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Kansas lands 18 JUCO players in signing class

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Kansas coach Charlie Weis is looking toward Kansas State as an example for success.

When Weis was offered the job at Kansas, he compared the two rivals teams. Kansas was 2-10 and about 90 miles down the road, Kansas State was 10-2. His Jayhawks finished the season 1-11 and 0-9 in Big 12 play while the Wildcats went 11-2 and are fresh off a Fiesta Bowl appearance.

After another lackluster year, Weis decided to look more closely at Bill Snyder's team. One major part of Kansas State's consistent success has been the role of strong junior college recruiting. Sure enough, as 14 letters of intent arrived on Wednesday, a familiar pattern appeared. His 25-man recruiting class featured 18 players from junior colleges around the country.

"I'll take the 18 junior college players because they are ready to play now," Weis said.

The Jayhawks return 35 letter winners, but only 12 starters so brining in experienced players is key. Marquel Combs, who signed last December, is the perfect example.

He is the top-ranked junior college prospect according to ESPN despite only playing one year of football in high school.

The Memphis native will come to Kansas with two years of eligibility after leaving Pierce College and join a defensive line that lost two starters. He received more than 50 Division 1 offers and chose Kansas from the list.

"We provide a unique opportunity because almost everyone can see themselves getting into the mix," Weis said.

Chris Martin, a transfer from City College of San Francisco and fellow four-star recruit will join Combs on the defensive line.

From there, Weis added nine players who were ranked in Scout.com's top 100 JUCO Players.

On the other end of the spectrum, Weis also nabbed a pair of three-star quarterbacks from Kansas City high schools.

Jordan Darling will graduate from Shawnee Mission East as the top rated pro style quarterback in Kansas. He comes from a military family and has thrown for 1,000 yards in three different states during high school.

He is joined in the class by Montel Cozart, a two-sport letter winner from Bishop Miege who was named the 2011 Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year. He also played for Kansas assistant coach Tim Grunhard before he joined the staff last year.

As he builds the Kansas program, Weis hopes to move away from the junior college model and add in more high schools seniors, but right now he needs results.

"They're much more grown up," said Weis of junior college recruits. "They've got it figured out and physically they're more developed. They're much more ready for the real world."

Weis, who has experience coaching in both college and the NFL, described junior college transfers as the ideal medium.

"These aren't 18-year-old kids," Weis said. "These guys have been weathered. These guys have already had to live a little bit of a rough life. Everything hasn't been handed to them."

Wednesday morning, with this year's class squared away long before deadline, Weis gathered his staff in the morning to start planning for next year. Weis and his staff have a three-year plan for each position, but this year he is satisfied with his second recruiting class at Kansas.

"I feel good that we have filled every hole numerically with guys we thing are pretty good players," Weis said.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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