Head Coach: Les Miles
2018 Record: 3-9, 1-8 Conference
O/U 3 wins (O +110; U -140)
National Title: +200000
Les Miles takes over as coach at Kanas after signing a five-year deal to guide the program. The Jayhawks are one of the biggest rebuilding tasks, but the 65-year-old Miles is up for the task, adding that he would like to finish his career with a championship. Kansas has a scholarships deficit due to the JUCO recruits that failed to pay off under Charlie Weis and Beaty.
Miles will inherit one of his own recruits in Thomas MacVittie at quarterback. He is a 6’5” QB who was one of Miles’ first signing upon joining KU. He is ranked the top JUCO pro-style QB in the nation, and the position has been one of poor production recently for Kansas. MacVittie was stuck with special teams roles during his two years at Pittsburgh and finally gets his shot at being a quarterback.
The team is stronger and more certain in its backfield. Pooka Williams Jr. was picked as Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year in 2018, and though he was suspended during the offseason due to domestic battery, he signed a diversion agreement with the D.A. and is likely to face a short suspension at most. Khalil Herbert enters his senior season and he has been good over the past two seasons while healthy. Junior Dom Williams and true freshman Amauri Pesek-Hickson both will get touches, too.
The WRs are unproven but have high potential. Daylon Charlot underachieved with the past regime but he could flourish for Miles. He had just 12 catches last season, but during the spring he looked to be one of the better wideout options. JUCO wideouts Ezra Naylor and Andrew Parchment both are promising, too. At 6’4” and 6’2” they add some length and playmaking for MacVittie to air it out with.
At left tackle, Hakeem Adeniji is a star of a line that returns eight as juniors or seniors.
The front seven are KU’s biggest concern with five of them lost due to graduation. The team will move to a 3-4 defense under coordinator DJ Eliot. The Jayhawks lose both captains of its defense in Daniel Wise and Joe Dienen Jr. Both were drafted after earning All-Big 12 picks.
Freshman DT DaJon Terry will be a key rotation player if he is in good physical shape. And Linebackers Steven Parker and Gavin Peter both will see PT early. The best part of KU’s defense is its secondary, though, where safety Mike Lee is a big-time hitter. He was one of the best in the defensive unit last year. Corione Harris played 11 games as a true freshman after coming in as one of the program’s biggest defensive recruits ever. Hasan Defense and the back end are strong in a Big 12 that is pass-heavy, so that is as good an area as any to be fortified at.
Williams made the All-Big 12 kickoff returner first team last year, and Kyle Thompson had a strong first year as a punter. Thompson finished with a 43.3-yard average. Placekicker Gabriel Rui will be replaced with junior Liam Jones and true freshman Jacob Borcila.
Kansas has to be excited about landing a coach like Miles, but the man took on one of the toughest rebuilds in the entire NCAA. The early-season schedule is on the soft side, so Kansas ideally needs to get wins against both Indiana State and Coastal Carolina to build some positivity and momentum early on. The defense is just so inexperienced and no matter how good Miles is, this is going to take more than one season to turn around.
Prediction: 3 wins