LAWRENCE — Bill Snyder and Maura Weis had an influence on Kansas’ junior-college heavy recruiting class.
From Snyder, who as Kansas State’s coach has guided the Wildcats to great success in the rivalry, Kansas coach Charlie Weis saw a program building blueprint. K-State, coming off a Big 12 championship season, recruits more junior-college players than many programs.
“I saw Coach Snyder before our game this year, and I told him, ‘I just want you to know I’ve learned a lot from your model,’ ” Weis said. “I meant it, out of respect for Coach Snyder. I haven’t seen a guy work the system better than he does. What he’s been able to do he deserves major compliments for it.”
As for Maura, Charlie’s wife, it was she who reminded him about the maturity level of players after he arrived at Notre Dame from the NFL and went from coaching men to recruiting teenagers.
But with junior-college players, “you kind of get a happy medium,” Weis said. “These aren’t 18-year-old kids. And everything hasn’t been handed to them. They’re much more grown up. They have it figured out. Physically, they’re more developed, they’re more ready for the real world.”
Kansas now has to hope they’re good football players. The Jayhawks signed 17 junior-college transfers in its 25-member class.
They came from junior colleges from across the country, from California to Mississippi, Arizona to New York with Kansas and Iowa in between.
After a 1-11 season in Weis’ first year, the Jayhawks needed a talent upgrade — immediately.
“We know there are multiple holes to fill here,” Weis said. “That’s no big secret.”
Defensive linemen could make an immediate impact. Marquel Combs, who transferred from Pierce College in California, is the top-rated junior-college prospect in the country by ESPN.com.
Chris Martin transferred from City College of San Francisco, and originally committed to Weis at Notre Dame as a high school junior.
“I proceeded to get fired the next year, and he de-committed,” Weis said.
The secondary also could get an immediate boost of potential starters. Four of the transfers will play safety or cornerback, and one knows the territory. Dexter McDonald, who played at Rockhurst (Mo.) High and transferred from Butler Community College, started his college career at Kansas. He appeared in seven games as a redshirt freshman.
“Look at the volume of front-line juco guys on the defensive side,” Weis said, “you have a whole bunch of starters coming out of that group.”
Kansas signed three high school players from the Kansas City area, including two quarterbacks: Montell Cozart of Bishop Miege and Jordan Darling from Shawnee Mission East, along with Ben Johnson, a tight end from Basehor-Linwood.
The Jayhawks signed a high school linebacker from Hawaii, Colton Goeas, and that the program will look more often in the Pacific islands for talent.
“People have to fly to go somewhere, they might as well fly to Kansas,” Weis said.
Running back wasn’t in the recruiting plans, but Kansas signed Colin Spencer from Dallas after Marquis Jackson left the team for medical reasons.
The junior-college route won’t become a standard for Kansas. Weis said the program has a three-year recruiting plan and junior-college transfers will taper off over that period. Weis intends to see the process through.
“For those of you that had written me off and said I would be here for short amount of time,” Weis said, “I’m sorry to disappoint you.”