Just two weeks ago, Kansas had arguably its most successful day of recruiting ever — hosting a Junior Day event that saw six high-level targets commit on the spot and a pair join the fold in the following days.
In the days to come, however, the Jayhawks have seen a pair of decommits
Still, their early haul exceeds any realistic expectation, but there's a long way to go until National Signing Day 2018.
Phog.net spoke with Brandon Huffman, Scout's director of recruiting, about how Kansas can hold on to its current commits and continue to build a program-transforming class in 2018.
On the evolution of Junior Day events. Didn't they use to be just the start of the recruiting relationship?
Huffman: "I think it's changing now. Many schools are starting to have what they call underclassmen days. The whole recruiting cycle has accelerated. You could wait until Junior Day to offer your top targets. You could wait until Junior Day to really try to sell your school. Now, so many of these guys are taking unofficial visits in their freshmen and sophomore years, that you almost need to have an underclassmen day. A lot of kids, you've been recruiting them for six-to-nine months. If you've already offered them, it might be their first time on campus, but you're not trying to lay the ground work at a Junior Day anymore. Now, you're trying to close the deal.
"That's really how it's become over the last three-or-four years. It used to be the unofficial start of the recruiting year was the Junior Days. Now, it's kind of the start of turning the heat up to get the guys to commit."
On the vast success of the Kansas Junior Day
Huffman: "No doubt (on the success). You'd have to go back to the Mack Brown days to see where schools would try to get a ton of commitments on Junior Day. Junior Day was always the day you got kids from out of the area on campus. Now you see schools have these unofficial Junior Days where it's a meet-and-greet every other Saturday, often when there's a home basketball game going on. So there's doing four or five of them rather than one big one. So now it's even more uncommon to see so many guys commit on one day, let along five or six on one day. The Junior Day philosophy has just changed so much. What was accomplished was they built that buzz to get that many guys on board, and so many out-of-state guys. This was just so above and beyond the norm. What Kansas has done here is just so much different than what Junior Days have become in the last few years."
On the struggle to hold on to these high-profile commits with massive offer sheets
Huffman: "Obviously, the biggest struggle is with the out-of-state guys. Now, a couple of these have their LSU offers already, so it's not like Kansas is the best current offer against an unimpressive offer sheet. With (Corione) Harris and (Devonta) Jason, they have LSU offers. To already get those kids when they have a who's who of SEC schools after them, that a huge step. That even adds more enormity to those guy's commitment. The worry with the guys who don't have those SEC-type offers is yeah they committed, but are they just making a reservation, or are they planning on being there for the long haul. If there's something that they consider to be a better offer comes along, and it's more local maybe from the SEC, now your recruiting got that much harder — commitment or not. The guys that already have the SEC offers, now it's just maintenance. Now, it's making sure they hear from you every week. The reality is, those SEC schools aren't quitting. It's not just being content you got the commitment, it's maintaining those relationships each week — every day the best that you can until you get their signature on that letter of intent."
We'll be back with the conclusion of this interview with Scout's Director of Recruiting Brandon Huffman Friday afternoon.