2022 JaySquawk Preseason Edition 2022

Bundy

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Its been awhile since we heard about Kansas football. The dog days of summer are upon us, and that can only mean one thing: college football is back.

For the Jayhawks, a bitter end to their inaugural season with a loss to rival Missouri still remains a disgusting taste in their mouth. The Jayhawks finished 5-7 on the year, missing a bowl game. Perhaps equally disappointing for the Jayhawk staff, underperforming receiver Junior Ogbah (29-506-5) ended up being selected in the 1st Round of the NFL Draft, and while normally that would be a joyous occasion, many in the national media believe Ogbah and KU’s split was less than ceremonious – with rumors that Ogbah was unhappy with the way he was used at the collegiate level.

We’ve seen an incredible change in Kansas’ potential scheming with their roster building through last year’s recruiting. Coach Bundy showed he was not afraid to start younger guys, and his full fresh class will all come in to compete for reps.



Quarterbacks

Returning: Jeff Maeda – 1 start

Jeff Maeda started Kansas’ inaugural game last season, before being benched for senior quarterback Ian Morgan, who retained the signal caller position the rest of the way.


The Candidates:

Jeff Maeda SR, Aaron Diaz JR, Tyler Summers (FR), Dustin Benintendi FR

On the Roster:

Edmond Kearse SR, Kaleb Sankoh JR

Maeda is the only returning Jayhawks QB to have thrown a regular season pass, but the lack of confidence in his arm may see him relegated to a permanent reserve role, or maybe he could have been seen as a prime transfer candidate to a mid-major if the NCAA had opened up the Transfer Portal. The recruiting roster construction of the offense seems to be entirely tooled around an offense led by a scrambling quarterback, which may tilt the favor towards the others in the QB room. Aaron Diaz managed to get on the field as a punt returner for part of last year, displaying decent athleticism. Tyler Summers may get the early nod though, as he has media hype as a 4-star player, and could offer Kansas a 4-year signal caller. Dustin Benintendi will compete for a QB3 role going forward, though he’s likely to be redshirted. He remains a darkhorse candidate though, since he brings a thicker frame that may end up being more durable and potent in the short yardage running game.


Through Kansas’ spring season, Summers received all of the QB1 reps in scrimmages vs Nebraska and at Arizona. Summers looked incredibly raw – especially against Arizona, in which he tossed 5 interceptions and had just 24 yards over 29 attempts – but the playmaking ability is there too, with him notching 273 passing yards on 18 completions and 31 more rushing yards against the Cornhuskers.

Running Backs

Returning: Bene’ Humber – 12 starts

The Candidates:

Bene’ Humber SR, Cody Casspi (SO), Jacob Flores SO, Kamalei Lowe FR

On the Roster:

Jackie O’Leary SR, Manny Mannion JR, Miles Street SO

Bene’ Humber dashed his way to a relatively unexpected 1st-Team Big XII nod last year, and he looks to reprise his role as the team’s feature back. Cody Casspi is the immediate challenger for playing time – but its likely the team splits the two situationally, to give them a balanced and more unexpected attack. Jacob Flores doesn’t offer much to the team in terms of starting potential at this time, but he may play a vital depth and special teams role. Kamalei Lowe factors in to a similar position as Flores at this time, and is a likely redshirt candidate.

Fullbacks

Returning: Marcell Maysonet – 12 starts

The Candidates:

Marcell Maysonet JR, Alex Takahashi FR, Austin Girodo FR

On the Roster:

Francis Lynn SR

Maysonet appears to be the first locked in starter at a position, with the junior expected to for sure see time in special teams sets. The amount of reps he gets is yet to be determined, as Kansas’ recruiting of tight ends may see them earn a hybrid h-back role instead of the fullbacks consistently seeing the field. Freshmen Alex Takahashi and Austin Girodo are seeing major hype on Twitter, with the two already being referred to as the cliché “A-Team” based on their first names and comraderie. Both are potential redshirt candidates depending on what KU does with the rest of its redshirts. Girodo is seeing extra hype because he is Kansas grown and popular with the locals – so it may be hard to not involve him early if the Jayhawks want to continue to land in-state recruits.


Kansas pounded the rock a lot this spring, 76 times to be exact. And yet it was fullback Maysonet coming away with the lions share of the attempts, rushing 22 times to Tyler Summers’ 18 and Cody Casspi’s 20. This is a backfield that could be electric when everything is ticking – with Maysonet wracking up 6.27 yards per carry, pairing with Humber’s 4.58. The dust hasn’t settled over who will play which position, or who will get the most reps, but Maysonet may be proving to be a feature after being an afterthought last year.

