National Signing Day: Meet KU football's 2017 recruiting class
Within the college football universe, few offseason dates carry the weight and excitement of National Signing Day. Even for a reconstructing program such as Kansas, the future possibilities that accompany an influx of new blood are more than enough to invigorate coaches and the most loyal members of a longsuffering fan base.
Twelve recruits were expected to sign with third-year head coach David Beaty and the Jayhawks Wednesday, but a 13th emerged. This blog served as KUsports.com’s headquarters for keeping up with all the players, as they made their football futures official.
Check back in throughout signing day for more photos and reactions as they come in, and watch the highlight videos, accompanied by Rivals rankings, from the newest class of KU football players below.
Beaty will have a press conference to discuss all the recruits publicly for the first time at 1 p.m., too. We’ll share the more interesting tidbits from that session on Twitter in real time, and a recap story will follow later in the day.
Now all you have to do is sit back and enjoy National Signing Day — and click refresh every once and a while for updates.
Signing Day checklist: Who is officially on board?
Latest update: 11:36 a.m.
√ Earl Bostick (OL/DL)
— The last recruit to commit to KU was the first to make it official. Bostick signed early Wednesday morning, as confirmed by Jon Kirby of Jayhawk Slant.
√ Antonio Cole (CB)
— The lone junior college prospect to join KU today, Cole signed in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He spent 2016 as a standout at Highland Community College.
√ Jay Dineen (LB)
— The local linebacker got to sleep in a little on Signing Day because of a late start at Free State, but Dineen sent his documentation KU’s way shortly after rolling out of bed.
√ Joey Gilbertson (OL)
— The big in-state offensive lineman made his commitment to Kansas official at a signing ceremony before school at Wichita Northwest.
√ Quan Hampton (WR)
— The athletic receiver made his commitment official just after 7 a.m., a couple hours before Hampton’s signing day ceremony at Texas High, in Texarkana.
√ Liam Jones (K)
— Ranked among the top 20 senior kickers in the country by Kohl’s News, Jones had a signing ceremony Wednesday morning at Chocktaw High, in Oklahoma.
√ Travis Jordan (WR/Athlete)
— The Louisiana native recruited by KU running backs coach Tony Hull put his pen to paper at John Ehert High, in Marrero, Louisiana.
√ Octavius Matthews (RB)
— An unexpected addition to the signing class, running back Octavius Matthews, from Itawamba Community College, joined the Jayhawks on National Signing Day. Matthews reportedly had offers from Auburn and Louisville, too.
The KU coaches have December signee Peyton Bender, a juco teammate of Matthews, to thank for getting the three-star rusher to Lawrence. Matthews told Kirby and Jayhawk Slant the QB pitched KU to the RB.
“Peyton told me he thought it would be the best fit for me,” Matthews told Jayhawk Slant. “We were next to each other in the backfield in junior college and he said we could do the same things at KU.”
√ Cooper Root (LB)
The Wichita Collegiate linebacker looking to help the home state program made his commitment official, according to Jayhawk Slant.
√ Kenyon Tabor (WR)
— The stud Derby receiver had his papers ready to send to KU hours before his signing day ceremony. Tabor picked the Jayhawks over rival Kansas State.
"It's very exciting," Tabor told the Journal-World. "I can't wait."
√ Robert Topps (CB)
A cornerback from Chicago with length, Topps signed his papers early and told Jayhawk Slant he had his Kansas gear ready to go for his ceremony.
√ Dominic Williams (RB)
— The biggest name in KU’s recruiting class, Williams, a 4-star running back from Texas, stuck with the Jayhawks for more than a year, despite picking up additional offers from other Power Five programs. He signed his papers before his school day began at Independence High, in Frisco, Texas.
"It feels good," Williams told the Journal-World. "No more stress."
You can tell how fired up Beaty and the staff were to land Williams, as seen in their FaceTime conversation, tweeted out this morning by Kansas football.
√ Takulve Williams (WR)
— The New Orleans native signed his papers at St. Augustine High, with his prep coaches, around 11 a.m., making him one of the final official additions.
2-star OL/DL | 6-foot-6, 260 pounds | Barnwell, South Carolina (Barnwell High)
What to like from the highlights: Bostick, who could end up playing either offensive or defensive line at Kansas, is massive and fairly athletic. You can envision him being able to carry much more weight on his frame without losing too much mobility. He plays basketball, too, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise when you see how well he moves his feet for a 6-6 lineman. Bostick looked pretty nimble lined up as a high school tight end, as well.
3-star CB | 6-foot-1, 190 pounds | Edmond, Oklahoma (Highland Community College)
What to like from the highlights: Credit to whomever cut together Cole’s reel. It starts with a flash, with the defensive back intercepting a pass and speeding off for a long return before his opponents have time to react. The 6-1 corner not only has size in the secondary, a needed asset in the Big 12, but he also makes subtle and effective moves with the ball in his hands, as seen in his various picks and returns. His anticipation from the second level stands out, too, whether that comes by breaking on a pass route or closing in on a ball carrier.
