In an effort to better understand how the rest of the Big 12 performed according to people who actually follow the team instead of ranking players based on stars, we have sent out a few emails to our fellow Big 12 bloggers on SBNation to answer a few questions about their class. Rock Chalk Talk, the Kansas Jayhawk blog and our friend, Denver Jayhawk, will lead off the review. Thanks to Denver Jayhawk for answering a few questions of ours. Of interesting note, Kansas got a CU recruit by the name of Bradley McDougald. You know, one of those supposed "silent commits." I am pretty sure that the Buffs went 0fer on silent commits this year.
Rock Chalk Talk (RCT): A little homerish maybe, but Kansas will never be on the same level recruiting wise as the big guys. However the staff this year did an absolutely fantastic job of capitalizing on our recent success and improving our position in recruiting. Three things standout for me this year. First, there is a quantifiable difference in the caliber of player Mangino and the staff brought in this year than he did in his first few years with the program when we were truly scraping the bottom of the barrel. Secondly, they did a great job in terms of addressing immediate needs and laying the foundation for future success. Finally, they identified targets, gained commitments and kept commitments. We had zero negative surprises on signing day. We expected 24 guys and by 10am CST all 24 LOI's were in hand and it was nice to avoid the drama of NSD.
TRR: What were some of the major needs this year and did your coaches' adequately address them?
RCT: Defensive line and secondary. Our pass rush really hurt us this past year and was a priority with this class. With the addition of 5 guys (3HS, 2JC) the staff did address both the immediate need and longterm depth. In the secondary we will be turning over some guys after 2009 so bringing in future talent and building depth here was important as well. Kansas added 7 in this area (2 JC, 5 HS) and one of the bigger pickups in the class in Prinz Kande out of Trinity HS in Texas. He was a 4 star safety on the top HS team in the country at one time this year so there is a lot of excitement surrounding him.
TRR: Who are the three prospects that we all should know about? Are their any players that you feel have a chance to play from Day 1 and contribute?
RCT: Bradley McDougald - Early in the process Bradley was committed to Ohio State. Some of the field issues led to a parting of ways in that relationship and Kansas stepped in beating out Colorado, Michigan State and Wisconsin for McDougald. He's expecting to play the slot reciever role at Kansas and could contribute from day one but we are fairly deep in that area.
Prinz Kande - Mentioned him in the last section, but he comes from a stellar football school down in Texas and is a prime example of the elevated level of player looking at Kansas.
Chris Omigie - Arlington Texas receiver and rated one of the top 5 receivers in the entire 2009 class by rivals. Again, Receiver is a position of depth for us right now so he might not see the field right away, but at 6'6" he is a huge target for the future.
One other player that could contribute right away. Toben Opurum a 4-Star RB out of Plano Texas is 6'2" 230 lbs and has been playing in a spread style offense all through HS so he is both physically and mentally prepared in my mind.
TRR: We all had a couple players that got away that we really wanted. Who were those players and what attributes made those players hard to lose?
RCT: Honestly in the end we didn't have any last minute drama. There was a linebacker, Shane Gordon from Florida that we tried to get in on late but he was committed to Pitt and remained that way. Also a couple other JUCO D-ends that we were looking at but qualifying concerns led the staff in a different direction. One signed with Fresno State and the other I don't believe is headed anywhere.
I guess if I had to point to one it would be a guy we lost fairly early on. Earnest Norman a teammate of Prinz Kande committed to Kansas and was a linebacker we could have used but he decommitted to go to Nebraska and then as of about a month ago his offer was pulled by Pelini so he is actually headed to Portland State. Kind of a sad story actually, he was a good kid, still had some growing up to do but could have played Big 12 football.
TRR: Who is the guy that no one is really talking about or not as much but you feel will be a sleeper when his career is said and done? What are the reasons?
RCT: I guess I kind of spoiled this one up top with Omigie but I can come up with another one. Riley Spencer an offensive tackle signee out of Hesston Kansas is one that a lot of folks think could be a good one down the line. He started out his HS season at 6'6" 255-260 and has since worked his way up to 290. He's got a great frame, good feet and just needs some better coaching to really maximize his potential. He expects to play at 320 and should have no problem reaching that.
TRR: I know it's early, but what are the biggest needs to be filled with the 2010 recruiting class?
RCT: Linebacker will be a big need for the 2010 class. Honestly it was a need this year as well but we didn't entirely address it so I expect that to be a focus next year. With all the spread offenses exploding in the Big 12 you can never have enough speedy LB's to help out.