Change of plans: Looking back at 11 Class of 2018 prospects who decommitted from KU football

Kansas University football recruiting

In the sphere of college football recruiting, assigning programs and their coaches credit for landing verbal commitments from prospects can prove dicey, due to the potentially temporary nature of a player’s non-binding words.

At its peak this past February, the Class of 2018 for Kansas reached an unprecedented level, ascending into the top 10 nationally according to Rivals. The perception of the Jayhawks’ haul dropped in the months that followed, of course, as KU lost some commitments and other programs added to their hauls.

The projected success for each FBS team’s list of recruits became more concrete in December, thanks to the NCAA’s new early signing period, when pledges became final for players who penned their signatures to official paperwork.

As of Friday, Rivals ranks KU’s class, which includes 14 signees and two verbal commits, 61st in the nation.

The ability to move up or down somewhat within the rankings remains until signing classes become complete in February. Still, KU almost certainly will finish nowhere near where it began in the rankings.

Dreams of competing with college football’s juggernauts on the recruiting front perished as decommitments trickled in, following a memorable junior day for the Jayhawks more than 10 months ago, when six high school players — now all considered three- or four-star talents — stated their intentions to eventually join Kansas.

As it turned out, just two commitments made that day withstood the tests of time and scrutiny. Three-star running back Anthony “Pooka” Williams and four-star cornerback Corione Harris both followed through and signed.

More pledges and some reconsiderations would follow as head coach David Beaty and his staff attempted to assemble the best class of recruits they could. Here’s a look at what has become of the 11 players who decommitted from Kansas over the past several months — a list that also makes one consider what might have been had they all been convinced to follow through on their preliminary plans.

Ja’Marr Chase: Attached to KU for all of eight days this past February, the four-star receiver from Metairie, La., remains undecided. Ranked the No. 62 prospect in the nation according to Rivals, Chase reportedly has offers from numerous high-profile programs, including LSU, Michigan and TCU.

Aaron Brule: Upgraded to four-star status in the time since his June de-commitment from Kansas, the safety and Rummel High teammate of Chase would move on by committing to Georgia. However, Brule didn’t sign earlier this month, and then decommitted. He has offers from several Power Five programs and recently visited TCU.

Nelson Jenkins: The sixth so-called “Louisianimal” to commit to KU this past February, the three-star defensive tackle from Plaquemine, La., changed his mind less than two weeks later, announcing he had flipped to LSU. Jenkins signed with the Tigers this month.

Devonta Jason: The biggest name ever associated with KU’s recruiting class, the four-star wideout and Landry-Walker High teammate of Harris didn’t officially withdraw from the group until Dec. 10, when he decommitted. Ten days later, Jason, the 31st-best prospect in the nation per Rivals, signed with Mississippi State.

Cartez Crook-Jones: The three-star defensive end from Grandview, Mo., stuck with Kansas for 10 months. However, following a December visit to rival Kansas State, Crook-Jones found a different college home, and soon after signed with the Wildcats.

Clayton Tune: The quarterback from Texas picked KU on the same day as the vaunted “Louisianimals” and didn’t waver until he visited Baylor on the same Saturday in October that KU’s offense looked feeble at TCU. Tune decommitted that night. Incredibly, he recommitted to Kansas in late November only to back off once again. Now rated a three-star QB, the undecided Tune has picked up offers from Ole Miss, Florida Atlantic and Houston.

Trevailance Hunt: A former high school teammate of Kansas receiver Quan Hampton, in Texarkana, Texas, Hunt hopped on board with the Jayhawks after attending the spring game. The three-star receiver abandoned ship in late July after picking up more offers, and signed with TCU earlier this month.

Zach Burks: After making an official visit to Ohio the first weekend of December, the former Olathe North defensive tackle announced he wouldn’t stick with KU. The three-star Coffeyville Community College lineman signed with Ohio.

Josh Smith: A June addition to KU’s list of potential signees, the Landry-Walker teammate of Harris and Jason lasted until December. After re-opening his recruitment the three-star defensive end didn’t make an early signing. Smith has since indicated he plans to sign with Tulane in February, though.

Jonathan Lolohea: A three-star defensive tackle at Copiah-Lincoln Community College (Miss.), Lolohea committed in the summer but was out of the mix two weeks into the Jayhawks’ 2017 season. The interior defensive lineman signed with Washington State.

Charles Cameron: A CLCC teammate of Lolohea, who actually committed to KU on the same June day as both Lolohea and Smith, Cameron and his fellow juco defensive tackle backed out on the same day in September. Cameron went on to sign with Lane Kiffin and Florida Atlantic.

Comments

Bryson Stricker

Good article Benton!

Since we are in such a dead time. Is there any way you could ask us the people what stuff we'd like to see? I know you guys have your own ideas and do a pretty good job of it but having followed your blog for awhile, there are some articles that never get released that I think would be cool.

