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Despite changes to signing limits, Lance Leipold thinks Kansas needs time to benefit

Kansas head coach Lance Leipold watches the video board after a Baylor first down during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 at Memorial Stadium. (Photo by Nick Krug/Special to the Journal-World)

Even though the NCAA's Division I Council voted last month to remove the annual signing limits that have prevented many schools from having the maximum of 85 players on scholarship in recent seasons, coach Lance Leipold believes it will likely take some time before Kansas will be able to recognize the effects of that decision.

That ruling, which went into effect on June 1 and will initially last two years, should significantly help the Jayhawks as they have not been adequately able to replace the players who have left amid the coaching turmoil that led from David Beaty to Les Miles to Leipold.

"We've been able to do a few more things than we thought we were going to be able to do here even late this summer, but as we move forward, we have to continue to look at how are we going to address the next set of evaluating needs," Leipold told the Journal-World on Thursday.

Kansas lost a combined 12 scholarship players and walk-ons to transfers in the week following the spring game on April 9 — none of whom played a significant role last season — but has since added eight scholarship players from Division I schools or junior colleges.

Among them are two players who may make an immediate impact for the Jayhawks in wide receiver Doug Emilien, who transferred from Minnesota, and safety Marvin Grant, who left Purdue.

Those eight players will join the eight who transferred to Kansas prior to the start of the spring semester in January in rounding out a team that will look significantly different in Leipold's second season.

The NCAA, for the last decade, allowed Division I schools to offer up to 25 scholarships per recruiting class to recent high school graduates or players who have chosen to transfer. But if more than 25 players left a team in a given year, that team was still beholden to the 25-scholarship limit — one that was temporarily increased to 32 players amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beaty said in July 2018 that Kansas had only 39 players on scholarship when he was hired in December 2014. By the start of the 2019 season, Miles' first as coach, that number was still only at 68 — and it wouldn't have hit 85 until the start of this season, assuming nobody but graduates had left the team in the past three years.

Leipold did not want to disclose how many players will be on scholarship once the Jayhawks begin training camp in August but said he wants to ensure the roster is not so heavily reliant upon underclassmen, as it was last season, or unbalanced by position.

"It will also be important to look at the whole conference or Power 5 football or the upper part of the Big 12," Leipold said. "Is everybody playing with older players across the board now because of the availability to go that route? We continue to research all that now in Year 2."

Nearly everyone Kansas added via transfer in the past seven months has at least two years of eligibility remaining, meaning the Jayhawks have added players who have time to grow while on the team but are still older and experienced.

Recruiting players at specific positions can still be tricky. Kansas did not add a high school wide receiver during the last recruiting cycle because it had a glut of players at the position, but three decided to transfer in April and only Emilien joined the team. As a result, it has prioritized the position in the class of 2023 and has already picked up commitments from three wide receivers.

Last week, the NCAA's transformation committee recommended changes to the protocols surrounding the online transfer portal, which was established in October 2018 to aid players' ability to change schools. Record numbers of players across all sports have decided to transfer in the past three-plus years, creating mass player movement, and the committee suggested players be allowed to transfer only during designated windows, meaning teams would know when to prepare for departures.

Those recommendations could be approved by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors as soon as Aug. 3, though what those windows would look like or when they would be instituted is unclear.

"College sports continues to face many challenges, and we need to move quickly to update our rules and make infractions more efficient so we can focus our attention on Division I membership expectations and, most importantly, benefits for student-athletes," Georgia president Jere Morehead, the board's chairman, said in a statement.

Leipold said that between pending and proposed regulations, everyone is still trying to find "the sweet spot" between allowing players the ability to leave while keeping teams together.

"We've still got to balance, in this sport as much as any, team camaraderie and working together and your investment and all that," Leipold said. "I'm hoping we find those windows of what the portal is."

Comments

Dirk Medema

Xac - I was noticing recently that the KU athletics roster still includes Duece Mayberry, even though he entered the portal in April. Others that entered the portal at the same time don’t appear on the roster. Do you know if Duece being on the roster is an oooops, or is he planning to be back?

Duece and Steven Parker were the 2 portalers (since Terry, Harris, Prunty) that seemed like they had a place on the team.

The roster demise really began when Coach Mangino left. IIRC, there were 10-20 players that left with each coaching change. Initially, it was manageable, but it started to snow ball when we started replacing coaches every couple years, and pretty much hit bedrock when half of Charlie’s recruits never even made it to a game. So glad we’ve been improving since. So many signs point to Coach Leipold and crew being the real deal; wait, that’s someone else.

With the few exceptions mentioned above, the I-O seems to be a net gain.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Edward Daub

Per 247 Sports,

Deuce Mayberry is still in the Transfer Portal.

Steven Parker has signed with Incarnate Word.

Karon Prunty is now at North Carolina A&T.

