LAWRENCE — Kansas football has seen significant shakeups for the first time since completion of its 1-11 season.
Special teams coordinator Joe DeForest and offensive line coach Zach Yenser have been let go, the program announced in a Friday afternoon news release that called it a mutual parting of ways. Additionally, KU has promoted offensive analyst Justin Johnson to an on-field assistant coaching position, taking advantage of a new NCAA rule allowing a 10th assistant coaching position.
Yenser had been an original member of third-year head coach David Beaty’s first staff, while DeForest just completed his second season with KU. The offensive line allowed 29 sacks and saw Jayhawk running backs average only 3.15 yards per attempt in 2017, while the KU special teams unit ranked 124th out of 130 teams nationally in special teams efficiency.
“We have mutually agreed to part ways as Joe and Zach will step away from our program and pursue other opportunities,” Beaty said in the release. “I appreciate the hard work they both put in during their time with us and wish the best for them and their families moving forward.”
Johnson, who just completed his second season at KU, previously worked as a graduate assistant with Beaty when he was receivers coach at Texas A&M. A standout wide receiver at Houston, Johnson “has a knack for building relationships,” Beaty said.
“Justin is known around our buildings as ‘Juice’ because energy is something he definitely brings to the table,” Beaty said. “He is well-versed in not only how we want to run our program but also the nuances to how we want to run our offense. He has worked hard during his time at KU to establish himself as a mentor with our players and that will help him greatly as he moves into his new role.”
KU didn’t announce replacements for DeForest or Yenser in the release, but a Wednesday night report from FOX Sports’ Bruce Feldman had the Jayhawks filling DeForest’s former role with Texas A&M quality control specialist Jeremy Springer, who helped with special teams and tight ends for the Aggies.