Kansas Jayhawks: Impact players for 2017

By: Cullen Clark

Twitter: @Cullen_B12C

The Jayhawks are coming off a 2-10 season (1-8 in Big 12) in which their only victories were over an abysmal Rhode Island team and Texas. Yes, as most of you are probably aware of the Jayhawks beat the Longhorns in Lawrence last year. Even with this lowly record there was a different vibe to the Jayhawks last season than there has been in quite some time. As we said numerous times on the podcast we feel that Coach Beaty is doing a great job at turning around the program. If the Jayhawks can maintain the current momentum in the 2018 recruiting class and build off of the Texas victory there is no reason that this team couldn’t be fighting for bowl eligibility in the next few seasons.

Returning Impact Player

Mike Lee – Safety

Anybody who watched any Kansas game last year is going to be familiar with Mike Lee. He burst on the scene during the Jayhawks game against Texas Tech with some monster hits and from there the highlight hits just kept coming. With the loss of Fish Smithson to the NFL draft a lot will be expected and needed from Lee this season. Luckily for the Jayhawks I think he will not only step up to fill Smithson’s shoes but will excel. I expect him to be in All-Conference discussion by the time the season is over.

Incoming Impact Player

Peyton Bender – QB

One of the main problems with the Jayhawks last year was an inconsistent offense and brutal turnovers. It seemed that the defense would take one step forward and then the offense would take two steps back all year. With the transfers of Montell Cozart (Boise St) and Ryan Willis (Virginia Tech) there is an open QB competition between Bender and Carter Stanley. While Stanley played well at times last year I do think that Peyton Bender will win the job and emerge as the starter. As a sophomore at Itawamba Community College he completed 65% of his passes for 2,733 yards with 21 touchdown passes to just 4 interceptions. If he can maintain the accuracy and the lack of turnovers he will be a big boost to the offense. He will have plenty of weapons to work with at wider receiver with Steven Sims Jr., LaQuvionte Gonzalez, and Daylon Charlot.

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