3 juco transfers on KU football offense point to chemistry as key to spring success
Three Class of 2019 signees who project as key members of the offense in Les Miles’ first season as head coach at the University of Kansas already are on campus.
If junior college transfers and spring semester enrollees Thomas MacVittie, Ezra Naylor and Andrew Parchment are setting the world on fire during the closed portions of spring practices, when all of the critical on-field playbook and scheme preparation takes place, then Miles is keeping that information secure somewhere under his signature white cap.
Asked earlier this week for his assessments of MacVittie, a leading candidate to start at quarterback, and receivers Naylor and Parchment, Miles elected to reveal little.
“They’re good kids,” the coach began. “They’re going to work hard. Their last opportunity. This is the time where some of those guys show they get to play in that next league or, you know, they get a great degree and they have an opportunity to go on upon graduation.”
Though requested for interviews this week, neither MacVittie nor redshirt senior quarterback Carter Stanley were made available.
A 6-foot-5, 215-pound junior, MacVittie’s college career began at Pittsburgh, in the ACC. He redshirted there his first season, then played sparingly on special teams his second. That led the QB to transfer to Mesa Community College (Ariz.), where he played in 2018.
Since arriving at KU as a mid-year transfer, MacVittie had to get acclimated. But as the QB explained earlier this month, when an interview request was granted, there was an adjustment period this spring for everybody involved in the program.
MacVittie said members of KU’s offense will not only learn about coordinator Les Koenning’s playbook this spring, but also develop relationships that will help them on Saturdays this coming fall.
“It’s a whole new staff for the players returning. So just the chemistry that we’re building,” MacVittie said of one thing that must be accomplished this spring. “The snap count is a little different from what I’ve had and probably what they’ve had last year. Just that chemistry that we’re building day in and day out, even in the weight room, the meeting rooms, is something that’s really going to form this team.”
A sophomore cornerback who started 11 games this past season for KU, Corione Harris immediately noticed receivers Naylor and Parchment at spring practices. Harris could tell the duo who played together in 2018 at Iowa Central Community College arrived with the intent of helping the Jayhawks become a better team than they were a year ago.
“Coming in, I felt like I could contribute to the offense,” said Naylor, a 6-4, 210-pound junior, of being a new player in the program, adding it was good to hear Harris’ appraisal.
But Naylor didn’t want to make any assumptions, either.
“We’ve just kept on working and working and working,” he said of the approach he and Parchment are taking.
Listed at 6-2 and 185 pounds, Parchment, also a junior, admitted he definitely grew accustomed to his new surroundings easily because he had his juco teammate, Naylor, along for the ride.
But that connection was just one factor in the process. And Parchment explained he’s already feeling at home.
“It’s not just with Ezra. I feel like the receiver room as a whole, we’re all brothers already. Even though I’ve only been out here since January,” Parchment explained, calling it a quick couple of months, but also saying it felt to him as if the relationships among the receivers go back farther. “It’s been great.”
Following KU’s seventh spring practice on Thursday, Parchment felt as though his individual progress has been bolstered by support from both his teammates and receivers coach Emmett Jones.
“Just the way the team has brought me in with open arms and the coaches and stuff like that, always showing me love and making sure I’m all right,” Parchment shared. “Especially with Coach Jones, always texting me and making sure everything’s good, making sure I’m taking care of my business. Everything’s just been smooth so far.”
Naylor thinks the chemistry the offense develops this spring will go a long way toward putting a successful product on the field.
“Once we get that set in stone we’ll be able to go harder at each other and be able to take criticism and stuff like that,” Naylor offered. “Once the chemistry is completely set and everybody’s feeling great, the sky’s the limit.”
Even though the Jayhawks have a long way to go, Naylor has been impressed with his new teammates this spring.
“I didn’t expect everyone to be so competitive. Everybody’s got that dog in them,” Naylor declared. “Everybody wants it — I wouldn’t say more than me; I would never say that — but everybody wants it.”