Twenty-five signees were listed as Kansas' recruiting class for the 2005 season. Mangino said the class wasn’t finished and that the Jayhawks would try to add another cornerback or two to the numbers.
Most of the athletes are set to qualify, but Mangino said that there were two who were longshots. He did have backup placement plans for both prospects in case they fell through, he said.
"This class will help our program in many areas," Mangino said. "Especially along the defensive and offensive lines, which were a high priority. We also were able to strengthen our overall speed and athleticism at skill positions on both sides of the ball."
The class, which Mangino called his best here at Kansas, includes four of the top prospects from the state of Kansas, six high school players from Texas and seven players who will be with the Jayhawks starting in spring practice -- six junior college players and Tang Bacheyie, a former Kansas signee at safety.
At quarterback, the Jayhawks landed their man when they were able to get Kerry Meier of Pittsburg.
"We were also very pleased to get the number one quarterback on our board," Mangino said. "We put him up there way back in February of last year. Seldom does that happen, but we're pleased that he’s going to be a Jayhawk.
"I think it’s pretty obvious when you watch tape of him. He has great presence, he can throw the ball, he has great feet, he has tremendous leadership qualities. He has everything that I'm looking for in a quarterback. I can’t find any negatives with him, and that's hard to say, because you know every quarterback has strengths and weaknesses. We feel that he has the potential to be an excellent passer an excellent leader and great feet and speed to avoid the rush, run the option, do all of the things we like to do with our quarterback."
Aaron Quigley was a late addition to the class at running back.
"He’s a very explosive guy who has done a great job the last couple of months in the classroom," Mangino said. "We think he can succeed now on and off the field."
At wide receiver, the Jayhawks added Raimond Pendleton of Garland, Texas to Murph who is already on campus and will be ready for spring ball.
"Well Murph is here, and man he’s smooth," Mangino said. "He’s got great feet and great ball skills he’s what you call a dependable guy. If you throw the ball near him, he’s going to catch it and secure it. And Pendleton, he’s a speedy guy that we had a lot of competition for. But he liked us, he liked our offense and he thought he’d have a chance to come in and compete early."
One of the top tight end prospects in the nation decided to come to Kansas in 6-7 250 pound Josh Bell from Hitchcock, Texas. Bell has the size and speed to compete with returning tight ends Derek Fine and redshirt freshman Jim Reuber.
Offensive line depth was one of the major goals in this class, and it was helped by an influx of junior college talent. Marcus Anderson was one of the top junior college tackles in the nation. Jake Cox paved the way for two 1,000 yard rusher at Iowa Central Community College this year. Cesar Rodriguez’s brother Jose and Newton lineman Adam Welty made up the high school offensive linemen who signed.
Defensive line depth was another priority, and Kansas got two of junior college’s best in Rodney Allen and Wayne Wilder.
"The only junior college player who is not here now is Rodney Allen, who is an extremely talented player, and we’re looking for him to be an impact guy as well even though he’s not here at semester," Mangino said. "And we brought Wayne Wilder in to play."
Caleb Blakesley of Ottawa also was an important get and a potential sleeper, Mangino said.
"Every year somebody asks me that question (who could be a sleeper)," Mangino said. "Caleb Blakesley’s a guy who is a lot more physical than people think. He’s also pretty quick, his first two or three steps are as quick as you would like. He could possibly play for us next year."
Russell Brorsen, Bobby Johnson of Westport, Jonathan Throneberry, Darius Warner and Jeff Wheeler round up the high school additions to the defensive line. Warner, Brorsen and Wheeler are expected to play at defensive end.
Mangino said speed at linebacker for the future was a must have, and with JUCO recruits Paul Como and Eric Washington, and high schoolers Jake Schermer and Arist Wright, they seem to have accomplished the goal. Both Schermer and Wright are smaller linebackers who may need time to bulk up, and Como and Washington should help give them more time. Schermer could also wind up with safety with his speed.
One of the problem spots in the class might be a lack of cornerbacks, but Mangino said they would continue to court cornerbacks for the 2005 class. Justin Thornton of St. Joseph is the only true cornerback, and he has safety speed. Mangino sang Darrell Stuckey's praises, calling him possibly the best pure athlete he had recruited at Kansas.
James Holt and Tang Bacheyie, a previous KU signee in 2003, round out the safeties. Bacheyie was set to enroll at Kansas, but a combination of academics and an injury sustained in high school pushed his enrollment back to this class.
One non-scholarship player will attempt to help shore up the kicking game. Alex Hanson will walk on from Ankeny High School. Hanson has a strong leg and booted a 47-yarder in a game last year.