Velton Gardner signed with SMU and Amauri Pesek-Hickson with Northern Iowa.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Edward Daub

Per 247 Sports on the Spring Transfers,

Devonte Wilson to Florida A&M

Johnquai Lewis to McNeese State

Tristan GoLightly to Abilene Christian

Larson Workman to Texas State

Corey Robinson to Georgia Tech

The other 5 (including Deuce) are still in the Portal.

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Al Martin

Nice article about Coach Leipold and Kansas football on espn.com: https://www.espn.com/college-football...

1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Edward Daub

Thanks Al! I read the Intro part, but I do not pay for ESPN+, so I missed reading the Body of it.

Comparing Leipold to Bill Snyder is certainly setting extremely high expectations. Rock Chalk!

1 month, 1 week ago

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Andy Godwin

Matt, why the secrecy around how many scholarship players are on the KU football roster?

"Leipold did not want to disclose how many players will be on scholarship once the Jayhawks begin training camp in August but said he wants to ensure the roster is not so heavily reliant upon underclassmen, as it was last season, or unbalanced by position".

I can understand the need to spread out the scholarships across classes, but from Beaty (self-reported number of scholarship players) on it has been very difficult to discern why one does not know the exact number of players on scholarship. Obviously, that number can change if walk-ons’ or blueshirts receive support. However, I am not sure if Leipold wants to withhold that information so blueshirts considering KU are in the dark regarding if scholarships are truly available to give if some are available at the start of the season. Thoughts?

1 month, 1 week ago

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Dirk Medema

Al,

Love the example given in the intro about how the staff is developing culture, and even a glimpse from Andy of an honest assessment.

Edward,

Thanks for copying over the portal info, though it still doesn’t answer the question about Mayberry’s status on the roster. It would be nice to see him back. It seems like he could contribute.

Andy,

I obviously don’t have the inside info of Matt or Zac (sorry about the fat finger typo), but not getting into the specifics (weeds) of the numbers quagmire seems consistent with Coach’s approach to most things. It’s more an issue of the past, but not their focus on winning games, moving forward. $0.02

As a numbers nerd, I’ve been all over it in the past with spreadsheets of all the players, positions, class, scholarship vs walkons (I think). It sounds like the staff has a much more advanced version which isn’t terribly different than past staffs. The encouraging thing IMO is that they have done an excellent job of addressing needs and creating quality competition.

We also have something like 5xs as many superseniors this year as last. A lot of older guys chose to stick around vs bailing like past classes (Seemed to be more a response to the staff than a reflection of the players imo.)

Last year we had a lot of returning players by normal stds, but was way behind for that year because everyone else retained so many supers. This year, we have by far, by far the most returning players. On top of that, I think every position where we lost a starter, we filled the position with a quality experienced recruit.

It’s not He will, He won’t, He might - wrong sport/writer, but, I’m predicting we at least double our Ws, get a C&NCOTY, hear talk about bowling, but come up just short.

Hope I’m wrong on the last one 😉

1 month, 1 week ago

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Bville Hawk

Al, thnaks for the link, a nice article indeed!

1 month, 1 week ago

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Jeff Coffman

I assume blue and gray shirts reset to zero and in 2 years we should be at 85. I think the key is to be recruiting 25 every year, with classes being heavy on the high school. Basically you can recruit 125 over 5 years and with red shirts staying inside 85 is manageable, but losing transfers and focusing on juco that 125 can dwindle quickly.

The key is to have on avg 21 for each class. You dont want to veer off of that else you have to rebound in an incorrect manner...or t hff e KU way for about a dozen years.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Dirk Medema

Jeff - That was all accurate 2 months ago. That all changed a month or so ago when the ncaa said the annual 25 player doesn’t apply for the next 2 years.

Look for that to be extended indefinitely because the transfer portal would otherwise have a negative effect on the big dogs/big$. It’s one thing for KU to be at a roster disadvantage, but they can’t let it happen to ou, usc, etc as they trade players or otherwise lose them. I think KUs 12 player portal losses were pretty on par for other programs this year and something that becomes unsustainable and dangerous for everyone.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Edward Daub

The KU Athletics Roster must be wrong on Mayberry, he is definitely in the portal along with Mason Brotherton, Majik Rector, Kyler Pearson, and Gayflor Flomo.

KU Sports has previously documented the loss of 10 players after April 9, now they say it is up to 12.

The KU Athletics Roster will be updated to add the incoming freshmen and summer transfers at some point.

I count 7 summer transfers, 3 DB's, 2 DE's, 1 WR, and 1 OL. KU Sports has the number at 8, I missed one.

1 month, 1 week ago

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Dirk Medema

Edward, maybe it’s a matter of the time line in question. Summer. Since spring ball. 2022. Since last season.

The good news is that 24/7 has us as one of the best transfer classes. Right behind’Bama. They even recognize that it is key players at positions of need, and speculate that it will be worth 1 or 2 extra victories. I think a year of program installation and culture building will be worth another.

1 month, 1 week ago

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