It is quite abnormal to have so much action on the recruiting scene amongst the three major area schools this early in the year, but Kansas, Kansas State, and Missouri have been very busy building their recruiting classes. Here is an update on the going goings on in football recruiting.
Joel recently posted the news of Kansas landing two football recruits over the past week to add to their now five-man recruiting class. Jacob Bragg, Rivals.com eighth-ranked center, and Andre Maloney, the fifth-ranked player in the state of Kansas each committed to KU.
The odd part of all of this? All five of KU’s commitments are high schoolers, with three of the five residing in the state of Kansas.
A few months removed from locking up a community college heavy recruiting class, Charlie Weis has managed to land some well regarded high schoolers to come to his 1-11 record program. Critics of Weis’ judo-heavy recruiting class say the method is not sustainable to build a winning program at the BCS level and Kansas would need to land higher quality high school athletes if they were really going to turn the corner long-term. It would seem Weis initial plans to solve the high school talent problem is by landing the best players who reside within the state. Only two of of the top six players in the state of Kansas – three of which are four-star players – have committed to a school, and both of them committed to KU.
How is Weis doing this? According to Jayhawk Slant’s Jon Kirby (subscription needed), NFL experience is playing big with recruits.
Last year the Jayhawks landed the top junior college class in the country. They signed more players in the National Juco Top 100 than any other school. Every single one of those players at some point said the NFL experience on the KU staff was a factor in their decision.
The NFL resumes isn’t the only thing the Kansas staff sells in recruiting. They are big on academics. Bragg said Weis reminded him of a father. They sell family atmosphere.
But those Super Bowl rings and decades of NFL experience doesn’t hurt. Last month Kansas landed a commitment from Kyron Watson, a linebacker that chose them over Michigan and several others.
This recruiting class may end up being the deciding factor in whether or not Weis can be considered a success or failure at Kansas.
KANSAS STATE WILDCATS
While K-State may not have landed a top 10 player in the state of Kansas, they have certainly made their presence known in Missouri. Two of the Wildcats top three recruits – currently a six-man class – hail from Missouri, and both rank in the state’s top 10 list according to Rivals.com. In fact, KSU has more top 10 recruits from Missouri than the University of Missouri does, 2-0.
A new approach, highlighted by The Kansas City Star’s Kellis Robinett, may explain why Kansas State is having early success landing recruits.
Snyder has long valued patience on the recruiting trail, asking his assistant coaches to recommend prospects to coordinators and then personally evaluating each player they approve before deciding on scholarship offers. Often times, he will take a player’s senior season into consideration. Seeing how a recruit develops and handles pressure as a team leader are important factors to Snyder.
That’s why the Wildcats usually have two or three commitments this time of the year.
Now, they have six. With [Elijah] Lee, Blue Springs running back Dalvin Warmack, linebacker Sam Sizelove and offensive lineman Dalton Risner all ranking in Rivals.com’s top 30 at their positions, K-State has the makings of a strong class. Even after Robert Casteneda, a three-star lineman from Round Rock, Texas, switched his commitment to Texas Tech last week.
K-State is clearly taking its new recruiting approach seriously. It has already offered close to 100 scholarships, according to Rivals.com.
Gary Pinkel has been busy.
We are not even to July but Mizzou already has 11 commitments for the 2014 recruiting class, including two well-regarded recruits in defensive backs Greg Taylor and Logan Cheadle, as well as Dorial Green-Beckham’s brother Darnell Green-Beckham.
There is a classic flavor to this recruiting class so far as it is littered with unknown two- and three-star players who may fit the pattern of off-the-radar recruits who ended up being big time players for the Tigers. It seems to be the kind of thing Pinkel has thrived on in rebuilding the MU program.
The question is whether or not it is a philosophy that can work in the SEC.
As of June 21, four of Rivals.com’s top five recruiting classes in the nation belong to SEC schools. In the all important SEC East, where Missouri resides, Kentucky (1!), Tennessee (3), Georgia (15), Florida (18), and Vanderbilt (26) all rank well ahead of Mizzou (42) nationally in early recruiting. And we can safely assume South Carolina (49) will not be finishing their class with only five commitments, three of which are four-star players.
The SEC is loaded with talent. And while there have been plenty of studies showing that not all of the top 100 players in any given recruiting class end up living to their billing, there is no denying that teams with the better recruiting classes tend to be the teams in college football.
Winning the division – or at least finishing near the top – is the clear early goal for the Missouri program. But unlike the Big 12, where Iowa State, Kansas State, Kansas, and Colorado would never potentially land a top 20 recruiting class, the “weaker” schools in the SEC can in any given year do just that. This is a factor I’m not sure Missouri fans are considering when they project the future of their football program.
The decision to play to his strengths, finding the diamonds in the rough, is a bold decision by Pinkel. Whether or not it pays off this time around is going to be interesting to watch.