Future Jayhawk is pure speed

When Turner Gill was announced as the head coach at the University of Kansas in December, he said he wanted to recruit speed. Fortunately for him and the Jayhawks, recent commit Adonis Saunders has plenty of it.

For adults, an old adage dictates that there are but two certainties in life – death and taxes.

For high school athletes in the Kansas City metropolitan area – and really, the entire state of Kansas – there exists another:

Adonis Saunders is faster than you.

As a sophomore at Olathe (KS) North High School in the spring of 2008, Saunders took home gold medals in both the 100 and 200-meter dashes in Class 6A, at the Kansas State High School Activities Association state track meet. Though a hamstring injury may have kept him from defending his crown in 2009, Saunders is far from a one-trick pony.

Since his sophomore season, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound speed king has been a fixture on the North football team. Under Head Coach Pete Flood, Saunders has long been a key component of the Eagles' success, particularly on defense where – as both a defensive back and hybrid linebacker – he has earned a reputation as a punishing hitter.

Moved to cornerback approximately a month ago, the senior is quickly adapting to another new position while also carrying the load of the North offense as the starting running back.

"His ability to be physical and tackle as well as cover receivers," Flood said, when asked for Saunders' strengths on defense. "He's making improvements weekly in that area of his game. He's just a very good, explosive athlete that we utilize on both sides of the ball."

And next season, he'll be bringing that explosiveness to the University of Kansas.

The Jayhawks coaching staff had long been familiar with Saunders' speed and athleticism, and had hoped to get a closer look at him during one of the program's summer camps. Unfortunately, the same hamstring injury that kept him from finishing the track season kept him from participating.

In him, the coaches saw a great deal of potential at cornerback. The problem, however, was that Saunders had never really played cornerback, and chances to defend passes were minimal in the run heavy Sunflower League.

Instead, they opted to bide their time, and when he was switched to cornerback it didn't take long for the Jayhawks to see what they needed to see.

They offered Saunders a scholarship Oct. 23. After discussing it with his family, he accepted Oct. 25.

College coaches probably wish all recruitments went that smoothly.

Not that the offer was a total surprise. Running backs coach – and Saunders' lead recruiter Reggie Mitchell – informed the local standout that an offer would be forthcoming a few days before his visit to campus took place.

"He called me like, three days ahead of time, and told me that they were going to do it officially on Saturday," he said. "I was kind of expecting it, and it was still amazing."

Saunders has always been interested in Kansas, as a fan of the program, but one of the things that helped put the Jayhawks over the top was the ease with which he took to Mitchell.

"He's a really good guy," he said. "We have a really good relationship, and we still do. We stay in touch and everything."

Now, with his commitment behind him, Saunders is free to focus on helping the Eagles repeat as Kansas Class 6A state football champions – and finally look forward to reclaiming his now-vacated track titles, of course.

"It feels great," he said, of making his pledge to the Jayhawks. "It actually feels great to get the recruiting process out of the way and know where I'm going to go next year. To be comfortable and know where I'm going to be."


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