KU makes top 3 for two-sport standout Keon Coleman

photo by: Journal-World illustration

University of Kansas football recruiting

The Kansas football program made the latest cut for three-star wide receiver Keon Coleman — and if he becomes a Jayhawk, he might play at Allen Fieldhouse as well as on the football field.

The 6-foot-4, 188-pound playmaker from Opelousas Catholic in Louisiana announced his final three on Twitter early Monday afternoon: KU, Oklahoma and South Carolina. Coleman dropped Florida State, Michigan State and Mississippi State from his top six.

Ranked by Rivals as the 72nd-best wide receiver in the nation and the 12th-best player in his state in the 2021 recruiting class, Coleman is worth watching for more than one reason — there have been rumors that he wants to play both football and basketball at the college level.

A little more than three weeks ago, Coleman told Jon Kirby of JayhawkSlant.com that Kansas basketball coach Bill Self had joined in on a football recruiting call to talk to Coleman about his game.

“It was a Zoom virtual visit,” Coleman told Kirby. “Then the coaches said Bill Self wanted to join and make it like a two-for-one call. I was like, ‘Whoa.’ We started talking and it went from there.

“It was the first time I talked to Coach Self. He told me I do a lot of things you can’t really teach. He said I’m a fast-twitch player and said I was quick.”

Last season, as a junior, Coleman caught 35 passes for 1,200 yards and a whopping 22 touchdowns. He also averaged more than 20 points per game for the Opelousas Catholic basketball team.

According to Rivals.com basketball recruiting analyst Corey Evans, Coleman has the necessary length and size to play on the wing and could be “valued for his defensive prowess and athleticism all the way up to the high-major realm.”

Wide receivers coach Emmett Jones has been the lead recruiter for the Jayhawks on the football side, and head coach Les Miles has been heavily involved, as well. But pulling someone like Self into the mix certainly doesn’t hurt KU’s chances, and Coleman told Kirby that Self’s appearance during his virtual visit showed him that Kansas was serious about letting him play both basketball and football.

Though it’s rare, it’s not unprecedented at Kansas for an athlete to play multiple sports. A couple of years ago, Self added KU football tight end James Sosinski to the basketball roster to help KU fill out its stable of big men during the run to the 2018 Final Four. And several years before that, Self encouraged former KU walk-on Conner Teahan to see if his quarterbacking skills would transfer to the Division I level during spring football practice under Turner Gill. Teahan, who appeared in the spring game that season, eventually threw in the towel on the idea and returned to help lead the Jayhawks to the 2012 Final Four.

Going further back, Mario Kinsey once played guard for Roy Williams and quarterback for Terry Allen, and Isaac Byrd was a standout wide receiver under Glen Mason and also a centerfielder with the KU baseball team.

It remains to be seen whether Coleman will join that list, or, if he does, whether he’ll make enough of an impact in both sports to be remembered for it. But even if he just pans out in football, a player with OU and South Carolina as his other finalists would be a big boost for Kansas.