Daylon Charlot sees more posivite attitude in Jayhawks now than last season
At first, I didn’t think much of it when Alabama transfer wide receiver/return man Daylon Charlot told me Wednesday afternoon that the vibe on the practice field and in the locker room is much more positive now than last season.
I dismissed it in my head as typical spring optimism. In baseball, for example, it’s easy to feel optimistic during spring training because the season hasn’t started and the bullpen hasn’t blown up in a game that counts yet. Then the season starts and the Twins string together six-run seventh innings in the first two games.
“Last year there was a lot of negativity on the team and that’s what brings a team down real quick,” Charlot said. "This year it seems like the team is making a big step. This year everyone’s committed to the process. Everyone’s on the same page.”
Charlot’s words have stayed in my head, resurfacing from time to time, and the more I thought about it, the more I could see a legitimate cause of an uptick in attitude. It started to make sense.
The most overlooked, least talked about aspect of a coaching change often is that it creates a split between players recruited by a coach who prefers one system and recruits to that system and the successor who favors different types of players because they fit his system better. That inevitably leaves many of the holdovers believing that the new coach is playing favorites because his reputation as a recruiter and his talent-evaluation abilities will be based on the performance of the new guys, not the holdovers.
Well, no need to fear such a split now. True, all the players in their fourth and fifth years in the program were recruited by Charlie Weis, but there are about half as many Weis recruits left as last season. Not many. When Kansas opens its 2017 season, nearly the entire roster will be made up of players in their first, second and third seasons on the roster, recruited by David Beaty and his staff.
So it stands to reason that the players are doing a better job of staying on the same page since more than 90 percent of the scholarship athletes were recruited by the same head coach.
Only two players remain from Charlie Weis’ 2013 recruiting class: defensive lineman Kellen Ash and tight end Ben Johnson. Defensive back Colin Spencer no longer is listed on the roster. Fifth-year senior center Joe Gibson’s name is still on the roster, but he arrived as a walk-on, so he wasn’t an official member of the class of scholarship players.
Just seven players recruited on scholarship from Weis’ final recruiting class remain in the program: center Jacob Bragg and wide receivers Bobby Hertzog and Tyler Patrick on offense and linebacker Joe Dineen, defensive linemen Josh Ehambe and Daniel Wise and defensive back Derrick Neal on defense.
The holdovers who didn’t follow so many classmates out of the program tend to be the players with either the best attitude and/or ability and durability. Or they are just better fits, which by nature would give them more positive attitudes.
Charlot definitely brings a positive yet realistic frame of mind to practice. He drew raves from Beaty and his staff for how invested he was in practice on a daily basis throughout last season, even though he was not eligible to play in games. When Charlot sees something he doesn’t like in a teammate, Charlot’s not bashful about sharing what it was like at Alabama, the most successful college football program in America.
“I was telling all the receivers and all the quarterbacks what it takes too get to a bowl game because I’ve been through it already,” Charlot said. “I told them it takes leadership, discipline, effort, strength, all the little things. The little things matter the most. Staying positive plays a role in body language. Say somebody scores on us, I tell them it’s not the end of the world. We just have to respond to going through adversity. So they scored on us. That’s done. We’ve got to try to get them back.”