The Kansas Jayhawks spring football game is just around the corner, which called for the first press conference of the spring season. With so much hype surrounding the program, here is a quick preview for the Jayhawks 2018 season and how it could impact the future of the program’s recruiting.
Last season, the Jayhawks’ defensive back position was very inexperienced, starting mainly sophomores. The secondary struggled heavily at the beginning of last season, but they eventually found their way and were able to cause issues for opposing quarterbacks.
In 2018, the defensive backs will have one more year of experience to go along with the addition of four-star recruit Corione Harris. Harris and junior Hasan Defense will likely be the starting cornerbacks, while junior Mike Lee gives support at safety. The other safety position, however, is in question. A number of players could make a run for the remaining defensive back positions.
Kansas added only one linebacker during the off-season in Kenny Bastida. The Jayhawks will have some competition for next season as to who will be the first linebackers off the bench, but the starters will mostly stay the same. Both seniors Joe Dineen and Keith Loneker will be certain starters, but the third linebacker position could be more competitive with senior Osaze Ogbebor likely getting the starting nod.
Kansas added five players along the defensive line, which could be the most competitive part of the team. The only player who locked in as starter is senior Daniel Wise, who is arguably the best player on the Jayhawks roster. However, with Wise being a defensive tackle, there is plenty of room for a new face at defensive end to slide into the starting group. Junior Najee Stevens-McKenzie, senior Josh Ehambe and junior Foster Dixson will likely be making the biggest push to play alongside Wise.
The Jayhawks only added four players along the offensive line as it will likely stay the same. The only newcomers who could make a push for a starting position will be freshmen Nick Williams and Reuben Lewis. However, every starter along the offensive line were sophomores last season, which will make it difficult for a newcomer to take one of their starting spots.
Kansas only added one true wide receiver this offseason, which could be a problem in the future. However, for now, the Jayhawks will look for their seniors to make some noise. Senior Steven Sims is the clear-cut top receiver, but who lines up by his side could be in question. Sophomore Quan Hampton, senior Ryan Schadler, junior Daylon Charlot and junior Chase Harrell could all compete for a starting spot, but each receiver has different strengths. Offensive coordinator Doug Meacham will have plenty to mull over when choosing his starting lineup.
At the running back position, Kansas has a huge problem, but it is a very good problem to have. Kansas added four-star running back Anthony Williams, who will make a big push for the starting position. However, the explosiveness and experience of junior Khalil Herbert could earn him the nod going into the season. Either way, both backs will receive plenty of playing time and give head coach David Beaty an alternative when the passing game is not working.
Lastly, the biggest question mark on the team — who will be the quarterback next season? Kansas added two quarterbacks in the offseason, but neither are likely to make a push for the starting position. Which means the Jayhawks will face the exact same question they faced last season, will junior Carter Stanley or senior Peyton Bender be the starter? Not even Beaty has the answer to this question, but with more competition, one of the two players could finally make a push to prove they are the better quarterback. Either way, neither quarterback is good enough to push Kansas back into the race for the Big 12 Title, which is the primary goal for the future of the football program.
Nobody expects the Jayhawks to be a good team next season, but if there isn’t at least improvement over the 2017 season, Beaty would likely be out the door and the Jayhawks could once again lose high-end recruits. Kansas is trying to recruit more top-tier talent for the 2019 season, but another abysmal season could lead recruits out the door.
If the Jayhawks want to improve their recruiting, they will need to win games. As previously stated, nobody expects Kansas to be good, but if they once again fail to amass even two wins, their chase of top-notch recruits could end before it even truly begins. The Jayhawks have a lot at stake in 2018, but if things pan out, in just a few years they could potentially be in the race for the Big 12 Title.