Thursday, December 22, 2011
Christmas comes early at KU
By David Ubben
This much we know: Former Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist intends to transfer to Kansas, via his Twitter account on Thursday morning. He picked the Jayhawks over Wisconsin, which housed another transfer, Russell Wilson this season, but lost offensive coordinator Paul Chryst to Pittsburgh, where he'll be the new head coach.
What we don't know: How it affects Kansas.
Jordan Webb grabbed the starting job and put a stop to the revolving door at quarterback that was the 2010 season. He started every game in 2011, and played much better for most of it. He slowed late in the season, though, and with arguably the nation's worst defense, didn't have many chances to do much more than lose the final 10 games of 2011.
Webb emerged as a leader in the offseason after 2010, but this is a whole new regime, and new Kansas coach Charlie Weis recruited Crist to Notre Dame in 2008. The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder came to South Bend as the nation's No. 2 quarterback, behind only Terrelle Pryor and ahead of guys like Landry Jones, Blaine Gabbert, and Andrew Luck. He was the nation's No. 22 overall prospect and started nine games in 2010 before tearing his patellar tendon. He was benched for good in the 2011 season opener.
Weis will be more familiar with him, vs. Webb, who was better this season, but still far from outstanding. He threw for 1,883 yards, 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Crist's physical skills are much better, but he'll have to battle what was his downfall at Notre Dame this season: decision-making, especially in the red zone.
Like Russell Wilson, Crist will be immediately eligible because he's graduated and received his degree. He must now enroll in a graduate program that is not available at Notre Dame. He'll have one remaining year of eligibility.
The news is good for Kansas. The Jayhawks get a big physical upgrade at the most important position in football, the importance of which is amplified in the pass-happy Big 12.
Will that mean a big upgrade in production? We won't know at least until spring, and probably much later.