KU's Weis reels in 10 juco players

12/21/2012

KU's Weis reels in 10 juco players

KU's Weis reels in 10 juco players

From Staff and

Wire Reports

The University of Kansas football program has released the names of 10 junior college transfer players who have signed national letters of intent to play for the Jayhawks and coach Charlie Weis in 2013.

The group includes four defensive linemen, two offensive linemen, two defensive backs and a punter/kicker.

Those announced on Wednesday were Cassius Sendish (6-2, 185, DB) of Waldorf, Md., via Arizona Western College; Ty McKinney (6-3, 310, DL), Weatherford, Texas, via Trinity Valley C.C.; Michael Smithburg, (6-3, 300, OL) Fairfield, Iowa, via Iowa Western C.C.; Trevor Pardula (6-5, 210, P/K) San Jose, Calif., via De Anza College; Marquel Combs (6-3, 310, DL) Memphis, Tenn., via Pierce College, Calif.; Tedarian Johnson (6-3, 260, DL) Jackson, Miss., via Hinds C.C.; Dexter McDonald (6-1, 205, DB) Kansas City, Mo., via Butler College; Chris Martin (6-4, 260, DL) Oakland, Calif., via C.C. of San Francisco; Zach Fondal, (6-5, 290, OL), Pasadena, Texas via Navarro College, Texas.; and Ngalu Fusimalohi (6-3, 300, OL) Daly City, Calif., via C.C. of San Francisco.

Combs has been mentioned as one of the top defensive linemen to come out of the junior college ranks this season. McDonald played at KU in 2010 and 2011 before going to Butler to work on his academic standing.

All signings arrived and were confirmed by the KU football office between 8:39 a.m. and 2:33 p.m. on Wednesday.

Garden City Community College wide receiver Rod Coleman verbally committed to the Jayhawks within the past week and is expected to sign his letter in early February.

The Jayhawks earlier had received several other verbal commitments from junior college players, but as of mid-evening Wednesday, KU had not received their faxed letters of intent. It has been reported that as many as four to six more additional junior college recruits will sign with the Jayhawks during the February signing period.

On Thursday, Weis, who was hired to replace Turner Gill after two disastrous seasons in 2010 and 2011, conducted a press conference in Lawrence on Thursday to discuss his junior college talent haul.

"We kind of got into a very unique situation that no one could've expected, even us," said Weis. "I'd like to sit there and say we had it all nailed down, but we got into one of those unique perspectives where we challenged a lot of these guys to come and be a part of the reason why we went from 1-11 to whatever."

Several recruiting organizations have the current class ranked as high as 32nd and fifth in the Big 12 conference.

"To me, you have two seasons," Weis said Thursday. "You have the football season and then you have the recruiting season. And if you don't treat the recruiting season just as important, then you're never going to win on players."

In the past couple of weeks — a period of time in which Weis indicated there were "a couple of miserable days" — the Jayhawks picked up a pair of four-star prospects and filled in around them. There's a reason seven of the 10 mid-year transfers are linemen. And Weis spelled it out Thursday, in explicit language.

"I don't think we're good enough," he said. "If you don't have offensive and defensive linemen, it doesn't make a difference what else you have. If you don't have those guys, you can have the greatest skill guys in the world, but if the offensive line can't block, guess what, it's not going to make a difference."

Two of the most high-profile members of the group play on the defensive line, and Weis said their mere presence would give KU a chance to improve its woeful pass rush from 2012.

Pierce Community College (Calif.) defensive tackle Combs was ranked as the top junior-college prospect in the country by ESPN, and Weis said landing Combs was critical in putting together the rest of the group, which included four-star defensive end Martin of City College of San Francisco.

"I was in his face," Weis said of his visit with Combs. "I basically said, 'Are you afraid?' And that was right up his alley. He accepted the challenge and once he jumped on board, there were a lot of other people saying, 'Well if he's coming, let's go.' I think it really had a positive snowballing effect."

With Combs committed, the rest fell into place quickly. Last week alone, KU picked up 10 oral commitments and six of them signed Wednesday. The others are expected to graduate in May and report to the KU campus in June.

The class, led by Combs, has adopted a slogan of "Dream Team 2013," which speaks to the mindset of the newcomers. Weis said he did not anticipate their confidence dividing the roster. For one, he said the newcomers and current players got along great on the various visits.

"They're like long lost best friends and they haven't even been teammates yet," Weis said.

Weis also believes that bringing in more talent will motivate the returning players to work harder to hold their spots.

"If they can't read the writing on the wall, they're not very intelligent," Weis said. "That should drive them. The competition is totally different. It doesn't make any difference what position you play; the competition has now changed. It's not the same. And, if you don't get better in a hurry, you'll never play."

That's really what trying to make the Jayhawks into a winner is all about. That's the reason Weis is never happy with solid efforts and does not believe in moral victories. It's why he's willing to play anyone on his roster at any time as long as he thinks that gives his teams the best chance to succeed. A 1-11 first-year record will get your attention, and that's why he hit the junior-college ranks as hard as he did this offseason, with 10 already signed and perhaps as many as 10 more coming in February.

"I want guys that can play, and I want to blend them with high school guys that want to play at Kansas," Weis said. "You know what? You take that formula right there and we'll have a chance to really get this right."

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