How much ground did Kansas have to make up in recruiting?

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It’s difficult to make up time in recruiting Landen Lucas Jersey, but that’s exactly what Kansas football coach David Beaty and his staff had to do when he first arrived on campus.

Looking over to junior defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr., the Big 12’s preseason defensive player of the year, at the conference’s media days Monday, Beaty said it was a “miracle” that he was suiting up for the Jayhawks.


When Beaty was hired in December 2014, he had about a month to solidify his recruiting class prior to Signing Day. Back then, Armstrong was seen as an undersized defensive end and still looking for a landing spot.

Searching for hidden gems, Beaty and his staff identified Armstrong as one of their top targets. But they were still reaching out to Armstrong much, much later than most of the schools recruiting him.

Armstrong remembered when he received text messages from former KU defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux, who is now at Oklahoma, and realized that he watched him at one of his basketball games.

“I was like, ‘He was at a basketball game?’” Armstrong said. “ Thibodeaux motivated me so much. He spoke positive to me all the time about what I could be and just put that in my head. I think I built on everything that he told me. I just kept that mindset of being humble and always wanted more.”

Following his final prep football season, Armstrong immediately turned his attention to his basketball team. Playing in the low post for North Shore High in Houston, Armstrong averaged 7.2 points and a team high 6.6 rebounds. His school won a state championship in his junior year.

How much ground did Kansas have to make up in recruiting?

Armstrong said he didn’t have a relationship with Beaty or really anyone from Kansas before the start of his basketball season.

“I think coach Beaty came to my high school, but he came for someone else,” Armstrong said. “I didn’t remember him at the time.”

One of the things that drew Armstrong to Kansas was the chance to play defensive end.

It seems like an obvious decision now, but some schools tried to convince Armstrong, who showed up to campus weighing around 210 pounds, to move to linebacker because of his size.

“I never played linebacker,” Armstrong said. “I was always a D end. I kind of made myself stay at that same spot.”

During one in home visit, Kansas coaches Clint Bowen and Thibodeaux were visiting with Armstrong and his family when assistant coaches from Missouri showed up outside of the home. The KU coaches did their best to stall, forcing the Missouri coaches to wait outside.

Focused on playing throughout the basketball season, Armstrong was on a limited schedule in terms of making visits to schools.

After traveling to Kansas, he decided it was the only place he wanted to check out.

“My mom came on the visit and she loved it,” Armstrong said. “She loved the coaches. Even the players made her feel like they were going to take care of me. That’s what they were doing. We don’t bring anyone in to just leave them hanging.”

Three years later and Armstrong arrived back in his home state as the face of the Kansas football program.

“We had literally a month to recruit this kid — a month,” Beaty said. “It was difficult because Missouri came in late. Thankfully they didn’t go on that visit because it made it a little bit easier for us.”


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