Making redshirts out of six juniors can correct class imbalance for Kansas football
The NCAA allows Football Bowl Subdivision schools to carry 85 players on full scholarships. When schools fall short, they award scholarships to walk-ons. The limit for any one class is 25.
Because of career-ending injuries, academic flameouts, transfers to other schools, etc., most schools have rosters with fewer than 80 players who originally came to the program on scholarship.
Kansas, for example, has 77 players on the roster who originally came to school on football scholarships, although that number includes two Class of 2018 recruits who verbally committed but did not sign letters of intent. Also the number is likely to be smaller by the time the 2018 season starts, and in fact likely already is smaller. KU, however, has not updated its roster. The 77 figure includes offensive tackle Charles Baldwin, who did not practice with the team for most of the season as a disciplinary measure. Is he still in the program? He's still listed on the roster. It also includes a couple of players with concussion histories who might or might not be able to continue their football careers.
Having 77 original scholarship players isn't a bad number, but the class balance is not ideal. At the moment, the 2018 roster projects as having 15 freshmen, 14 sophomores, 27 juniors and 21 seniors.
Freshmen (15): Kenny Bastida, Mac Copeland, Jay Dineen, Miles Emery (committed but didn’t sign), Joey Gilbertson, Corione Harris, Travis Jordan, Torry Locklin (committed but didn’t sign), Jacobi Lott, Ryan Malbrough, Kenyon Tabor, Robert Topps III, Pooka Williams, Nick Williams, Takulve Williams.
Sophomores (14): Shola Ayinde, Earl Bostick Jr., Davon Ferguson, Joey Gilbertson, Quan Hampton, Chris Hughes, Kyron Johnson, Liam Jones, Miles Kendrick, Ian Peterson, Dru Prox, Stephon Robinson, Kyle Thompson, Dominic Williams.
Juniors (27): Hakeem Adeniji, Isaiah Bean, Julian Chandler, Daylon Charlot, Malik Clark, Charles Cole, Hasan Defense, Foster Dixson, Cam Durley, Evan Fairs, Antione Frazier, Chase Harrell, Elmore Hempstead, Khalil Herbert, Elijah Jones, Azur Kamura, Mike Lee, Reuben Lewis, Kyle Mayberry, Clyde McCauley, Jeremiah McCullough, Najee Stevens-McKenzie, Shaquille Richmond, Carter Stanley, Bryce Torneden, Andru Tovi, Justin Williams.
Seniors (21): Charles Baldwin, Peyton Bender, Jeremiah Booker, Jacob Bragg, Joe Dineen, Josh Ehambe, Denzel Feaster, Isi Holani, J.J. Holmes, Kerr Johnson, Taylor Martin, Willie McCaleb, Tyrone Miller, Emmanuel Moore, Osaze Ogbebor, Tyler Patrick, Mavin Saunders, Keyshawn Simmons, Steven Sims, Shakial Taylor, Daniel Wise.
Identifying six or so players from the junior class to spend this coming season as redshirts would result in better balance, with a breakdown of 14, 21, 21, 21.
You never want to redshirt a player unless you think he can make his way onto the depth chart as a first-string or second-string player because there is no point of keeping a non-contributor on scholarship an extra year. It wouldn't be tough to find a half dozen juniors who have the potential to benefit the team by preserving a year of eligibility to develop their skills and physiques. Six defensive backs who have not yet used a redshirt season are in the class, so three could come from the secondary. Combining offensive and defensive linemen, nine candidates are available, from which three could be earmarked for redshirts.