For many college coaches — in both football and basketball — one of the most grueling parts of the job is recruiting.
Not for Kansas University football coach Turner Gill.
“He’s a bulldog with it,” tight ends coach and special teams coordinator Aaron Stamn said. “He loves it.”
When Gill was introduced as the 37th coach in program history in December, he went out of his way to emphasize the importance of recruiting with his regime.
Since arriving in Lawrence, Gill has done nothing to dispel the notion that seeking and signing top-notch talent would be a priority.
Gill did well to play catch up with the Class of 2010. He kept several commitments on the path to Kansas and even swiped a few of his own, most notably four-star running back Brandon Bourbon, who had orally committed to Stanford but chose KU after an encounter with Gill.
Since then Gill has gone wild with the Class of 2011, extending offers to any players he believed could help the Jayhawks regardless of state or status. His assistants have followed suit.
“In the afternoon, it’s straight recruiting,” running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Reggie Mitchell said. “You work four hours in the morning on football and then four hours in the afternoon on recruiting, which is unique.”
Mitchell continued: “People give a lot of lip service, but he is all about it.”
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Gill’s recruiting plan is the way he scours the nation for talent while keeping a close eye on the in-state talent around him. In the last month alone, Gill has thrown offers to a quarterback with Ohio State and Florida on his list of options, a defensive tackle with USC on his radar and a running back being pursued by Iowa, Tennessee and Wisconsin. All this while keeping up relations with in-state standouts such as Bubba Starling, a 6-foot-5, 193-pound quarterback at nearby Gardner-Edgerton High, who has received heavy interest from dozens of schools, including powerhouse programs Notre Dame and Nebraska, which have made or will make their second in-school visits of the spring this month.
“We never back down from anybody,” Stamn said. “It’s not about this guy’s the highest profile guy in the country, we have to get him, it’s about getting the right guys for your program. We’ll always go after the best of the best. But they have to be the right fit for Lawrence, too. Because we want to bring good people in here who want to do the right things and want to be great.”
While many of the schools Gill is competing with have greater tradition and more alluring alums, Gill believes Kansas has enough to entice even the most highly-recruited players to come to Lawrence.
“I’m here to tell people about the University of Kansas and what we have to offer,” Gill said.
Included in that equation are state-of-the art facilities and exposure in the highly-competitive Big 12 Conference, which sends more than half of its teams to bowl games annually.
“This here sells itself,” Mitchell said, gesturing toward the setting surrounding Memorial Stadium. “It’s probably one of the best facilities in the country. It would probably be one of the top two or three in the Big Ten.”