The University of Kansas football team received 21 national letters of intent, head coach Mark Mangino announced Wednesday afternoon from the podium of Hadl Auditorium.
“We feel like it’s a good class for us,” Mangino said. “We met our needs on all offensive and defensive positions, for the most part. Overall, I’m very pleased with the people we signed.”
Mangino said he and his staff signed recruits at quarterback (two) and runningback (three) due to lack of depth and continued to recruit fast, athletic defensive players as well as young offensive linemen who could be developed.
However, Mangino was quick to temper expectations in the face of having this group labeled his best class ever at Kansas.
“As you know, it’s my feeling as a coach that you have to develop these kids on the field. You really don’t know how good your signing class is until they get out on the field in the Big 12. Based on out evaluations, based on our background checks, meeting with these young people face-to-face, collectively our coaching staff and I agree it’s a class that met our needs,” he said.
Kansas signed 11 defensive players and 10 offensive players, which Mangino said was “a nice balance.”
Mangino was probably relieved that signing day had come and gone with no surprises. Last year, several recruits reneged on their oral commitments on or shortly before signing day. He attributed the lack of 2006 defections to a number of factors.
“Each and every year, we learn more and more about our program and our recruiting. We took some extra precautions to recruit kids of character. I thought our staff did an outstanding job of finding out all the people who influence the kids that we recruit. We’ve added some new coaches to the staff who add to the tenacious style of recruiting that we use,” he explained.
So is this Mangino’s best recruiting class in his tenure at KU?
“I’ll put it to you like this: just like everything else in our program is improving each year, so’s the recruiting. We would hope that everybody understands that we’re working under the assumption that we’re improving in all areas in our program, in all facets. This is another facet we’re improving in.”
Mangino said he can now get in a lot of living rooms now that he couldn’t in previous seasons because people have seen the improvement in Lawrence. The progress on the field over the past two seasons, he said, along with increased television exposure has made a world of difference
“We played more games on television last year than we have in a long, long time here at KU,” he recalled. “Kids watch it, and they see your program and they say, ‘Hey, they’ve been calling me.’ That’s not bad.”
Other signing day notes:
- Staying close to home: Mangino was pleased with landing three Kansas players – RB Jake Sharp, DE Jamal Greene and QB Tyler Lawrence – because typically Kansas doesn’t have many legitimate division one prospects.
“This year we thought there were two or three guys that we thought would fit into our program who could play at the Big 12 level. We actively pursued those kids, and we got them,” he said.
- Where they’re from: Texas led the pack with nine KU signees. Oklahoma had three, Missouri and Florida two, and California and Colorado with one each.
- Bowl berth helpful?: When asked if a Fort Worth Bowl berth and convincing win helped land so many Texas recruits, Mangino said it “sure didn’t hurt any” when it came to landing good players from a KU recruiting hotbed.
“We’ve recruited Texas pretty aggressively since we’ve been here. A lot of kids watching on TV, many of them bought a ticket and went to the game,” the coach said. “If it did anything, it helped us, but it sure didn’t hurt us.”
- KU-KC pipeline? Mangino explained, “Kansas City, KS, and Kansas City, MO, are considered the state of Kansas. That’s a primary recruiting territory for us. We’ve been able to get some good players out of there in the past, and we’re sure happy about the kids we got this year.”
Mangino on recruits:
- RB Jake Sharp: “He stacks up well. He’s speedy, he’s tough. He’ll be a special teams guys, I told him that a long time ago that probably the first step he takes on the playing field here is on special teams. I think he’s a quality kid. The thing I like the most about him: he’s a tough customer. That guy is fearless. He is just a hard-nosed kid. We always have room for those guys here.”
- QB Todd Reesing: “There’s been some talk, because he’s not a real tall guy, about whether he can throw over the defensive line. I think, if you watch tape of him, he can throw the ball over the defensive line. He has that keen ability – not unlike Bill Whittemore – to find the throwing lanes. I’m not concerned at all that he’s not 6-3 or 6-4.”
- QB Tyler Lawrence: “He came here to summer camp and just tore it up. We like him: he’s smart, he’s competitive, he’s athletic. We’re real pleased to have Tyler. It’s a good catch for us.”
- On recruiting Rockhurst: “I’ve been recruiting Rockhurst High School since the old Big 8 Conference. I have great respect for their coach (Tony Severino) and what he does developing players. He does at Rockhurst what we do (at KU): he develops players, makes them better so that they can compete. We had a great experience with (Rockhurst alumna) Kevin Kane, and there’s no reason we won’t have a great experience with Sal Capra and Phil Strozier… I’ve spent a lot of years recruiting (at Rockhurst) . They trust me, and I trust them, and that’s how you build relationships in recruiting.”
- On newly-signed DBs Anthony Webb and Philip Strozier: “Webb is a young man who committed to us a long time ago. Good hips, quick feet, great change-of-direction guy, has a lot of fight in him, a lot of competitive spirit. Strozier’s the same way. Strozier is a guy who is really physically put-together, great feet, good hips, got that burst that you like, very athletic. But he really, for a high school player, is really physically developed. He’s very powerful, a strong kid, and we really like his attitude. He’s very upbeat and very positive and as soon as he made his mind up to come to KU, there was no wavering at all.”
- On LB Sal Capra: “Sal is an intelligent guy. (He’s) similar to Kevin Kane in that respect, although he’s bigger than Kevin. He’s bigger and thicker than Kevin was coming out of high school. He plays basketball, which you always love to recruit linebackers who play on their high school basketball because they know how to change direction and they know how to play over bent knees.”
- On WR Tertavian Ingram: “He has some size to him, which you like because the corners and safeties that line up over them have size nowadays. He’s a really gifted athlete. He runs good routes. What he does is, he catches the ball and then gets yardage after the catch, as well. Another really smart young man. I was really impressed with his focus: he knows what he wants in college and what he wants to achieve… His dad (former Washburn University All-American WR Terry Ingram) lives in Topeka. It was kind of ironic. We found this out right before his visit. He told one of the coaches, ‘Y’know, my dad lives in Topeka.’ So I said, ‘Maybe we’ve got a chance here.’”
2006 KU football signees
Donte Bean, RB, 5-9, 180, Rowlett, TX
Sal Capra, LB, 603, 245, KCMo
Bradley Dedeaux, TE, 6-3, 240, Midwest City, OK
Jamal Greene, DE, 6-4, 265, KCK
Tertavian Ingram, WR, 6-0, 181, Tampa, FL
D’Marcus Lang, RB, 6-2, 212, Scurry, TX
Tyler Lawrence, QB, 6-3, 205, Shawnee, KS
Dakota Lewis, LB, 6-1, 206, Sulphur, OK
John Marshall, OL, 6-3, 280, New Pleasant, TX
Olaitan Oguntodu, DB, 6-0, 200, Mesquite, TX
Maxwell Onyegbule, LB, 6-4, 220, Arlington, TX
Xavier Rambo, WR, 6-0, 185, Dallas
Todd Reesing, QB, 5-11, 190, Austin, TX
Jake Sharp, RB, 5-10, 190, Salina
Phillip Strozier, DB, 6-0, 190, KCMo
Jeremy Terry, LB, 6-1, 190, Belle Glade, FL
Jason Thompson, DE, 6-6, 245, Dallas
Anthony Webb, DB, 6-0, 175, Glenn Heights, TX
John White, DL, 6-3, 285, Moore, OK
Carl Wilson, OL, 6-4, 275, Redlands, CA
Ian Wolfe, OL, 6-5, 280, Ft. Collins, CO