Kansas lands quarterback, running back from Mississippi JUCO

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Kansas coach David Beaty may have landed his quarterback of the future out of a Mississippi junior college. He might have landed his running back from there, too.

The Jayhawks unveiled a 27-member class on national signing day Wednesday that was highlighted by former Washington State quarterback Peyton Bender and running back Octavius Matthews. Both of them spent last season at Itawamba Community College, where they emerged as high-level recruits.

''It feels like a win,'' Beaty said of landing them, ''and that's what it should feel like.''

Bender arrived on campus at the semester and will compete with Carter Stanley for the starting job this spring. But Matthews was a major surprise, considering the nation's top JUCO running back decommitted from Auburn just last week and was also considering Louisville and Tennessee.

''I talked to him throughout the day. We've had communication throughout the recruiting process,'' Bender said. ''I just told him throughout the process to make your own decision.''

Other things to know:

Top 25 Class: No

Best in class: Matthews and Dominic Williams, RB, Independence, Texas. Matthews has the ability to play running back or in the slot, while Williams capped his prep career as one of the state's leading rushers. Both should be able to help the Jayhawks immediately.

Best of the rest: Bender remained committed to the Jayhawks despite late overtures from Georgia, and the big-armed quarterback can make all the throws. Helping his cause is his familiarity with the Air Raid offense, which he played in at Washington State and Beaty uses at Kansas.

Late addition: Matthews was the biggest surprise of the class, faxing in his letter of intent on Wednesday. He should help cover the loss of running back Ke'aun Kinner to graduation.

One that got away: Grant Polley, OL, Denton, Texas. The Jayhawks were among the first to offer Polley, and he was a soft verbal commitment for a while. He ultimately chose Colorado.

How they'll fit in: The Jayhawks were desperate to add defensive backfield depth after losing three starters to graduation, and they largely accomplished that by signing four recruits. Hasan Defense from Kilgore Community College in Texas and Shakial Taylor from Mesa Community College in Arizona have already signed with the Jayhawks and should be able to help immediately, and safety Antonio Cole from Highland Community College in Kansas was a late addition.

The biggest prize among them could be Robert Topps III, one of the top players from the Chicago area, who has the size at 6-2, 185 pounds to allow the Jayhawks to play more physically.

On offense, the big question will be whether Bender can beat out Stanley for the starting job this spring. Stanley showed some moxie after taking over the starting job last season, and Beaty has raved about his ability to make plays when everything breaks down.


For the full list: http://www.kuathletics.com/


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