Archive for Monday, March 29, 2010

Gill casts his spell on KU football

New Jayhawk era opens with spring drills

Kansas head coach Turner Gill gathers with the team during spring practice on Sunday, March 28, 2010.

Kansas head coach Turner Gill gathers with the team during spring practice on Sunday, March 28, 2010.

March 29, 2010

Advertisement

KU football holds spring practice

The KU football team took to the practice fields Sunday for the first spring practice of the early season. The team returns 17 starters from last year. Enlarge video

Turner Gill interview - Spring practice

Turner Gill fields questions from reporters during KU's spring practice March 28, 2010. Enlarge video

Sunday, after nearly three hours on the field for his first official practice with Kansas University’s football team, KU coach Turner Gill had one final test for his troops.

This, perhaps more than any physical drill or simple instruction, best symbolized what Gill is all about as a football coach. With his team on one knee, huddled in front of him, Gill called on senior place kicker Jacob Branstetter to lead the Jayhawks in one of the team’s new traditions: a letter-by-letter reciting of the team mantra “B.E.L.I.E.V.E.”

B: Believe in each other and the things not yet seen.

E: Empower people by encouragement.

L: Learn and press on toward the goal.

I: Influence by being a positive role model.

E: Expect great effort all the time.

V: Visualize excellence.

E: Enjoy the college football experience.

This same idea served Gill well during his four years at the University of Buffalo and, according to wide receiver Chris Omigie, was one of Gill’s priorities upon arriving at KU.

“It was the first day (he met with us),” Omigie said. “He told us what it was and then he said, ‘Now, I’m going to expect you guys to memorize this before our season is over.’ And he’s going to expect all of us to be able to recite it word-for-word to the rest of the team.

“I’m close,” Omigie continued. “I practice it almost every day. I think I’ve got it down to the second E. I think it’s more just remembering how to spell it than remembering the words of it. Some people just get it mixed up.”

The simple sound of the drill, with its almost military ring, invoked visions of a team that relies on discipline and togetherness. The hooting and hollering that followed — after the “enjoy the college football experience” part — demonstrated that things are a little different around the KU camp these days.

“(Coach Gill) was pretty laid-back,” sophomore running back Toben Opurum said. “You know, there were a couple of mental mistakes, but that’s expected at the first practice. We just went out and played our hearts out like we know he wants us to.”

Added sophomore receiver Bradley McDougald: “The coaches, they were getting after us, but in the right way. It was definitely different, something I can get used to.”

On a sunny day, with temperatures comfortably in the 50s, Gill looked very much like the same man he had been for the past four years at Buffalo. He wore a blue pullover, gray sweatpants and a white hat with blue letters. Of course, the setting, the increased media presence, the players in the helmets and even the other coaches served as constant reminders that Gill no longer was in New York.

As he has with just about everything that has been thrown at him since arriving in Lawrence, Gill greeted his new environment with his head held high and a smile on his face.

“The only word is just exciting,” he said. “It’s an exciting opportunity to be here, to coach in the Big 12 Conference and at the University of Kansas. I’m just excited to get this thing going.”

While a large portion of opening day was a feeling-out process for both players and coaches — what senior defensive back Chris Harris called “a learning practice” — there were a few details that needed to be addressed:

• Linebacker Vernon Brooks, a senior-to-be who played in five games and made five tackles in 2009, has been dismissed from the team. Gill informed the media in his opening statement. “Vernon Brooks has been removed from our football team due to violation of our team policy,” Gill said. “Permanently.”

• Speaking of linebackers, Gill said senior linebacker Drew Dudley, who was rumored to be out for spring drills because of a shoulder injury, was day-to-day and would be limited during the first several practices. “He’s just doing the minimum stuff. We’ll just have to see how he feels. But our trainers are going to make all those calls, and we’ll do the best we can with them. There’s some guys who will be limited. On Wednesday, we’ll give you more of a specific update on where we’re at.”

• Gill said he planned to make good use of the program’s three-year-old practice fields that still look as if they were installed last week. “(In college football), everybody knows what everybody’s doing, and I’m not a person that’s going to be (worried) over somebody watching what we do and how we do it,” said Gill, asked if he was concerned about spies observing practice. “We’ll probably (spend) the majority of the time on the practice fields, but there will be times where we’ll go into the stadium, too.”

• The Jayhawks will return to practice at 3:30 today and also will practice Wednesday, Friday and Saturday to close out the first week of spring drills.

Comments

Rickyonealku 5 years, 3 months ago

I will be interested to watch this April 24th Spring Football game, type of both offence and defense Kansas will be incorporating.

K_Verses_The_World 5 years, 3 months ago

Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29

He said, “All power is given to Me in heaven and on earth” Did they know right then and there what the power was worth? When He rose from the dead, did they believe? Bob Dylan - In the Garden

Graczyk 5 years, 3 months ago

I wonder what that linebacker did to get thrown off the team.

Graczyk 5 years, 3 months ago

Again with that nonsense, Beobachter?

Richard Payton 5 years, 3 months ago

What are the team policies? When will the team captains be named and who are they? The new concept of believe is better than sawing wood. It's sad that a KU college student openly confesses he can't spell believe. I'm glad to see this coach enforce team policies and believe in the team rules.

TopJayhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

Beo. Give the guy a break. I think he is going to be fine. I'm gonna believe, until he proves me wrong.
Class and integrity is a good start at any endeavor in life.
Regardless if his core beliefs are in line with yours, he has beliefs, he is grounded and he seems to be genuine about them. Until he shows me otherwise, I will respect him.

Steve Bunch 5 years, 3 months ago

No, he was expelled because he misspelled "atheist."

Steve Bunch 5 years, 3 months ago

Well, if he gets the whole football team spelling well in his first year, that will be an improvement.

Richard Payton 5 years, 3 months ago

Spacehog must enjoy attacking Christians! Wondering if the ACLU's new bad boy is Turner Gill and the KU football team. In God We Trust!

TopJayhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

Beo Plain fact. HE is the coach. YOU are a hater. HE is getting millions. YOU are JEALOUS.

heybluekc 5 years, 3 months ago

At least the "Rip his &^%$#@ head off chant should cease and desist.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.