Dylan Downing commits to KU
Shawnee Mission (KS) Bishop Miege linebacker Dylan Downing sat in Les Miles office in the Anderson Family Football Complex on Sunday. As he listened to the Kansas Jayhawks new head football coach detail his vision for the program, the Stags standout and newest KU commit couldn’t help but be excited.
“It means a lot,” Downing said of his offer from the national champion head coach. “You look at his history, and the things he’s done with the programs he’s been at. It’s insane. For him to sit down and look you in the eye and tell you that, it means a lot.”
“They need some guys, and he feels like I am a very capable person for jumping in quick and playing,” he continued about Miles. “He was just a real personable guy that you could talk to any time of the day. It felt good talking to him.”
After narrowing his recruitment to Kansas and Iowa State, Downing visited Ames on Thursday. He and his family were in Lawrence three days later. He pointed to the coaching staff as the biggest factor in his choosing KU, but the opportunity to contribute early also played a role.
“It was the coaches, really,” he said of his decision. “Every single one of them seemed really interested. And it’s not just the depth at linebacker, but on special teams, too. They need some guys.”
Downing capped off his high school career with his fourth state championship ring in November. As a senior, he racked up 131 total tackles, including 90 solo stops, 3 sacks, and 5 interceptions. He was the recipient of the Bobby Bell Award, honoring the Most Outstanding Small-Class Lineman/Linebacker in Kansas City, was named to the Kansas Top 11 team, and was a Kansas Class 4A All-State selection at both LB and punter.
“They just lost all three of their starting linebackers,” the Stags standout said of the KU defense. “I talked to the inside coach, Coach Ekeler, and he said ‘You can come in quick and earn a spot.’ He’s also the special teams coordinator, and he likes the fact that I punt. He said that I could come in and get that, too. He said ‘It’s open, but you’ve got to work for it.’”
The in-state product talked about how Miles and his assistants plan to focus on local recruiting. He was struck by how they believe the talent in Kansas and Kansas City can play a critical role in turning the program around.
“They said there is definitely a bunch of talent here in Kansas City,” Downing said of the KU staff. “You just have to go find it. The names they brought up are all Kansas City kids, so its obvious they are already focusing on it.”
“Everybody is just excited. They are excited to get things back to where they were in the early 2000s. With that staff, I feel they are going to get some really good kids and return it to that status pretty quick.”
Downing’s upbringing in a Missouri family is well-documented. His father, Ken, was an All-Big 8 defensive back for the Tigers before playing professionally in the NFL and Canada. His brother, Dawson, is currently a running back at Mizzou. Despite being raised in Black and Gold, he never hesitated about choosing KU.
“It’s weird, but my parents have told me from the very beginning that they are going to back me up, wherever I go. Yeah, they might not like the Jayhawk on their shirt, but the colors will stay the same from high school. It should be an easier transition than they think.”