The beginning of the 2019 college football season this year marks the start of a new era for Kansas football: the Les Miles era.
This off-season, Kansas Athletics hired Miles and inked him to a five-year contract worth about $2.76 million annually. Boasting an overall winning percentage of 72%, multiple SEC championships and a national title, Miles has the most impressive coaching resume of any head coach Kansas has hired in the last decade.
On Kansas football's media day on Friday, Aug. 16, Miles expressed optimism about where he felt the program is headed.
“I can't imagine a quality college town without a great football team," Miles said. "I think you’ll find that this team will understand that and want to be a part of the festivity that surrounds a very quality football team."
Upon coming to Kansas, Miles overhauled the coaching staff by bringing in eight new assistant coaches while only retaining two from last year: running backs coach Tony Hull and safeties coach Clint Bowen.
Under new management, Kansas added several new players who could see significant playing time in year one.
The Jayhawks managed to land the top-rated JUCO quarterback prospect Thomas MacVittie. Though Miles said the position is still up for grabs between him and senior Carter Stanley, many project MacVittie to be the starting quarterback.
Another newcomer to watch is junior wide receiver Ezra Naylor II, a transfer from Iowa Central Community College. Coming in at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Naylor is the biggest wideout on the team in terms of his build. In Kansas’ spring game, he recorded a game high of six catches for 75 yards and snagged the game's only touchdown pass. Naylor could help fill the shoes of last year's top receiver Steven Sims Jr.
On top of the new additions, the Jayhawks return key contributors from a year ago, including a plethora of seniors in running back Khalil Herbert, safety Bryce Torneden, left tackle Hakeem Adeniji, wide receiver Daylon Charlot and cornerback Hasan Defense. Sophomore running back Pooka Williams headlines the bunch after rushing for 1,125 yards with seven total touchdowns in his freshman season.
Miles said at the end of spring he felt as though this year’s Kansas team has a “better talent base” than the one he led in his first year at Oklahoma State.
"I looked at [my] first years at other places. I think we're more talented here in my first year," Miles said. "They have great speed. They work hard. I think they have the ability."
Given that, Kansas’ schedule is fairly favorable for a team that is predicted to finish last in the Big 12 via the conference’s media preseason poll.
The season kicks off at home Aug. 31 against Indiana State at 11 a.m.