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Brett McCabe

61st is too high of a ranking for this class. Rivals overrates JUCO players pretty regularly. This is a catastrophically bad recruiting job which will set us back significantly as a program.

Beaty wasted valuable time and energy recruiting kids who were out of reach. His focus should have been on solid 2-3 star recruits who would sign and who could grow.

Beaty’s refusal to face the music after this debacle tells us all what we already knew.

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Kevin Robert Fest

I don't agree Brett, do you think if they actually made a bowl game and were competitive don't you think some, most might have committed? It's the product and the perception of the program not that they overreached. I truly believe if KU was at least as competitive as IST most would have signed. But with games like TCU and IST and the other blowouts, who could blame these kids.

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Brett McCabe

Exactly my point. If anyone in this program thought that they had any chance of going to a bowl, then they need to have their prescriptions adjusted. This is just another version of not knowing what you are doing as a head coach. If he can't honestly evaluate where his team is, then every decision he makes is going to be an error.

No one, absolutely no one around this program thought a bowl game was a remote possibility. The minute I heard him say that, I knew we were in deep trouble.

Just more examples of why and how the program is swirling around the drain.

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Kevin Robert Fest

No my point being is that if KU was actually competitive l think that a lot of the 11 recruits might have come. Not taking into account Beatys delusional statement about a bowl game.

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Bryson Stricker

THIS is that good sh**. You actually just said something factual robert :').

I think a bigger thing is too that the recruiting cycle works in waves. Come end of January/Beginning of February, teams start shifting towards 2019 recruiting and obviously teams go for the best talent they think they can get initially. If you look at these kids who had committed to Kansas, they were in the upper tier but either didn't have a lot of offers yet or weren't being swooned and I think they used committing to Kansas before "their turn" in the recruiting cycle as leverage. It got them the attention they wanted before it was "their turn" and probably got them offers they may have never gotten or at least the attention they wouldn't have.

Hope the best for all of these kids. I really hope some of you actually follow recruiting . *247sports is the best for sure* We still have some decent tier HS prospects with us in their top 5.

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Jim Stauffer

Baloney Brett! Just some more hate for this staff. You have facts to say they failed in coaching the players they had, but the facts fly in the face of this your latest charge. They won 1 stinking game and still went out and got good solid talent for the next few years.
This staff wins some games and you will finally learn one thing about them. They are the best recruiters this school has ever had.

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Mike Hart

At least it shouldn't impact you, Brett. You're done with KU football remember? This is you on here late November: "I've notified my ticket sales guy that we won't be renewing next year and wished him luck. Really sad for me because it's the day I've said that enough is enough. I'm done."

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Kevin Robert Fest

Let's just call this the "What could have been" article.

Sadly if the team was even remotely competitive how many might have stayed true to their verbal?

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Brett McCabe

And, if I'd bought the winning lottery ticket....

Bill Snyder famously quit recruiting high-level recruits because they'd never pull the trigger. And that was with a perennial bowl-bound team with one of the top coaches in America. If Beaty was delusional enough to think he was reaching those heights, they I'm more concerned than I ever was.

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Bryson Stricker

True point Brett.

But recruiting to Manhattan, KS is MILES harder than Lawrence, KS, I assure you. Thus he has adapted to the whole small town "family" BS they try to pretend they have and thats why he continues to be successful.

KU worships athletics unlike a lot of schools outside SEC (even some b12 schools don't). Everyone knows who the athletes are, we are within a good distance of several major cities, our football program pays out the highest stipend in FBS football and we have really nice programs for student athletes in terms of advising, fun stuff they get to do.. etc.

I'd go out on a limb, program success aside and say we are a top 20 landing spot for football recruits, ESPECIALLY with the new stadium renovations announced and the sorts. The biggest matter is overcoming that we are AWFUL, our culture isn't near what it needs to be and that there is a stigma we only care about basketball.

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Kevin Robert Fest

I firmly believe that if KU was remotely competitive that most of the players who decomitted would have come or at least more hs kids would have been interested instead of going the Juco route like Beaty was forced to.

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Mike Hart

Appears to me Bill Snyder had "famously" offered scholarships to one 5 star QB (top rated in country) and THIRTY FOUR, 4-star recruits in 2017 and TWENTY THREE, 4 star players for 2018, including 3 top 10 QBs in the nation and the #1 LB out of Texas. Doesn't seem to me like he famously quit recruiting high-level recruits??

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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David Dunlap

Lots of recruits de-commit from their initial commitment all over the country. Does anyone know the average number of de-commits for an NCAA or Big 12 football program?

