With the 2020 football season only two and a half weeks away, head coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon still have their toughest decision to make as the starting quarterback has yet to be named for the upcoming season.
While the Kansas defense will see a lot of new faces due to players graduating and moving on, the offense has some premium talent returning – particularly at the skill positions.
The Jayhawks have a trio of senior wide receivers returning in Stephon Robinson Jr., Andrew Parchment and Kwamie Lassiter, who have all shown the ability to make big plays.
Parchment – who was a JUCO transfer last year – was named Preseason All-Big 12 after receiving Honorable Mention honors following the 2019 season. He had 65 catches for 829 yards and seven touchdowns a season ago. Robinson finished last season with 73 catches for 727 yards (16.2 average) and eight touchdowns, while Lassiter chipped in 34 catches for 352 yards and one score.
Additionally, the offense returns a pair of experienced, senior tight ends in James Sosinski and Jack Luavasa.
The offensive line will miss former All-Big 12 left tackle Hakeem Adeniji – who was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 6th Round of the 2020 NFL Draft – but the interior of the offensive line returns three starters from last season.
Left guard Malik Clark, center Api Mane and right guard Chris Hughes are all seniors now who should help pave the way for a potent running game. Speaking of…
Two-time First Team All-Big 12 running back Pooka Williams Jr. returns for his junior season as he looks to become the first running back in Kansas history to rush for three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. While that task may be difficult to achieve due to the shortened and unpredictable season that lies ahead, big things are still expected of the college football star.
Behind Williams lies speedy sophomore running back Velton Gardner, who showed flashes of his talent in his 10 game appearances a season ago.
Which brings us to the quarterbacks.
The race seems to be down to 6-foot-5 senior Thomas MacVittie and 5-foot-10 junior Miles Kendrick. MacVittie – a JUCO transfer last year who was expected to win the starting job over Carter Stanley – attempted just one pass last season on a trick play and it got intercepted.
Kendrick, a 2018 JUCO transfer, did not see the field in 2019. However, he did play in four games in 2018 where he was 11 of 19 for 100 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed 16 times for 47 yards and one touchdown – showing his ability to perhaps run this RPO offense of Brent Dearmon’s. During his lone season in junior college, Kendrick threw for 1,889 yards and 18 touchdowns while rushing for 417 yards.
The best choice for the starting quarterback is the one who can take advantage of the pieces around him. There is upperclassmen, talent, and/or experience at nearly every position group on the offense.
If Kansas can correctly solve their seemingly annual starting quarterback question, then things may start looking up for this program hoping to show improvement in year two under Les Miles.