Receivers

Returning: Adam Williams – 12 starts, 57-779-5

Tomas Nelson – 0 starts, 16-194-1

Nate Lucas – 0 starts, 3-19-1


The Candidates:

Trenton Adam (SR), Adam Williams SR, Tomas Nelson SR, Nate Lucas JR, Braden James JR, Tanner Bradley (FR), Eric Zawadzki (FR) Ifeadi Barea FR

There aren’t any true “just here to go to school” players in this receiver room, everyone has a shot at contributing somewhere. This is a very upperclass-heavy position on the roster, which could help the inexperienced QBs out a lot. Trenton Adam took a redshirt year last year knowing he’d get WR1 looks this year, and Adam Williams returns to his WR2 spot that he held behind Junior Ogbah a season ago. Incoming freshman Ifeadi Barea is the tallest receiver of the group, but will 100% be taking a redshirt year at some point early on. There is real chance that at least two of senior Tomas Nelson, junior Nate Lucas, and junior Braden James join Barea on the redshirt list – there’s plenty of mouths to feed here already, and the moves will only help 2023 Kansas out even more. Tanner Bradley and Eric Zawadzki are cemented in as potential contributors, especially on special teams. Expect Bradley to be more “WR3/4 material” than Zawadzki.

Tight Ends

Returning: Alex Atkins – 12 starts, 80-1187-4

The Candidates:

Alex Atkins JR, Bryan David SO, Steel Blue FR, Travis Siegrist FR, Dylan LaFromboise FR

On the Roster:

Trey Hankins SR

Alex Atkins was the focal point of the Kansas offense last year, and that shouldn’t change heading into this year. While the receiver room is very veteran, the tight end room is extremely young, which will be challenging early but fit well into the mold of Coach Bundy’s desired offense. Bryan David is a favorite to come in during heavy sets, and could contribute in the previously mentioned h-back role – though he has the size of what one would consider a traditional tight end to be at 6’6” 250. Steel Blue is the most exciting and highly regarded prospect coming into camp, but he and fellow 4-star recruit Travis Siegrist could both be looking at redshirt years to maximize their potentials. Dylan LaFromboise was a 3-star local recruit who was kind of an afterthought in the recruiting process, he’s very raw and will likely be a career backup, but that doesn’t mean he won’t get opportunities down the road.


Spring saw Kansas do exactly what was expected out of their new personnel set – get the ball out quick to their in-line tight ends, and use the perimeter as more of a second or third option in the passing game. If the Nebraska game is a better indicator than the Arizona game, Alex Atkins and Steel Blue might grace the tops of the national awards this winter – and the Nebraska game alone might keep Steel Blue as a lethal #2 receiving option for 2022, over a redshirt year.

Only Trenton Adam and Adam Williams saw targets out of the WR room, totaling 20 combined across the 2 games. With Summers earning the early nod, don’t expect much more out of this group this year unless Maeda is given another shot.


Offensive Line

Returning:

LG Jose Moustakas – 12 starts

RT Rashad Shaw – 12 starts


The Candidates:

OT Rashad Shaw SR, Zach Rogers JR, Zac Griffin (SO), Drew Solano SO

OG Ben Gohara SR, Jose Moustakas JR, Anderson Durant (JR)

C Pete Blythe (JR), Logan Makita SO

On the Roster:

OT Ha Ha Lawry SR, Austin Smith (FR), Drew Nunnally FR, Tim Jarvis FR

OG Quenton Weaver JR, Steven Evans SO

C Jamar Carroll JR


Rashad Shaw will likely remain at right tackle rather than filling the blindside vacancy of Gary Albers, in an effort to offer consistency to the backfield and to appeal to Bene’ Humber. However, he is by far the best tackle on the roster, and may need to kick over to the left side out of need over fit. Zach Rogers was the Albers understudy last season, but he will face fierce competition from redshirt sophomore Zac Griffin and true sophomore Drew Solano for the remaining starting spot. Drew Nunnally and Tim Jarvis enter camp very much as true freshmen, and are redshirt candidates. Austin Smith remains needing development before he can be a consistent competitor for offensive playing time, though he may find a role on specials.

Jose Moustakas started over Ben Gohara last year, and Gohara will step into the right guard vacancy left by team captain Danny Syndergaard. Anderson Durant will be the primary depth guard on both sides. Steven Evans is a potential redshirt candidate with the team not pulling in a guard last recruiting cycle, though freshman tackles Nunnally and Jarvis could offer depth at the position in the short-term.