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Bryson Stricker

247 sports has a feed for that, I'd say around 10. A big mix of that is top tier schools who can pick and choose who they want to come, rescind scholarships quite often or basically tell the kid: "we can see you playing as a senior".. etc if they end up getting a better kid or not liking him in the long run

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Kevin Robert Fest

This was a one and done. Once in a lifetime chance to get actual game changing talent to come to KU. If Beaty actually showed some progress maybe just maybe some, most, all of the LA kids might have come, with Hull and the other LA kids on the team this could have set up the program for years to come. Just another wasted opportunity. No way he gets that much LA talent to commit to KU next year. The curtain has been pulled back.

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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John Joseph Gorski

I don't know why people are still getting worked up about Beaty, not like he's going to be here in 12 months!!!

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Jeff Coffman

I thought going 1-11 would have ended his coaching career at KU. If Gordo doesn't get rid of Zinger, there is no incentive for Beatty to win. He could go 0-12 and retain his job.

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Jeff Coffman

This article reinforces how disconnected Zinger is to the football program. zinger's lone thread to his statement of the retention of Beatty as coach was how the recruiting class was shaping up. Nobody expected most of these to stay. All those that think bigger programs broke this recruiting class look, Ohio, Tulane, and Florida Atlantic. Many are in line to sign with Houston or other non p5 schools.

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Austin Bergstrom

De-committing has been going on forever in college football. Everyone is acting like this is some new unforeseen dilema. Why waste time worrying about who is coming or might come until they sign on the dotted line. They are !8 year old kids w/ coaches telling them exactly what they want to hear. Doesn't really matter who comes if you don't know what to do w/ them once they get here anyways.

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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David A. Smith

I've never seen this many takes on the same tired narrative.

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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John Fitzgerald

KU could have signed 25 five star recruits or 25 one star recruits, either way I’d still predict 0-12 next season. I’m praying I eat crow like a mo-fo though.

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Ashwin Rao

This is a great analysis, but I am quite happy with the recruits that we ended up with. Would love to get a 'real' QB between now and start of the season, and some solid OL to help him to make it even better.

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Lance Meier

Excellent points, a QB and OL. Much needed, need a QB that'll B in KU uniform for more then 1/2 yrs, gotta get some continuity going in 2/3/4 year players, guys that'll be in town for their whole career.

11 months, 1 week ago

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Humpy Helsel

So what happened to the "low lights" of the 2017 football season article? Seemed like it went up and then came back down pretty fast. Hmm.... You've got it in for the program, Tom. And I can't blame you. I was looking for the story so I could add some items. As you know there are others like recruiting a kid from Lawrence to play for the Wildcats. That's pretty low. So what do we bat on juco players who make it to the field and contribute over the past 8 years? Maybe 50%. And that may be generous. I watch all types of programs lifted out of the depths of despair and somehow Kansas can't seem to figure it out. Like Iowa State! It is embarrassing. Imagine if we had a so so basketball program. Once again, let's hope the league change fever doesn't fire up right now. Our football program is a severe liability with the basketball team as our saving grace if it happens. I bet it is tough on you guys when you have to have a beer with your peers from other teams during football season. You must either start yawning and looking at your watch while mentioning your wake up call time, or you just start ordering up shots to go along with your beer.

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Barry Weiss

no real surprise here after the season Beaty had. everyone, including some of these kids bought in to Beaty's bowl hype. Once he proceeded to lay the biggest egg is side of the Mississippi, recruits decided playing at Kansas was not such a good idea. Only a punter would want to come to Kansas, knowing he will get to showcase his trade many times per game. Man we blew it not making the change at HC at the end of the season. Now we are yet another year away from a comeback. With a one win season next year, Beaty should FINALLY get the boot. My bet is that a new coach coming in this year could have gotten us 2-3 wins.

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Mike Hart

Well, we will never know what a new coach would do in 2018, because it won't be happening. But speculate away, Barry...

11 months, 2 weeks ago

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Lance Meier

I believe also that many, many, many of those that de-committed were those that committed early (LA) and were not being searched/watched/checked by other schools til KU became interested in them. A lot of the talent KU got verbals from were high rated talented kids, that were not being looked at til they made a verbal to a school (KU). It's too bad the 10 or so that de-committed did not stay with KU, we all hate to lose 1 quality kid whether he's a 4/5 star or a 2/3 star. KU still needs to get the BEST the state has to offer, needs to get instate talent to commit to KANSAS FOOTBALL... To get those kids to stay instate will show other kids from other states that KU is committed to it's Football program. Beaty and the rest of the coaches are doing what they can do to change the terrible culture "that is" KU football, wins will change/help tremendously, nothing changes culture attitudes like winning ball games. KU Football is behind in recruiting by 20 years, every bad recruit yr U have it puts U back 4 yrs, count Manginos last yr added to 2 yrs each Gill/Weis X 4 = 20... TIME and PATIENCE, I know I want to win too!!! Beaty is trying his ass off, we need to back him and his staff... RCJH

11 months, 1 week ago

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