The 2018 offseason takes on a much different tone than the previous ones.
The 2017 football offseason came with palpable excitement. Kansas had just beaten Texas in football, a group of four-star Louisiana prep recruits committed to the Jayhawks and David Beaty had just signed an extension. Fast forward one year and the tone around the program has taken a drastic, negative dive. David Beaty now sits at number one on coacheshotseat.com, and only two of the four-star Louisiana kids stayed committed. How did we end up here?
For starters, expectations should have been lower. KU was preseason projected 107th in Bill Connelly’s S&P+ rankings, ranking dead last among power-five teams. Despite this, fan hopes were high following the big win against Texas and the emergence of some promising young players. The reality is that the Jayhawks were losing a lot, predominantly in their secondary, spelling a true recipe for disaster in the Big 12. Losing key receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez hurt the Jayhawks thin and young receiving core. In a vacuum, Kansas fans really shouldn’t have expected too much from their 2017 squad.
The lack of improvement among the young stars and the underwhelming debuts of the highly touted newcomers killed the 2017 season. Safety Mike Lee, a 2016 freshman All-American, hit a sophomore slump. Pre-Season Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Dorrance Armstrong had a propensity to disappear at times as offenses keyed on him. Washington State transfer Peyton Bender quickly showed that he couldn’t produce behind an abysmal offensive line. Finally, and most depressingly, the two Alabama transfers made no impact during the season. Tackle Charles Baldwin might not even be on the roster and wide receiver Daylon Charlot ended the season as a third-string safety. Beaty’s inability to develop and properly deploy talent is another reason he is on the hot seat.
Recruiting was another area where Kansas fell short this past season. Beaty took an ambitious approach by targeting some of Texas and Louisiana’s highest rated prospects. When the season began to take a nosedive, the prospects began to jump ship. Eleven different prospects decommitted this past fall. In order to make up for these misses, the coaching staff loaded up on JUCO prospects weakening an already thin 2022 senior class.
Heading into the long 2018 offseason, expectations are at an all-time low. The failures of the 2017 campaign led to recruiting misses that could cause roster holes in 2021 and 2022. Fans can’t expect players to develop properly, given the widespread regression on last year’s squad. This season, it is vital that David Beaty’s team shows development and improvement on the field. Based on 2017, it is hard to believe that will happen.