Football vs. West Virginia.jpg

Senior linebacker Azur Kamara rushes the quarterback. Kansas fell to West Virginia 29-24 Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. 

Column

Two former Kansas football players appeared at the 2020 NFL Combine in Indianapolis Thursday, Feb. 27. Senior Offensive lineman Hakeem Adeniji and senior outside linebacker Azur Kamara are getting set to share their skills.

“Coach Miles, the whole year he was there prepared me,” Adeniji said in a press conference days before the Combine. “He’s been getting me ready for not only the combine but for the whole process and it’s been a big help having him by my side and in my corner.” 

While Adeniji and Kamara have the chance to join some of Kansas football’s legendary alumni in the NFL, there are fewer players making it professionally out of Kansas’ program. Fans of the Jayhawks may be sending their best wishes to these two linemen, but there is an issue with the diminishing amount of Jayhawks making it into the NFL.

The big question is, will Les Miles’ staff be able to turn that trend around?

Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. are some of the most notable players who made it out of Kansas, but they are only among eight total former Jayhawks active in the NFL.

This number is astonishingly low compared to other Big 12 competitors. Aside from Iowa State (with six active NFL players), the Big 12 conference schools have anywhere from 13 to 38 players in the league right now. This comparison doesn’t look great to recruits and provides a glaring weak spot to our competition.

The future is looking brighter than it has in recent years for Kansas. The most recent Jayhawk to successfully make it into the NFL was wide receiver Steven Sims Jr., who played under former coach David Beaty. Sims did not find success in the 2019 NFL Draft but was signed to the Washington Redskins as an undrafted free agent that same year. 

In the coming seasons, expect Miles and his new coaching staff to prioritize the molding of current players into NFL-ready athletes.

Until then, Kansas football needs to recognize the need to shift into generating more NFL potential players if they want to look more attractive to new recruits down the line. 

You can keep track of Adeniji and Kamara’s progress with the NFL Combine Results Tracker throughout the weekend.  

—Edited by Courtney Riede