ARLINGTON, Texas — It’s a new era for Kansas football, as the Jayhawks won more than one conference game in 2022 for the first time since 2009. Lance Leipold took the stage at Big 12 media days as the leader of a program that can no longer be viewed at as the doormat of the league.
And while there’s a ton of talent returning for Kansas, led by QB Jalon Daniels, what cannot be overlooked in Kansas’ rebuild is the staff that Leipold has put together.
During his press conference on Wednesday, Leipold said that this is the first time in 20 years Kansas is returning its entire coaching staff.
“Last year was an exciting year for us to take a big step forward as a program,” Leipold said. “We’re excited to take another step this year.”
And if KU does take that next step this year, the offense will have to be a huge reason why, with Daniels being named the Big 12 Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Along with Daniels, the creativity of offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki was on full display last season. And thankfully for KU, he signed a contract extension to stay in Lawrence.
“Our university has made a commitment to our staff,” Leipold said. “I’ve known what a great coach Andy is for some time. Andy will be a head coach some day, there’s no doubt about that.”
KU not only has the head coach to lead this program out of obscurity, but he also has the staff, and players, which creates a situation the Jayhawks haven’t experienced in a decade and a half.
Kansas is coming off a 6-7 season, its best finish since 2008. In Lance Leipold’s second season, the Jayhawks made the Liberty Bowl, where Arkansas outlasted KU in a 55-53 3OT thriller.
Offensively, Kansas returns nearly everyone from an impressive unit in 2022, led the aforementioned Daniels. Kansas’ leading rusher, Devin Neal, returns as well and will have a veteran offensive line returning.
Defensively, the Jayhawks return seven starters, highlighted by Cobee Bryant and Kenny Logan Jr. in the defensive backfield.
KU added some very important pieces in the transfer portal this offseason, starting with former five-star offensive tackle Logan Brown (Wisconsin). Brown’s addition to an already experienced offensive line makes this unit even stronger than it was a season ago. On the defensive side of the ball, KU adds JB Brown (Bowling Green) at linebacker, which should help them improve on that side of the ball.
Kansas opens up the 2023 season at Missouri State on August 31, and will kickoff the Big 12 slate against BYU on September 23.