LAWRENCE — Technical difficulties prevented D.J. Eliot and Clint Bowen from live-streaming the moment Kansas football pulled off one of its biggest signing day coups.
Given a play-by-play of how Wednesday’s melodramatic commitment ceremony unfolded, however, the Jayhawk defensive coaches couldn’t help but crack a smile.
KU received a national letter of intent from Gavin Potter, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound linebacker out of Broken Arrow, Okla. If that name sounds familiar to KU fans living in households divided, it should — the consensus three-star player was committed to Kansas State before flipping to the Jayhawks, one of 19 players in first-year head coach Les Miles’ inaugural recruiting haul.
That Potter switched allegiances isn’t altogether surprising — prospects often flip-flop until their name is inked on a dotted line. The way he chose to announce his decision, though, was straight out of the world of professional wrestling.
Sporting a purple K-State hoodie, Potter peeled that top off to reveal a red undershirt featuring the Texas Tech logo — the linebacker was also considering the Red Raiders, whose uniform he wore in a Tuesday post to his Instagram.
A lone individual in the crowd applauded, but Potter wasn’t finished. Just a moment later, he yanked off the T-shirt to reveal a blue-painted chest with a white “KU” logo smack-dab in the middle.
Out of upper-body garments to sustain the suspense, Potter stood up, grinned and did a spin, pointing both thumbs at the words “JAYHAWK 12” scribbled on his back.
“It doesn’t surprise me he did that,” laughed Eliot, the team’s new defensive coordinator who said he identified Potter as a must-have talent, reaching out to the recruit on Day 1 of his own KU tenure. ”... This guy is a player. He’s big, strong, athletic. He can run. He can tackle. He’s instinctive. He makes good decisions. He can do everything that you want as a defensive player.”
Potter was just one piece of a recruiting haul that, given the circumstances inherited by Miles, appeared to come together late in a big way.
“Great day for Kansas football,” Miles said Wednesday. “We had 19 signees. There’s a rare combination here between strong and thick and physical and athletic, and with speed. The Kansas brand helped us tremendously.”
Other 11th-hour highlights from the team’s Class of 2019 haul include four-star linebacker Steven Parker (6-4, 220-pounder out of Dallas), three-star running back/athlete and former Michigan commit Amauri Pesek-Hickson (6-foot, 225-pounder out of Olathe) and three-star cornerback/athlete Kenny Logan (6-foot, 195-pounder out of St. Augustine, Fla.). They join early signees Thomas MacVittie (6-5, 225-pound quarterback), Jayden Russell (6-3, 190-pound safety) and DaJon Terry (6-4, 350-pound defensive lineman), among others, as freshly minted Jayhawks.
“This class will have the ability to compete for championships,” Miles said. “It’s the style of team, the speed that will develop and develop nicely. So we’re proud.”
Miles’ first recruiting process at KU was somewhat of a scramble.
His original pick for offensive coordinator, Chip Lindsey, departed for the Troy head coaching job after just a month in Lawrence. Miles on Wednesday acknowledged a “methodical” hiring process of assistant coaches that delayed getting bodies into high school players’ living rooms. David Beaty left his successor an estimated 15 scholarships on hand.
Despite those obstacles, the Jayhawks’ incoming class ranked 64th at recruiting outlet 247Sports’ team composite rankings as of Wednesday afternoon — just three spots below K-State and six ahead of Texas Tech, two fellow Big 12 programs also undergoing an offseason of coaching upheaval.
KU can at least give partial credit for that ranking to Potter, the former Wildcat and Red Raider target.
“I was in the bad Wi-Fi room so I didn’t get to see (the commitment), but that’s interesting. He was a lot of fun,” said Bowen, now the team’s safeties coach. ”... We’ve had success with kids like him. I’m gonna throw some names out: James Holt, Derek Fine, Marcus Henry, Scott Webb, Jake Laptad — we’ve had some Oklahoma kids come up that fit the same mold he did that really had an impact on our program.”
Poaching a player away from K-State was an extra gratifying feeling for boastful KU fans on social media, but if that sentiment was shared by members of the Jayhawk coaching staff, it wasn’t expressed.
“I’ll be honest with you: I just want to get the best players we can get,” Eliot said. “I’m just gratified that Gavin Potter chose to come here. He obviously had many other options because he’s such a good player, but the fact that he chose us is a testament to this staff’s recruiting.”
Trolling future conference rivals appeared to give Potter a thrill, but when it comes to Miles, both the team’s recruiting gets and simply being back in the game provided more than enough fun.
“I’m fired up, but I want to bring a quality athlete to a place that’s going to take care of them,” Miles said. “This is that place.”
KU RECRUITING CLASS
(x-signed with KU during the December signing period)
(#-enrolled at KU in January 2019)
Name, position, height, weight, previous school
x-Valerian Agbaw, CB, 5-10, 170, McEachern (Ga.) HS
Jacob Borcila, K, 6-2, 170, Westerville Central (Ohio) HS
x-Mason Fairchild, TE, 6-5, 250, Andale HS
Velton Gardner, RB, 5-9, 190, Skyline (Texas) HS
Marcus Harris, DL, 6-2, 265, Parker Crossing (Ala.) HS
x-Malcolm Lee, DL, 6-5, 290, Iowa Western CC
x#-Torry Locklin, QB, 6-2,195, Rockdale (Texas) HS
Kenny Logan, CB, 6-0, 195, Menendez (Fla.) HS
x#-Thomas MacVittie, QB, 6-5, 225, Mesa (Ariz.) CC
Jordan Medley, QB, 6-2, 200, A.L. Brown (N.C.) HS
x#-Ezra Naylor, WR, 6-4, 210, Iowa Central CC
x#-Andrew Parchment, WR, 6-2, 185, Iowa Central CC
Steven Parker, LB, 6-4, 220, South Oak Cliff (Texas) HS
Amauri Pesek-Hickson, RB, 6-0, 225, Blue Valley North HS
Gavin Potter, LB, 6-2, 205, Broken Arrow (Okla.) HS
Jereme Robinson, LB, 6-3, 235, Carver (Ala.) HS
x-Jayden Russell, S, 6-3, 190, St. Thomas Aquinas HS
x-Caleb Sampson, DL, 6-3, 280, Coahoma (Miss.) CC
x-DaJon Terry, DL, 6-4, 350, Meridian (Miss.) HS