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Kansas Football’s Resurrection: It’s Not Just Flash in a Pan

Dec 26, 2023; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Kansas Jayhawks head coach Lance Leipold looks on during the first quarter against the UNLV Rebels in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas Jayhawks continue to take the 2024 offseason by storm. Not only are the Jayhawks projected to win the Big 12 according to ESPN’s initial FPI ranking, but KU is having its best recruiting offseason in program history. Over the weekend, things continued to turn up crimson and blue for the Jayhawks as Kansas was able to snag in-state recruit Tate Nagy, son of Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy.

Nagy isn’t some big five-star prospect. In fact, he currently isn’t ranked by the various recruiting services, but that will change soon. He recently switched position groups from quarterback to wide receiver but swiftly began moving up recruiting boards as he went through the summer camp circuit. Getting a commitment from Nagy matters for Kansas, not just short-term but it also holds weight in long-term ramifications as well.

 

The Jayhawks will now have two names with NFL ties on their roster. While it’s not unique for college programs to get the kids of former players to certain programs around the country, seeing names like quarterback Cole Ballard, and now Nagy, on the roster is meaningful. Ballard, of course, is the son of Colts General Manger and former Chiefs assistant General Manager Chris Ballard.

Kansas head coach Lance Leipold’s rebuild has been catching attention nationally, but when it comes to recruiting and gaining the trust of parents like the Ballard and Nagy families, this can help take the Jayhawks to another level. Like we’ve seen with Colorado and their brand equity since head coach Deion Sanders took over the program, Leipold and the Jayhawks are starting to show the nation Kansas isn’t just a basketball school anymore.

When you see guys like Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes attending your high school games, there’s bound to be some hype and a cool factor surrounding those games. They were at Blue Valley West supporting the Nagy’s multiple times the last couple of years, cheering on from lawn chairs. Dudes being dudes. Stuff like that matters when it comes to recruiting. Will Mahomes and Kelce show up to Jayhawk games this fall? They won’t have to drive far as the Jayhawks will be playing in the Chiefs’ home stadium during conference play. Of course, they will have their own busy schedules to consider this fall, but it’s just another angle to consider when it comes to the Jayhawks’ rise on the national radar.

 

Leipold is building something at Kansas that has sustainability potential. That’s something that has never been done for the Jayhawk football program since its inception in 1890. This is a groundbreaking and generational change that Leipold has made at the University of Kansas, and the floor isn’t about to drop out anytime soon. Leipold is building this program the right way, from the ground up, and it’s been impressive to watch. In a time when the transfer portal can work against a football school like Kansas, the Jayhawks have been able to keep their key players around and add to their growing stable of players while still recruiting high school at a high level.

After being rumored for some high-profile jobs at Wisconsin, Michigan, and Washington, among others, Leipold chose to remain in Kansas. During this offseason, Leipold amended his current contract to remain at Kansas through at least 2029 and will be paid over $7 million per season during that span. As long as Leipold is leading this team, the Jayhawks will be just fine.

Many people are just waiting for the other shoe to drop on the Kansas football program, but Leipold has the Jayhawks on solid footing. Much like in-state rival Kansas State’s depths of despair before legendary head coach Bill Snyder arrived, Leipold has given the Jayhawks a similar feel. Bet against Kansas this fall (and beyond, for that matter) if you want, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

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