Before Kansas can turn the corner on its football program it has to reach the corner, see it in the distance.
David Beaty believes it’s in sight as he introduced the Jayhawks’ 2016 football recruiting class.
“You can accept the way things are or you can work to change them, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Beaty said. “Everybody is making sure we stay on the beaten path to get right where we need to be.”
That begins with a victory. Kansas didn’t get one last year, finishing 0-12. The class unveiled on Wednesday includes players who will help the Jayhawks immediately.
Beaty ran down the profiles of 20 newcomers, including several who are have already enrolled as transfers. A pair of defensive tackles stands out.
Isi Holani, originally from Hawaii, transferred from Riverside (Calif.) Community College. Beaty said former Kansas standout Chris Maumalanga helped steer Holani to Kansas.
DeeIsaac Davis, a Wichita product, arrived from Highland Community College.
“(Holani) and DeeIsaac have been fun to watch,” Beaty said. “You usually don’t see guys come in in shape and do what they’ve done. I’ve been impressed with these guys.”
Freshmen and Texans make up the bulk of the class, with 12 from the Lone Star State listed in the class. The highest rated by Rivals.com are three-star prospects Chris Hughes, an offensive lineman from Harker Heights, Texas, and Maciah Long, a linebacker from Houston.
The Jayhawks have to replenish the roster. They played with a scholarship count in the low 60s last season, mostly the product of a failed junior-college approach by former coach Charlie Weis.
“We had a lot of needs coming into this class,” Beaty said. “We continue to address those needs even when we have some challenging issues with the numbers that we have presented to us.”
The Jayhawks announced two quarterback signees, Tyriek Starks of New Orleans and Dagan Haehn of Corinth, Texas. Ryan Willis and Montell Cozart, who combined to make 11 of 12 starters, return, but Beaty said the competition is on.
“We are going to be in a continual evaluation phase here,” Beaty said. “The good news is, I mean, those guys, most of those guys, are athletic to do anything they can. If they're good enough players to help us, they're not going to be standing by me.”
The Jayhawks didn’t have much luck in state, signing two from Kansas. Besides Davis, defensive back Bryce Torneden of Free State High in Lawrence joined the program.
“It wasn’t for lack of trying,” Beaty said. “We worked our tails off at it with a bunch of guys in state. You know what, didn't work out. I'll tell you this, we were in it with a lot of guys. I think we made guys take pause and think that probably normally wouldn't have. That's a step forward. Particularly given the challenges that we had last year.”
Kansas’ 2016 football signings
George Ranch HS (Richmond, Texas)
Summer Creek HS (Humble, Texas)
Lake Dallas HS (Corinth, Texas)
Fort Bend Hightower HS (Fresno, Texas)
Highland CC (Wichita)
Houston Christian HS (Sugar Land, Texas)
Foster HS (Fulshear, Texas)
Hargrave HS (Huffman, Texas)
Lake Dallas HS (Corinth, Texas)
Aledo (Texas) HS
American Heritage HS (Tamarac, Fla.)
Riverside CC (Hilo, Hawaii)
Harker Heights (Texas) HS
Cabell Midland HS (Huntington, W.Va.)
North Shore HS (Houston)
Booker T. Washington HS (Sperry, Okla.)
Cedar Ridge HS (Round Rock, Texas)
NE Oklahoma A&M (Old, Okla.)
Warren Eastern Senior HS (New Orleans)
Lawrence Free State HS