College football recruiting: Kansas, Les Miles to host virtual junior day amid coronavirus concerns

At Kansas, closing the gap with the rest of the Big 12 on the recruiting trail requires some creativity. Well, they say that necessity is the mother of invention, and Les Miles’ staff has certainly stepped up their efforts in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. Many schools have shut down all athletics indefinitely and the NCAA has issued a mandatory dead period for recruiting, canceling previously scheduled on-campus events for high school prospects all across the country. 

Kansas’ junior day, originally scheduled for Saturday, March 21 in Lawrence, will now take place virtually Thursday on the program’s social media channels with enhanced personalized experiences for top prospects through FaceTime. According to 247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong, the pivot to a virtual recruiting experience was led by director of player personnel Dave Shumate and director of recruiting Will Redmond. 

“To give you the full rundown of it basically for us as a staff was how do we find a way when no-one can come see us they can still see what makes Kansas a great football program from the comfort of their home and safety of their home,” Redmond said via 247Sports. “Obviously social media is a major part of recruiting so utilizing it to showcase our campus, our staff and our personality, which are kind of the main pieces of a junior day, that was the main point of it.”

Every hour starting at 9 a.m. CT, recruits, their families and even the public will be able to view content that will highlight all kinds of aspects surrounding the Kansas football experience. From virtual campus and facilities tours to presentations about nutrition and academics, the day will unfold much like a visit to Lawrence, complete with an introduction to the coaching staff and Les Miles himself in the early evening. 

While fans can get their own recruiting trip kicks in by following along on social media, however, they won’t be getting the full red-carpet treatment afforded to the top names on Kansas’ recruiting board. Redmond told 247Sports that in addition to the virtual tours and presentations, the top prospects are going to be FaceTiming with Miles and the coaching staff throughout the day, in addition to receiving personal graphics and videos to enhance their experience. 

When college football recruiting efforts were suspended by many schools and most major conferences late last week, Barton Simmons pointed out on the Cover 3 Podcast the one aspect of recruiting, in particular, would be impacted significantly by the “new normal”: the evaluation process. Without the same opportunities to connect to the players individually, programs aren’t able to obtain the same kind of information that helps them organize their recruiting efforts. 

Here with Kansas, we see an example of a program that is not a traditional recruiting power trailblazing forward in hopes to enhance its brand and create those connections that will help them begin to close the gap on the recruiting trail against the rest of the Big 12. 

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