- Erik McKinney, ESPN Staff Writer
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One of the most heavily-recruited junior college players in the country took himself off the uncommitted list Tuesday night, as defensive tackle Marquel Combs (Woodland Hills, Calif./Pierce) committed to the Kansas Jayhawks.
Combs, who is expected to be one of the top ranked junior college players in the nation when ESPN RecruitingNation releases its juco rankings next week, collected more than 50 offers during the recruiting process and was an early commitment to Mississippi before opening up his recruitment. The 6-foot-3, 310-pound tackle eventually narrowed his list of schools to rivals Kansas and Kansas State. He visited both this fall but ultimately decided on the Jayhawks. He said the decision was finalized on Tuesday, but the reason behind his commitment was building for weeks.
"I want to accept the challenge," Combs said. "I feel with the attitude I have, as well as the other players coming in, we can turn this program around. I believe in what coach Charlie Weis is doing and what he brings to the table. I understand his past record at Notre Dame, but this time it's going to be different, no matter what. He is getting players who are determined and willing to make it."
Part of that credit can go to Combs himself, who has been organizing what he refers to as a "Dream Team." Kansas junior college commitments Cassius Sendish (Yuma, Ariz./Arizona Western), Marcus Jenkins-Moore (Woodland Hills, Calif./Pierce) and Isaiah Johnson (Council Bluffs, Ia./Iowa Western) were all in contact with Combs during the recruiting process. The big defensive tackle said his job between now and junior college signing day is simple.
"My role is to get the best talent into Lawrence, Kansas," Combs said. "I've got my eye on a lot of guys."
Combs said a variety of factors led to his decision to commit to Kansas, including the NFL experience among the Jayhawks coaches, as well as defensive coordinator Dave Campo's 4-3 base scheme. Combs will have three years to play two at Kansas and said he is very much looking forward to getting to campus.
"I'm very happy with my decision," Combs said in the immediate aftermath of his commitment. "I'm ready to go compete for a Big XII championship."
There has been an obvious emphasis on junior college talent for Kansas in this recruiting cycle. Combs is commitment No. 17 in the Jayhawks' 2013 recruiting class, and No. 11 from the juco ranks. Combs also held offers from Arkansas, Baylor, Michigan State, Oregon State, Penn State, Tennessee and Texas A&M, among others.