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Archive for Thursday, February 4, 2010

All things considered, Gill thrilled with first class

Jay, left, and Bonnie Breidenthal, right, of Bonner Springs, watch as former Kansas University football standout John Hadl, second from left, greets KU coach Turner Gill during a national-signing-day event Wednesday at the Oread Hotel.

Jay, left, and Bonnie Breidenthal, right, of Bonner Springs, watch as former Kansas University football standout John Hadl, second from left, greets KU coach Turner Gill during a national-signing-day event Wednesday at the Oread Hotel.

February 4, 2010

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Big 12 ranks

Here is how Rivals.com ranked the Big 12 signing classes:

  1. Texas

  2. Oklahoma

  3. Texas A&M

  4. Missouri

  5. Nebraska

  6. Oklahoma State

  7. Baylor

  8. Texas Tech

  9. Kansas

  10. Iowa State

  11. Kansas State

  12. Colorado

Turner Gill reveals recruiting class

KU football coach Turner Gill revealed the incoming recruiting class for the upcoming season's team. Wednesday saw many prospects commit to schools as part of National Signing Day. Enlarge video

Turner Gill press conference, February 3, 2010

Video from the press conference with KU football coach Turner Gill on February 3, 2010. Enlarge video

After spending a large portion of his introductory news conference detailing his intentions to make recruiting the highest of priorities, first-year Kansas University football coach Turner Gill took the first step this week in making good on that promise.

As expected, the Jayhawks signed 17 players Wednesday (junior-college quarterback Quinn Mecham already had signed, giving the team 18 players in its 2010 recruiting class), and while the team’s recruiting ranking slipped a bit in comparison to recent years — KU’s ’10 class was ranked 55th nationally by Rivals.com, compared to 31st a year ago — Gill expressed great pleasure with the collection of talent his staff was able to assemble.

“Our staff did a great job in a short period of time to go out across the country and find the right guys that fit the University of Kansas, and that’s the key to it all,” he said during a Wednesday news conference to introduce the signing class. “It is not just about going out and finding talented young men, which is what we are here to do, but you also have to make sure that these young men fit the University of Kansas.”

Among the highlights, the Jayhawks bolstered an already-deep receiving corps with the addition of four receivers (Ricki Herod Jr., Brian Maura, Keeston Terry, Andrew Turzilli) and added four defensive linemen (Keba Agostinho, JaQwaylin Arps, Jeremiah Edwards, Pat Lewandowski), while inking eight players from the talent-rich state of Texas.

Despite operating under less-than-ideal conditions — former KU coach Mark Mangino’s departure and the subsequent coaching search left the new staff with limited time to recruit — the group managed to keep a majority of the previous staff’s commitments while adding a handful of its own, a feat due in no small part to recruiting coordinator/running backs coach Reggie Mitchell.

A former Kansas assistant in the 1980s and ’90s, Mitchell was instrumental in convincing two players, four-star running back Brandon Bourbon and three-star defensive back Dexter McDonald, to switch their commitments in the past week, developments that represented a significant boost to a class that, up to that point, lacked star power.

Of his success in luring players away from other high-profile programs (Bourbon was previously committed to Stanford, McDonald to Missouri), Mitchell credited the staff’s ability to develop strong relationships with recruits in a short amount of time, as well as the program’s recent rise to respectability.

“When we first got here in 1988, it was broken,” Mitchell said. “If you look at the program now, I wouldn’t say it’s broken at all. If you look at the facilities, having come from Illinois, which is in the Big Ten, this would be one of the top facilities in the Big Ten Conference. You’re looking at a team that’s coming off a 5-7 record versus when we came in here. It’s not broken by any stretch of the imagination.”

Gill said Wednesday that he didn’t know which — if any — freshman players would be ready to contribute in 2010, but did make it clear that each would have the opportunity make his case for immediate playing time.

“There’s nobody that has a starting job at this point in time,” Gill said. “Whether they’ve started for two years, three years, whatever. We’re going to evaluate every guy on this football team, and the best guy is going to play, whether he’s a senior or he’s a freshman.”

If there’s a glaring concern in the recruiting class, it’s the lack of offensive lineman. Two-star prospect Chad Kolumber was the only signing, and though he didn’t rule out the addition of one or two more players, Gill said the class more or less has been finalized.

“We do have everyone coming back, so it wasn’t really too crucial,” Gill said of the offensive-line position. “But only signing one offensive linemen, you usually like to try to get a few big guys there in every class. But (everything) else, we feel very, very, very good about.”

Now they’ll turn their attention to the Class of 2011.

As of last week, the staff already had begun work on next year’s recruiting class, further backing up Gill’s contention that recruiting will be the key to the program’s development.

“The last week of recruiting, we kind of went out and did some junior recruiting, because for the most part we had everyone committed,” Mitchell said. “So we took two or three days in each of our areas to go out and junior-recruit.

“You’re never really ahead,” Mitchell said of recruiting, “but we’re trying not to get too far behind in junior recruiting.”

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