KU coach Lance Leipold announces 2 signees, several walk-ons and talks transfers on national signing day

Kansas head coach Lance Leipold watches from the sidelines as an official reviews a targeting call against Texas during the second quarter on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 at Memorial Stadium.

College football’s February signing day has been forever changed by the transfer portal, turning what once was among the biggest days of the year in the sport into more of a reason to rehash days gone by.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t things to celebrate when the first Wednesday of February rolls around each year.

KU coach Lance Leipold on Wednesday officially announced the addition of two more newcomers — prep cornerback Jacoby Davis, of North Shore High in Houston, and Australian punter Damon Greaves, who committed to the program this week.

But most of the work, at Kansas and across the country, is done earlier than ever these days. In December, KU announced 12 early signees in the high school class of 2023. Four of them are already enrolled at KU. In mid-January, the program announced another 13 midseason transfers, many of whom came from other Division I schools.

Regardless of who signed when, Leipold said Wednesday that the program addressed some key needs with the incoming class. One of the biggest areas of emphasis was an area that Leipold and his staff said throughout the 2022 season needed help.

“We looked to improve things defensively (and) get ourselves in a (good) position depth-wise,” he said. “It’s probably something we’ll talk about all the way up to the first game and beyond. We have to be better defensively. Through graduation and attrition, we had to address some things there, and I like what we’ve been able to do.”

Specifically, Leipold said the Jayhawks added speed and physicality, both through the portal and with younger players. Those portal guys, though, will be leaned on immediately to fill the void left by the departure of most of the Jayhawks’ defensive front from last season.

Leipold said players like interior linemen Gage Keys (Minnesota) and Devin Phillips (Colorado State) along with edge rushers Patrick Joyner Jr. (Utah State) and Austin Booker (Minnesota) would provide “great competition and depth and people who have played in college football games and can help us get better.”

Even though the KU offensive line will return four starters from a season ago, the one player they’re losing — left tackle Earl Bostick Jr. — will be a lot to replace. KU already had former Louisville lineman Kobe Baynes in the program as a late pick-up before last season, and they added “bigger bodies” like Spencer Lovell, of Cal, and Logan Brown, of Wisconsin, to provide depth and size up front.

The idea, Leipold said was to bring in quality pieces on the line that would promote competition and also allow the coaching staff to play guys at different spots if the need or desire arises.

Of Brown, a former five-star prospect out of high school, Leipold said: “Obviously, he was a pretty highly recruited guy. When he came on his visit, a couple other guys were like, ‘Holy cow, who’s that guy?’ That’s a different looking body.”

None of it matters, of course, without the players fitting the right profile for the culture that Kansas has created in Leipold’s first two seasons. Leipold said that was a critical part of the recruiting process throughout the past year and remains so as they move forward with prospects in the class of 2024, as well.

“We’re definitely in a good position of where this program used to be as far as attrition goes,” he said. “And that’s something I’m proud of, something our staff is proud of and something we want to continue.”

Leipold said Wednesday was “a culture day” for the program and the only day of the week right now that the entire team is together. They do conditioning drills, meet together afterwards and talk about things like proper goal-setting and the importance of attention to detail and the expectations and standards Kansas football now adheres to.

For the old guys, that’s all a refresher. But for the new guys, it’s the first time that the staff gets to see how well they did on their evaluations of how those newcomers would fit into the building program.

“When they see that, there’s the first part that’s an action (and they get to) see how we go about things,” Leipold said. “But then they get in groups and talk and they get to see that. When we have as many guys that have been through that already, it’s definitely going to help. It helps with this mid-year group and we’re going to need it to happen again in June.”

Now that the new KU culture is firmly in place, Leipold said it provided people in the program with something concrete they could use to show potential Jayhawks and newcomers how things work in Lawrence.

“There’s nothing easy at this thing right now,” Leipold said. “There’ll be nothing that we’ll ever take for granted. But these guys wanted to be here. We’re getting players that probably weren’t interested in talking before, wanting to have conversations.”

Two Lawrence kids on walk-on list

KU may have had just two scholarship signees to announce on Wednesday, but there were several other preferred walk-ons who were added to the program.

Two of them came from city schools, with Lawrence High defensive tackle Lance Bassett and LHS defensive end Jaydon Brittingham, the cousin of new KU offensive lineman, Calvin Clements of Free State, electing to join the KU program next season.

Bassett and Brittingham were two of 13 PWOs announced by the Jayhawks on Wednesday. Eight of the 13 were from Kansas high schools.

The rest of the list included: Noah Barber, a cornerback from Blue Valley North; Cole Ballard, a quarterback from Westfield (Ind.) High; Dillon Mong, a tight end from Shawnee Mission East High; Carson Morgan, a running back from Bentonville (Ark.) West High; Ezra Vedral, a linebacker from Creighton Prep; TJ Crews, a quarterback from Christ Prep Academy; Grady Seyfert, a defensive tackle from Beloit High; Jack Schneider, a wideout from Blue Valley West, Hunter Luke, a wideout from Westlake (Texas) High; Isreal Moses V, a wideout from De LaSalle High in Minnesota; and Isaiah Coppage, a wideout from Bishop Miege High.

Nothing official on juco safety

Akili Hubbard, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound safety from Golden West College in California who committed to KU earlier this week after a visit to campus, remained unsigned on Wednesday.

Earlier in the week, Hubbard told JayhawkSlant.com’s Jon Kirby that he committed to KU during his visit, and that KU being the first program to offer him a scholarship carried a lot of weight.

Wednesday merely marked the first day that Division I prospects could sign with their new schools. Hubbard and countless others still have until April 1 to make their commitments official.

“Oregon State was trying to get me,” Hubbard told Kirby after his commitment. “They met with me the day before my flight to Kansas. But I am committed to Kansas and that’s where I am going.”


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