The Kansas football program lost a possible starting running back, receiver and linebacker on Tuesday.
Sophomore running back Corey Avery and senior receiver Rodriguez Coleman were each dismissed from the program for a “violation of team rules,” KU coach David Beaty announced in a release.
Senior linebacker Jake Love is also leaving the program for medical reasons, announcing his retirement from football.
Stating the obvious: For a team and first-year coach facing serious depth issues, this was not welcome news.
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Avery, a former three-star recruit from Dallas, led the Jayhawks with 631 rushing yards in 151 carries in 2014. He also hauled in 18 receptions, which would have made him Kansas’ leading returning receiver this season.
Coleman, a former junior-college transfer, caught just three passes in 2014, but he was a rare veteran receiver in a thin and inexperienced receiving corps. Standing 6 feet 3 and 190 pounds, Coleman projected a potential deep threat on a team with few reliable targets. His time at Kansas, though, was marred by suspensions and spotty playing time.
According to the office of the KU Registrar, neither Avery or Coleman enrolled at KU this summer. Both players were suspended for the spring game in late April. At that time, Beaty remained vague when asked to elaborate on their suspensions.
“Their future is uncertain,” Beaty said then.
The departures further deplete a roster that has been decimated by transfers, injuries and short-sighted recruiting practices during the Charlie Weis era. After the Jayhawks loaded up on junior-college players in the 2013 and 2014 recruiting classes, Beaty has been left to clean up a roster situation that could hamstring KU in 2015.
Avery was projected to be one of just four returning starters on offense, a list that included quarterback Michael Cummings, who suffered a knee injury in the spring game that required surgery.
A graduate of Dallas Carter High School, Avery was a late coup in the 2014 recruiting class, picking Kansas after receiving interest from schools such as Ohio State, Nebraska, and at one point, Texas.
He was thrust into a starting role in 2014 after preseason injuries to running backs Brandon Bourbon and Taylor Cox. Bourbon has since moved on to Washburn for his final season, while Cox was granted a sixth-year of eligibility by the NCAA.
Cox will join senior De’Andre Mann and juco tranfer Ke’aun Kinner as the main candidates to earn playing time in the backfield.
Coleman, meanwhile, arrived at Kansas in 2013 after racking up 70 catches for 1,055 yards while playing at Garden City Community College in 2012. A native of Cincinnati, Coleman originally signed with Cincinnati out of high school but was forced to attend junior college for academic reasons.
Coleman was arrested last December on a charge of battery after being involved in a late-night incident at a Lawrence bar that also included KU basketball player Jamari Traylor being arrested on a charge of “interfering with the duties of a police officer.” Coleman, though, remained with the program until spring practice, and it’s not clear what role the incident played in Coleman’s departure.
Love, meanwhile, played in 35 games for Kansas, starting 19 at linebacker and finishing with 147 tackles in his career.
In a prepared statement, Love thanked former KU coach Turner Gill for giving him an opportunity to play at KU.
“I have met so many amazing people on this journey and consider many of them family. Unfortunately, I have been advised not to play football anymore due to medical reasons,” Love said. “I am thankful that KU has given me the option to start working on my master’s degree in the fall and it’s something I look forward to.”
Beaty said Kansas would miss Love’s “leadership and tenacity” on the field.
“We will also miss having a guy out there with the experience he has playing in the Big 12,” Beaty said. “With that said, nothing is more important than his health and him being able to have a long, productive future outside of football. I am really happy he got his degree and we wish him the best as he moves forward.”
Beaty also announced that incoming signee Shola Ayinde, a cornerback, did not report to campus and will be delaying his enrollment.