Offensive lineman Pearce Slater was one of Kansas’ biggest junior college recruiting coups this past offseason — and not just because Slater is a 6-foot-8, 340-pound offensive tackle.
Slater committed to Kansas in early July, and after playing his redshirt freshman season at El Camino (Calif.) Community College in 2012, the KU coaching staff discovered he would have three years of eligibility remaining.
But on Friday morning, coach Charlie Weis said he was unsure “if and when” Slater would return to the Kansas program after he left campus last Saturday. Slater, who was a late arrival to camp, spent nearly a week at KU, taking part in multiple practices, before returning home for what KU termed a “family medical emergency.”
According to Weis, Slater came to him last Saturday, the morning of KU’s open scrimmage, and informed him of a family situation back in California. Weis suggested he return home and stay in contact with the KU staff, but after a few days, the communication lines became fuzzy.
Weis said he was hopeful Slater would return to KU by Friday night, because the Jayhawks’ photo day is on Saturday. But more importantly, Weis said, he told Slater that it would be best if he returned on Sunday before the start of fall classes on Monday.
“As of right now, I have no idea if and when he’ll get here,” Weis said. “I have texted him again this morning, reiterating those things that I just told you. I have not heard from him, and I’m just taking him for his word and it is what it is. When I know something, you’ll know something.”
To add some intrigue to the situation, rumors popped up early in the week that Slater was enrolled at Oklahoma and possibly considering a jump to the Sooners. But sources close to the Oklahoma program quickly debunked that rumor to the Oklahoman newspaper.
It’s highly likely that defensive end Andrew Bolton, a junior-college transfer, will redshirt this fall, Weis said Friday. Bolton suffered a season-ending knee injury last fall and is still working back from the injury. In addition, Weis would like to stagger some of his junior-college class so that KU doesn’t face a mass exodus of seniors in two years.
“I’m gonna do everything I can to redshirt him,” Weis said of Bolton. “I’ve already had the conversation. I wouldn’t say he’s 100 percent anyway. He’s over a year out from his knee. Ideally, you can’t bring in this many junior-college kids and play them all and have them all graduate at the same time the next year, because then you’re scrambling for numbers."