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Big time KU football commitment the latest sign of serious progress

4-star offensive lineman prospect Juju Marks elects to stay close to home

3 min read
A packed house for Kansas football games has become the norm in recent years, and there are all kinds of reasons why. [Chance Parker photo]

The Kansas football program landed a commitment from 4-star offensive lineman Juju Marks over the weekend, giving them five commitments in the high school class of 2025 to date.

We’ll get to Marks and why landing him is a big deal here in a minute.

But let’s spend a few minutes putting the whole picture in context before we do.

First, let’s look at that KU commitment list. It features four 3-star prospects and Marks. But, according to their ratings at, at least a couple of those 3-star prospects are awfully close to being 4-star guys.

They might not get there, but their overall rating suggests that they’re right there and on the upper end of the 3-star ratings.

While that might not win games or make national news, it’s also not nothing.

In the context of the long road that is the KU football rebuilding project, it’s also a huge part of why things are going so well within the program these days.

And, in a sense, it’s sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

• Program stinks and can’t recruit from the same pool as the conference contenders.

• Program gets better.

• Interest from players in that pool goes up. Program gets way better.

• Commitments from players in that pool start to come.

• Those commitments open the eyes of other prospects around the country and interest from even higher rated prospects starts to increase, as well.

On and on it goes, and that’s been a big part of why Leipold and his staff have started to add some pretty significant prospects on the recruiting trail during the past couple of years.

Marks is certainly one of them. And he is for a couple of reasons.

First, he’s a local kid. Every coach at just about every big time program will tell you that the ability to have recruiting success close to home is a must.

KU has talked about it for years, with every coach they’ve had since Mangino talking the talk but often struggling to walk the walk. Again, the overall health and success of the program during those days contributed to why those past coaches could not back up their desire to find recruiting success in Kansas.

But that’s just another area where current KU coach Lance Leipold has shown his ability to rise above the rest. Not only did he emphasize it from Day 1, but he’s also starting to have some success with it.

Refer to that list above to see what successfully recruiting local kids can do for a program like KU.

Here’s the other thing that makes Marks’ commitment notable. It appears as if the kid can really play.

He’s already 6-foot-8, 275 pounds, or thereabouts, and those who have watched him play say he moves great, with light, quick feet and great athleticism. He has a basketball background and also has played on the defensive line, both of which speak to his versatility as a player and an athlete.

He’ll play his senior season at Olathe South, after transferring over from St. Thomas Aquinas, and there’s a long way to go before anyone can successfully project or predict exactly where he’ll make his impact at Kansas.

But this one fact certainly catches your eye: According to, Marks is the highest-rated offensive lineman prospect to commit to KU since the Rivals network began its ranking players in 2001.

The whole idea in the recruiting world is to land as many guys like this — talent, upside, versatility, recognition, etc. — and fit them in where they fit best when the time comes.

The more a program does that, that more other prospects start to notice it and the more a place like Kansas, which undeniably is a program on the rise, starts to become a real player in the recruiting world.

I’m old enough to remember and was doing this back when KU was fighting hard to win recruiting battles for 2 and 3-star prospects over programs like Akron Bowling Green, Toledo, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Louisiana Tech, Rice and others.

Now, you look at a kid like Marks — and several others on KU’s wish list — and you’re starting to see an offer sheet that includes damn near every big school you can imagine and even visits to places like Iowa, K-State, Missouri, Notre Dame, Oklahoma.

It’s impossible for that not to catch your eye. And it’s merely the latest sign of why things are very much headed in the right direction for KU football.

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