So nervous at his introductory press conference that he twice said “Texas” when he meant “Kansas,” David Beaty still was able to articulate his plan for rescuing a football program flailing in quicksand.
He could not execute his blueprint because he so quickly abandoned it. In three games shy of four seasons on the job, he didn’t move the program forward an inch and has a 6-39 record.
“It starts with not only having a recruiting board, but a Kansas recruiting board,” Beaty said at the beginning.
With a couple of exceptions each year, it pretty much turned into a walk-on recruiting board. That became the perception of many high school coaches in the state. It’s a tough one to dispute.
“We truly want this to become a Kansas identity football team,” Beaty said his first day on the job. “Now, we’re going to recruit other areas. We’re going to hit the state of Texas. We’re going to hit the state of Oklahoma. We’re going to hit the state of Missouri. But this will be, make no mistake, this will be a Kansas identity program.”
Didn’t even come close to happening. There are more scholarship players from Florida than from Kansas on the roster.
“We’re going to earn the support of our students, our fans and the high school coaches from this great state, from east to west, north to south, and the recruits in this great state,” he said.
Smart plan, never executed.
Six scholarship players on the updated roster arrived directly from Kansas high schools. One of them, fifth-year linebacker Joe Dineen Jr., was recruited and played his first season for Charlie Weis. The other five: Mac Copeland, Jay Dineen, Joey Gilbertson, Jalan Robinson and Bryce Torneden.
“We also want to do a good job of keeping the best players in the state of Kansas right here at home at their university,” Beaty said on Day 1. “That is top priority for us. And we do that by building relationships, not only with them, but with their coaches, their families and the fans.”
In the five recruiting classes from 2015 through 2019, the Jayhawks welcomed just three top-five Kansas recruits.
Quarterback Ryan Willis originally committed to Weis and then to Beaty, played two seasons at Kansas and is now starting quarterback at Virginia Tech. Kenyon Tabor, a terrific receiver prospect, suffered a career-ending injury before playing a college game. Redshirting freshman offensive lineman Mac Copeland is the third.
Miles Emery, No. 2 in the Class of 2018, made a verbal commitment to KU, but enrolled at Butler County Community College.
In that time period, Kansas State landed seven top-five Kansas recruits, Clemson, Oklahoma and Wisconsin two apiece, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Northwestern and Notre Dame one apiece.
In Beaty’s first two recruiting seasons, Rivals still went 10 deep with its state rankings. Kansas picked up junior defensive back Torneden, a third-year starter and No. 9 in his class. Kansas State had four top 10 recruits in those two classes who did not earn top-five status.
Identifying quarterbacks also was a problem for Beaty.
Blue Valley North’s Graham Mertz, the state’s top-rated recruit in the Class of 2019, per Rivals, is bound for North Carolina. Labette County’s Easton Dean, the fourth-rated prospect, committed to Iowa State. Last season’s No. 1 recruit, Jace Ruder from Norton, is at North Carolina.
The talent in Kansas is more spread out than in most states, but playing football means more to a player from the state than to one just coming here because he was blown off by the top schools close to home. Offering a scholarship to a player from Kansas just a tad less talented than one from elsewhere often is the better way to go.
You can’t fill a whole roster with Kansas players and expect to survive in the Big 12, but with good projecting skills, a coach can find prospects not as close to their ceilings as are prospects in year-round football states. Bill Snyder has proven that for years.
Beaty didn’t succeed for a variety of reasons, ranging from recruiting too many transfers to too much turnover on his staff to never developing an offensive line or a quarterback.
His unintentional words from the introductory press conference proved to be his most prophetic. When going through a list of people he wanted to thank, Beaty said, “and certainly the search committee, who did a very thorough job and did a very professional job as they conducted this search. My condolences to them.”
The end all started at the beginning, when Beaty said the program would have a Kansas identity and then changed his mind.
It doesn’t matter whether the next KU coach says he will build his program first by ensuring that the top recruits from the state of Kansas stay at home. All that’s important is that he does so.