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January 19, 2012

Weis' first Kansas class filled with transfers

When hired as Kansas' football coach last month, Charlie Weis said there was a need for a change in attitude.

A change in aptitude would appear more pressing.

Kansas has managed just five victories the past two seasons while getting some of the worst defensive play and lackluster quarterback performances in the country.

But just over a month on the job, Weis already has assembled arguably the school's best football recruiting class ever.

Well, sort of.

Thus far, Kansas has received commitments from only nine players in the Class of 2012, none of whom is rated higher than a three-star prospect by Rivals.com.

But when you add quarterback transfers Dayne Crist (from Notre Dame), Jake Heaps (from BYU) and wide receiver transfer Justin McCay (from Oklahoma), the Jayhawks' list of newcomers looks much more impressive.

Crist is eligible to play in 2012 because he had already graduated from Notre Dame, while Heaps must sit out a year. McCay's playing status is uncertain, but he'll likely have to sit out a year, too.

Crist was a five-star rated prospect and the nation's No. 2 rated pro-style quarterback when Weis, then Notre Dame's coach, recruited him to South Bend back in 2008.

Kansas hasn't signed a five-star prospect since Rivals.com began ranking players in 2002. So, in a sense, Crist is the Jayhawks' first five-star player.

Also, Heaps and McCay were four-star prospects coming out of high school in 2010. That would put a five-star and two four-stars on the Jayhawks' roster.

Kansas' recruiting classes usually feature more two-stars than a Nicolas Cage film festival. Their highest-rated class was the 2009 group (No. 31), which included four four-star prospects.

Doubts remain whether Kansas, a basketball-oriented university in an area short on big-time recruits, can ever truly become a legitimate football contender.

Kansas finished the 2007 season ranked No. 7 after going 12-1, but success has been sparse. The Jayhawks it haven't won a football championship since sharing the old Big Eight crown with Oklahoma in 1968.

[ More Kansas: JayhawkSlant.com ]

Weis feels he can change that - and he looks to rival Kansas State for inspiration.

"The University of Kansas was 2-10," Weis said in December. "The other major school, Kansas State, was 10-2. I only have one question to ask: Why? I don't have that answer, but that's what I'm here for. I'm here to find out why that is and see what we're going to do to change that, that's the bottom line."

The real bottom line is that Kansas State has done a better job recruiting, particularly from junior colleges.

Weis is following that game plan.

So far, Kansas has commitments from five JUCO players: TE Charles Brooks of Scottsdale (Az.) CC, RB Taylor Cox of College of the Siskiyous (Cal.), WR Josh Ford of Arizona Western CC, DT Ty McKinney of Trinity Valley (Texas) CC and DE Keon Stowers of Georgia Military College.

However, perhaps ean ven greater difference between Kansas and Kansas State was quarterback play.

Last season Kansas State's Collin Klein emerged as one of the most effective quarterbacks in the quarterback-laden Big 12. He passed for 1,918 yards and rushed for 1,141 while accounting for 40 touchdowns. He threw six interceptions.

By comparison, Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb passed for 1,884 yards with 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and had minus 86 rushing yards because of sacks.

The addition of Crist could be an immediate upgrade.

Crist had problems at Notre Dame, but as a pro-style passer he was not ideally suited for the spread offense of Irish coach Brian Kelly.

He did throw for 2,033 yards and 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions in an injury-shortened 2010 season. He's a better fit in Weis' pro-style system.

"We have developed such a level of trust with each other," Crist told JayhawkSlant.com about his relationship with Weis. "We know that we will always be honest with each other. I understand how he coaches and he knows how I play. We get what makes each other tick.

"You can move past all the introduction stages and really get to football. I understand his offense having played in it for two years. I'm excited to get back and be coached by him."

The Jayhawks have a long way to go to be successful, and it's going to take more than a new quarterback to get there.

Weis vowed he was going to make painful strides in that direction in spring drills.

"It's not going to be pleasant around here in the spring time," Weis warned Jayhawks players.

Well, the autumns haven't been very pleasant around Lawrence, either.

For now, Jayhawks fans would be happy with a good signing class in February - even if it's boosted by December transfers.

Olin Buchanan is a senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.



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