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Weis pulls in recruiting class heavy on transfers

Big 12 Conference football

POSTED February 1, 2012 8:13 p.m.

LAWRENCE — Two things became abundantly clear when Charlie Weis introduced his first recruiting class at Kansas: He’ll go anywhere to reel in talent, and he wants to eat well when he gets there.
The new coach of the Jayhawks unveiled his first recruiting class Wednesday, which he pulled together in barely two months on the job. It includes high-profile transfers Dayne Crist, Jake Heaps and Justin McCay, along with eight junior college transfers Weis hopes can help immediately.
Kansas finished 2-10 last season, which led to the firing of Turner Gill.
“I don’t have enough fingers to put in the dike,” Weis said, referring to the holes in the roster upon his arrival. “There are more to fill, but this is a good start.”
Only four players are from Missouri or Kansas. The rest are from as far away as Washington, South Carolina and California, though the most by state are the six players from Texas. One of them is Ty McKinney, a 6-foot-3, 310-pound defensive lineman from Trinity Valley Community College, who is expected to fill what Weis called a significant need.
McKinney is such a behemoth that he’s had to cut weight to stay at 310 pounds.
“I tried to get him to go someplace where we could eat some barbecue,” Weis said. “He said, ‘No, I don’t eat that stuff.’ ... I was really disappointed.”
Weis was just as disappointed when he head out to see Taylor Cox, a running back from College of Siskiyous in Northern California. Weis couldn’t just find something good to eat — he couldn’t find anything to eat. Heck, he had a hard enough time finding the tiny junior college.
“I give this kid credit to find this school he’s at,” Weis said with a smile. “I landed there and wanted to find something to eat, and the closest place to get a bite was 27 miles away. That’s a scary thought, when you think about it.”
Weis believes he landed a hidden gem in Cox, who holds school records for yards rushing in a game (325) and career (2,744). But that’s precisely the kind of player Weis had to recruit.
He didn’t have the luxury of building up a rapport with the nation’s elite prospects over several seasons. Otherwise, he may have been in on Springfield, Mo., wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, the No. 1-ranked recruit in the nation who chose Missouri.
“You always feel rushed,” Weis said. “When you have drastic holes, going after a junior college kid is a unique opportunity.”
So is landing a coveted transfer from another four-year institution.
Crist is taking advantage of a relatively new rule allowing players who have graduated to transfer for their final season without having to sit out of a year. The former Notre Dame starter will have the job to lose when spring practice starts at Kansas.
Heaps will have to sit out next season after transferring from BYU, where he set freshman records for a quarterback after a standout prep career. McCay would also have to sit out after he transferred from Oklahoma, though he’s appealing to the NCAA on grounds of personal hardship.
Weis said he’s also holding a couple more scholarships for fifth-year transfers like Crist who are planning to graduate in May. Those will be announced later.
“Fifth-year transfers, I’m going to be open to them every year, and I’ll tell you why: There’s very little risk,” he said. “For every one of these fifth years I bring in, they’re also going out, so they’re not costing me a potential recruit.”
Still, Weis expects a more traditional recruiting class next year.
He ideally would focus on kids within driving distance of Lawrence, which means locking up the Kansas City area. He also wants a pipeline to talent-rich Texas, particularly the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where new defensive coordinator Dave Campo spent 20-plus years with the Cowboys.
That doesn’t mean he won’t travel any distance to secure a commitment.
In the case of Schyler Miles, that meant more than once.
The linebacker from Tampa, Fla., was the only prospect he recruited as offensive coordinator at Florida that Weis stayed on when he was hired at Kansas. That unique case allowed him to visit Miles was as an assistant coach and again as a head coach.
Weis managed to lure him in, along with 19 other prospects. He called signing day a chance to finally exhale after a hectic period of transition, and was looking ahead to yet another trip, though this one had nothing to do with football.
“I’m excited to go see my wife this weekend in Puerto Rico, to be honest,” Weis said. “I’ll be watching the Super Bowl, but as a matter of fact, I know where I’ll be watching it from. I can picture my seat, where I’ll be, overlooking the ocean, drinking a couple Diet Cokes.”
You can bet there’ll be something good to eat, too.


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