Football December recruiting period ends for Weis
- Dec. 20, 2012
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Kansas coach Charlie Weis likes to throw around the names of his mentors and predecessors. Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, to name a few, but now he can tack on another: Ara Parseghian.
Before the legendary coach went on to win two National Championships at Notre Dame, Parseghian faltered early in his time at Northwestern. Specifically, in 1957 he went 0-9 in his second year with the Wildcats.
Considering Weis emerged victorious in one game during his inaugural season as the Jayhawks’ coach, you could even say he’s in a better spot than Parseghain was.
But Parseghain didn’t waver, he had a plan and stuck to it. After his winless season, no coaches were fired and no single person was faulted.
The losses not withstanding, it’s all a part of Weis’ plan to turn Kansas into a winner.
Weis’ plan kicked into full gear hours after the Jayhawks ended a dreary season on the wrong end of a blowout in West Virginia. By using the same formula as the successful Kansas State Wildcats, Weis set out to sign the best junior college recruits he could find.
So far, he has.
“This isn’t 18-year-old kids you’re bringing in here,” Weis said. “These are 21-year-old guys that have been around for a while. It gives you a lot better chance to get an honest evaluation of what you’re getting walking in the door.”
Walking through the door will be defensive tackle Marquel Combs — ESPN.com’s number one JUCO prospect — and defensive lineman Chris Martin. Both are four-star players as ranked by Rivals.com.
Yet Combs has already been productive in his short time as a committed Jayhawk, spawning all sorts of aspirations for the 2013 Kansas team — using the hashtag #DreamTeam2013 on Twitter — and helping recruit other players to Lawrence.
Essentially, he’s doing Weis’ work for him.
“In that young man’s case I might let him continue recruiting through February because he’s done such a good job,” Weis said. “I don’t think I’ll put the clamps on him for a little while, but trust me, I’ve already informed him to enjoy his time now.”
Yet the powerful backfield of James Sims and Tony Pierson is becoming just as valuable off the field as Combs.
“With some of these guys who have jumped on board that’s the one thing they’ve noticed,” Weis said of his recruits’ view on the Kansas running backs. “Then of course I can sarcastically say to them ‘Now can you pass block?’”
That pass blocking will be even more critical in 2013 as quarterback Jake Heaps’ eligibility will be restored after sitting out a year for transferring from BYU.
Heaps passed for 3,768 yards and 24 touchdowns in his two years at Brigham Young. By comparison, Dayne Crist had 2,327 yards and 16 touchdowns in parts of three seasons at Notre Dame before becoming a Jayhawk.
“He basically is the show-team player of the week every week,” Weis said. “The defensive staff will be delighted not to see any more Jake Heaps.”
Of course, there is plenty of concern when bringing in junior college athletes — keeping in mind there are various reason they aren’t already at a major program — but that doesn’t seem to faze Weis.
If it can work for Bill Snyder at Kansas State, surely the Jayhawks’ will be able to win the same way. But there’s a greater reason Weis is taking the JUCO route in recruiting. He doesn’t always trust younger prospects.
“A lot of high school kids that you’re bringing in are purely projections,” Weis said. “There’s been guys rated as five-stars that have fizzled. That doesn’t happen nearly as much with these guys you’re bringing in.”
Like any plan there will be unforeseen problems that lie ahead, just ask Parseghian. But as Weis’ said when he was introduced at Kansas, after his five-year contract with the Jayhawks is up, his career is over.
Bringing in JUCO transfers isn’t just about getting some Band-Aids. It’s about winning at Kansas as soon as possible.
“I’m too old to wait four years for guys to develop,” Weis said.