Area talent noticing KU

Wichita Heights senior Gary Chandler likes Kansas. In fact, he likes the Jayhawks quite a bit.

The star running back and defensive back likes Kansas so much that he's named KU his early leader. So far, Kansas is the first and only school to offer Chandler a scholarship and the fact that Chandler's early bird happened to be a Jayhawk bodes especially well for KU's chances according to the Wichita standout.

"It means a lot to me," Chandler said of KU's early offer. "It means they have a head start on a lot of the schools and with them offering me it means they're definitely number one on my list."

That list also includes schools like Kansas State, Tulsa, Arkansas and Florida. The fact that the Razorbacks and Gators are in the picture has taken even Chandler by surprise.

"My recruiting process is going real good. I'm getting more looks than I expected to get. I'd say Arkansas and Florida were a bit of a surprise."

The presence of Kansas, Kansas State and Tulsa in the running for Chandler's services is not a surprise. The Wichita Heights star has strong football bloodlines and has had a relative play football at each one of the schools.

Gary's father, Gary L. Chandler, played at Tulsa. His uncle, Bic, played at Kansas State and another uncle, Dwayne Chandler, played tight end at Kansas from 1990-1993. Even though Gary was very young when Dwayne was wrapping up his career in Lawrence, Gary still remembers Dwayne's KU games and says that was when he first became a Jayhawk fan.

"I've loved KU since I was a kid. I've loved them ever since my uncle played there. There are a countless amount of things that I like about them including how their currently turning the program around."

When the Jayhawks went 6-7 in 2003 and earned a trip to Orlando for the Tangerine Bowl a lot of prep stars in the sunflower state took notice. Chandler is one of those Kansas kids who has been impressed with the quick turnaround ever since Mark Mangino took over in 2002.

"Mark Mangino, he's a real good coach. He's probably one of the best coaches in the country. For him to come in and turn the program around that quick that says a lot about him."

While quick turnaround's are impressive, continued success is ever more outstanding and Kansas State's consistency has caught Chandler's eye.

"I like K-state. I really like how their program has been solid the past few years. They have really good player/coach relationships. I've talked to Rashad Washington about that and that impresses me."

While both Kansas schools have impressed Chandler, a trip to Tulsa's camp did not.

"I like the program at Tulsa, but there are a couple of things about the school that I didn't like. Just the area where it's at and the stadium is kind of old. I didn't see a whole lot there, but my dad will definitely be an influence and so there still in the picture."

That picture will become more and more clear as Chandler's senior season at Wichita Heights progresses. By season's end, Chandler hopes to have a decision made and he says it will likely come without making any official visits.

"I'll probably take a couple unofficial visits, but no official visits."

When asked about the Kansas vs. Tulsa game in Lawrence on September 4th, Chandler excitedly said he'd definitely be in Lawrence.

"Oh yeah, I'm going to be there. That'll probably be the first school I take an unofficial to."

With that season opening college game still a month away, Chandler has more immediate concerns. High school football practice is a little more than two weeks away and after transferring over from Wichita East, Chandler has a new football team to join. After posting over 1500 yards as a junior running back for a losing football team, Chandler hopes to get his stats and get some wins in 2004.

"My goal for the upcoming season is to stay focused, rush for more than I did last year and take my team to state."

The goal of reaching state might seem a little lofty to some, but Chandler has good reasons behind his high expectations.

"We should be real good. I have two cousins there. One is an all-state defensive tackle. So, I know it's a real good team."

There's no doubt Wichita Heights is better now that Chandler is aboard and one college program will be better too, when Gary Jr. makes his pick later this fall. Top Stories