make that play all the time in high school,’ so it wasn’t really that exciting for them.”
If he didn’t have a team meeting to attend, Charlot could have talked about his first extensive playing time (36 snaps).
“When the ball was in the air I was telling myself in my mind, ‘I’m going to make this play, a hundred percent. I’m going to make this play, a hundred percent. It’s going to 100 percent be mine. I’m going to catch the ball because that’s what playmakers do,'” he said.
Playmakers can’t make plays when watching from the sideline. Charlot said knee troubles have slowed him since coming to Kansas, but he declared himself “100 percent healthy.”
He said he didn’t think there was any connection to his playing time increasing the week Beaty took over as offensive coordinator after firing Doug Meacham.
“I believe better things are ahead,” he said. “Good things are coming. I’m just growing from here on out.”
He has a thicker build than most Kansas receivers, has good speed and strong hands. It’s not too late to think that he and Steven Sims can form the sort of 1-2 receiving tandem Kansas has lacked since Weis-era transfers Nick Harwell and Nigel King teamed in 2014.