Pete Blythe was actually considered the favorite to play center entering last year’s camp, but was redshirted in the teams’ best interests in competitivity for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. Logan Makita served as the primary backup center as a true freshman. He’s smart enough to play with the big boys – but he might not be quite talented enough to make an impact just yet.


Defensive Line

Returning:

LE Eli Reyes – 12 starts, 31 tackles, 5 TFL, 4.0 sacks, 1 FF

DT Dante Gates – 10 starts, 34 tackles, 2 asst., 5 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 1 FF

DE Zack Luke – 5 tackles

DE Randal Holmes – 2 tackles, TFL, 1.0 sack


The Candidates:

DE Zack Luke SR, Chris Barreto (JR), Randal Holmes JR, Marquise Lopez JR, Eli Reyes SO, Tim Barrios (FR)

DT Mike Brantly SR, Dante Gates JR, Adrian Morris SO

On the Roster:

DE: Robert Wims FR, Kevon Jeter FR

DT: Arnaldo Valencia (FR), Cesar Westerman FR, Johnathan Putkonen FR


Defensive end is a position of riches this year, and despite Eli Reyes starting every game as a true freshman last year, both positions are up for grabs this year. Randal Holmes appears set to take over for Marvin Machado, who went to the NFL. Zack Luke is chomping at the bit and we could see a rotation of him and Reyes this year, although Marquise Lopez also factors into the race. Robert Wims was a 4-star recruit who will redshirt immediately while the mess above him clears out, and 3-star Kevon Jeter appears set to do the same. The team is unlikely to use redshirts on more than 2 DEs, but an unexpected redshirt season for Eli Reyes may be in the cards so as to prolong his Kansas potential. Tim Barrios appears to be an odd man out despite being solid for his age.

Dante Gates has locked in his role as the team’s leading nose tackle, while Mike Brantly appears the favorite to replace Dan Dekker as a traditional DT. Adrian Morris is expected to sub in. Freshmen Westerman and Putkonen are potential redshirts, and Valencia is a year away from seeing an increased role.


Linebackers

Returning:

ILB Ezekiel Sands – 12 starts, 54 tackles, 3 asst., 7 TFL, 2 INT

OLB Aaron Freeman – 12 starts, 23 tackles, INT


The Candidates:

ILB: Ezekiel Sands SR, De’Anthony Johnson SR, Lavonte Murray FR, Bryce Bourque FR

OLB: Cooper Morrison SR, Aaron Freeman JR, John Heller (FR), Michael Koehn FR

On the Roster:

ILB: Greg Cabrera JR, Cody Lannan SO, Tim Wojciechowski SO

OLB: Chris Utley JR, Trevor Koehler SO, Alex Boggs FR, Lew Duggar FR


Ziggy Sands returns to the heart of the Jayhawk defense, rather uncontested for the starting role. Lavonte Murray and Bryce Bourque will both compete to be his successor, but there is also a chance one or both end up taking a redshirt year. De’Anthony Johnson primarily played special teams last year, but could sub in. Tim Wojciechowski also saw time on specials last year, and may continue to see the field there.

At outside backer, Aaron Freeman will continue to play the coverage side LB role. Cooper Morrison slots in at Nelson Velasquez’ spot. Michael Koehn could push Morrison for playing time, but Koehn also seems more likely to solidify into the lineup in Freeman’s eventual vacation, so a redshirt year may be in store. John Heller is a run specialist who could probably kick inside to ILB as a backup rather than playing on the outside, unless the team is playing a run-heavy offense. Alex Boggs and Lew Duggar are guys the coaching staff could see contributing in the future, but they have years of work before they’ll be considered truly impactful.


Secondary

Returning:

CB Chaz Tuivailala – 12 starts, 22 tackles, 7 INT

NB Tim Keller – 22 tackles

SS Larshard Jones – 12 starts, 49 tackles

CB James Davidson – 1 tackle


The Candidates:

CB: James Davidson SR, Tim Keller JR, Chaz Tuivailala SO, Ross Patton FR

FS: Jeff Fife SR, Kevin Suarez JR

SS: Lashard Jones SR, Chance Johnson (SO)

On the Roster:

CB: Ryan Gilliam (JR), Edward Bourque JR, Ryan Parmelee (FR), Warwick Hollins FR, Thon Russell FR

FS: Pedro Murphy SO, Mike Jamerson FR

SS: Rodney Coutee SO


Chaz Tuivailala had 7 interceptions as a true freshman, and the sky is the limit as he heads into year 2. James Davidson is looking to climb from 5th on the DC as a junior to a starting role as a senior, and many believe he’s the best corner in the program. Tim Keller returns as the favored nickel corner. Ross Patton was one of Kansas’ top recruits last year, and could push into the NB/DB role early. Warwick Hollins and Thon Russell are expected to take the year off from playing, as they need to improve physically and mentally before seeing serious roles.