2-star LB | 6-foot-2, 225 pounds | Lawrence, Kansas (Free State High)
What to like from the highlights: These clips are from Dineen’s junior season, so he’s actually bigger — and maybe a little faster — than his video indicates. The linebacker’s decisiveness made him a great run-stopper at the high school level, and he often finished tackles and quarterback hurries with a powerful pop. The guy loves playing football, and some who followed his prep career closely think he could become just as effective at the college level as his older brother, KU linebacker Joe Dineen.
2-star OL | 6-foot-4, 290 pounds | Wichita, Kansas (Wichita Northwest High)
What to like from the highlights: At Wichita Northwest, Gilbertson created big running lanes for his teammates and often overpowered the man in front of him. By working with KU offensive line coach Zach Yenser and getting even stronger in the years ahead, he could end up being an ideal veteran offensive lineman for the Jayhawks. There’s no better way to bring stability to the O-line than getting young guys and developing them.
3-star WR | 5-foot-8, 165 pounds | Texarkana, Texas (Texas High)
What to like from the highlights: It takes a special kind of athlete to make moves in the open field that fool defenders and explode out of said maneuvers at a high speed. And that’s just what Hampton does as both a returner and receiver in his Texas High clips. The 5-8 target shows off his 40-inch vertical on some deep balls, as well, another example of how he makes up for his height by just making plays others can’t. Plus, he sheds an awful lot of tackles for an undersized skill player.
2-star K | 5-foot-9, 165 pounds | Chocktaw, Oklahoma (Chocktaw High)
What to like from the highlights: Are kickoff clips of a kicker entertaining? They are if you’re a special teams coach looking for someone to boom them out of the end zone for no return, which Oklahoma prep Jones does time and again. A true specialist, Jones can kick field goals (as seen from various distances, as far out as 45 yards) and punt, too.
3-star WR/Athlete | 6-foot-1, 185 pounds | Marrero, Louisiana (John Ehert High)
What to like from the highlights: In these plays form Jordan’s junior season, his ability to meet the ball high with his hands on down-field passes makes him look like a bigger target than his listed height of 6-1. Routinely, Jordan finds ways to put himself in a better position to make a play on the ball than the defenders trying to stop him. On quick passes, Jordan appears to have the strength and speed to pick up extra yardage.
2-star LB | 6-foot-3, 215 pounds | Wichita, Kansas (Wichita Collegiate High)
What to like from the highlights: He might not be the flashiest defender you’ll come across, but in his clips Root seems to read the flow of plays well and react appropriately by getting to his spot for stops. A lot of his tackles come on inside rushes and he attacks them soundly.
3-star WR | 6-foot-4, 212 pounds | Derby, Kansas (Derby High)
What to like from the highlights: Size, speed, strength, moves, great hands. Tabor has all the attributes you hope to see from a receiver on his reel. Derby lined him up all over the place, and even though opponents knew the ball was coming his way there was little they could do to stop him. Looks especially fast when coming across in motion and turning to take off at the time of the snap.
3-star CB | 6-foot-2, 182 pounds | Chicago (Marist High)
What to like from the highlights: A 6-2 cornerback who hits hard. Topps makes big plays on special teams, too, blocking an extra point and a couple punts. Looks comfortable covering a receiver out wide and coming off the edge as a blitzer.
4-star RB | 5-foot-9, 186 pounds | Frisco, Texas (Independence High)
What to like from the highlights: There’s a reason Williams comes in as the biggest name in this class, and it’s the same reason some call the running back “Flash.” This guy just flies — and spins and jukes and hurdles and bounces off defenders — in the open field. Whatever it takes to extend the play and pick up huge chunks of yardage. What’s more, Williams bursts forward when you think he’s already moving as fast as he can. Play-maker.
2-star WR | 5-foot-11, 180 pounds | New Orleans (St. Augustine High)
What to like from the highlights: Takulve Williams’ punt returns show off not only his vision, but also his ability to go from standing still to full-out sprint quicker than would-be tacklers anticipate. As a receiver, he’s the type of guy who can evade tacklers at the line of scrimmage or make a play on a deep throw.
• Peyton Bender — QB | 6-1, 180 | three stars
• Hasan Defense — DB | 6-0, 175 | three stars
• J.J. Holmes — DT | 6-2, 310 | three stars
• Kerr Johnson — WR | 5-11, 180 | three stars
• Kyron Johnson — LB | 6-1, 195 | three stars
• Willie McCaleb — DE | 6-3, 250 | three stars
• KeyShaun Simmons — DL | 6-3, 270 | two stars
• Shakial Taylor — CB | 6-1, 180 | three stars