Kevin Suarez was the top backup free safety a year ago, but its an open competition between he, Jeff Fife, and even cornerback Ryan Gilliam for this years initial starting spot. Mike Jamerson will surely see a redshirt season either in 2022 or 2023.

Lashard Jones was a presence in bringing down ball carriers last season, but Chance Johnson has a real… ahem… chance to compete for the starting spot. Expect both to see time this season.


Specialists

Returning:

PK George Jones 14/29 (48.28%) FG, 46 Long, 29/29 XP

PR Aaron Diaz 671 yards, 12.66 avg


The Candidates:

PK: George Jones SO, Jake Ramirez FR

P: Ivan Robinson JR, Juante Green SO, Victor Weigel FR

KR: James Davidson SR, Cody Casspi (SO)

PR: James Davidson SR, Cody Casspi (SO)

On the Roster:

PK: Jeremy Kirkwood SR


Bene – PR – 13, 13, 16, 13

Davidson – PR – 8 – KR - 25

Casspi – KR – 27, 23, 28, 23, 22

Spring play saw Cody Casspi and Bene' Humber get the lion's share of return reps, with both performing about NCAA average. Expect them to get the early nods on the year, though a depth shakeup could happen at some point to provide a spark if things are going shakily.


REDSHIRT REPORT

Kansas officially unveiled their final redshirt report, confirming much of the above speculation.

Kansas seems to legitimately believe Dustin Benintendi may be their QB once Summers and Diaz move on, although whether that's just for one season remains to be seen. Kamalei Lowe is no surprise to take the redshirt year as all of the key reps will be going to Humber, Casspi, and Maysonet - which also leads to Girodo's year off. Some KU insiders believe Alex Takahashi was close to receiving a redshirt as well, and he may be one to put on an early 2023 redshirt watchlist, since the team is raving about the FB duo so much. With Steel Blue performing so well as the TE2, and with Alex Atkins firmly entrenched as the main option, Dylan LaFromboise and Travis Siegrist stand to learn as much as they can this year to help out the teams' future focus. And perhaps most surprisingly is the team's decision to only redshirt one offensive lineman, although it could come with big support of Tim Jarvis, who they love and want to get on the field early, even if its inside rather than on the edge.

Defensively, the redshirt list might come as more of a shock. There was quite a recruiting battle for Thon Russell, and many wondered if he'd get the Chaz Tuivailala treatment and see early reps as a true freshman. But its also clear the Jayhawks are aggressive about keeping their trio of young CBs together as long as possible - and all 3 have been assigned to room together this year. The front 7 was clear from day one - guys looking to takeover soon, are going to learn in the classroom first for mental reps. Lavonte Murray is the set successor to Ziggy Sands at ILB, and Robert Wims will clearly be part of the edge rotation come 2023. Boggs + Koehn are the envisioned replacements for Cooper Morrison (Boggs), who is set to graduate this winter, and Aaron Freeman (Koehn), who could have an explosive year in the spotlight, making him a potential early declaration in the 2023 Draft. And Putkonen is a heralded 3-star who the team wants to start 30+ games.

SCHEDULE
Key Dates:
Week 1 - Michigan
Week 10 - at Wisconsin
Week 14 - Missouri

Kansas will of course fight through Big XII play as tough as the rest of them in this conference, but their Out of Conference scheduling could be key in deciding bowl eligibility. Week 1 Kansas kicks off at home against Michigan, and there's no doubt been plenty of film time dedicated to this game. Kansas also has the following two weeks off afterwards, allowing students and athletes alike to get hyped for a big early matchup, and then have a few relaxing weeks to settle in to school before slogging through a long stretch of conference play. Michigan has a baker's dozen of quarterbacks, while Kansas has two in Summers and Diaz - and the old saying is that if you have two quarterbacks, you have none.

Week 10 could be major in recruiting. Coach @kwheele is a familiar foe, who led the Oklahoma State Cowboys last season. Last year coach Jamzz left in-state Wisconsinites prime for Wisconsin-born coach @Bundy to harvest, with the Jayhawks coming away with key Wisconsin players like Alex Takahashi, Kevon Jeter, Robert Wims, Lew Duggar, and Tim Jarvis. KU coming to America's Dairyland in late autumn may be attractive to TV Networks and recruits far and wide - for both KU and the Badgers.

Week 14, of course, renews a rivalry born in blood. Missouri knocked Kansas from bowl eligibility - and its no secret Mizzewwww and @Nittany Boiler have this game circled again.
 

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