Archive for Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fantastic future? KU football coach Turner Gill ecstatic with No. 34 recruiting class in country

Kansas football coach Turner Gill discusses the recruiting class of 2011, which was labeled the 34th-best class in the country, according to Rivals.com. Gill announced the class in a news conference on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011 at Mrkonic Auditorium.

Kansas football coach Turner Gill discusses the recruiting class of 2011, which was labeled the 34th-best class in the country, according to Rivals.com. Gill announced the class in a news conference on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011 at Mrkonic Auditorium.

February 3, 2011

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Kansas University football coach Turner Gill is seen in a camera man’s monitor during a news conference. Gill was announcing his recruiting class of 2011 on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011 at Mrkonic Auditorium.

Kansas University football coach Turner Gill is seen in a camera man’s monitor during a news conference. Gill was announcing his recruiting class of 2011 on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011 at Mrkonic Auditorium.

KU class of 2011 quick hits

By State

Texas: 9, Kansas: 7

Arkansas: 2, Illinois: 2

California: 1, Colorado: 1

Florida: 1, Georgia: 1

Missouri: 1, Oklahoma: 1

Virginia: 1

By Position

Offense: 13

QB: 2, RB: 3, WR: 2, OL: 6

Defense: 13, DL: 4, LB: 5, DB: 4

Specialists: 1

PK: 1

Turner Gill 2011 signing day press conference

Turner Gill addressed the media on signing day Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011. Kansas signed 27 new recruits and Gill said he was looking for speed and explosiveness in them.

Class of 2011, alphabetical:

Dylan Admire, OL, 6-3, 264

Tunde Bakare, LB, 5-11, 215

Brock Berglund, QB, 6-4, 205

Travis Bodenstein, OL, 6-5, 295

Michael Cummings, QB, 6-0, 196

Javonte Daniel, DE, 6-4, 215

Phil Ford, OL, 6-6, 320

Collin Garrett, LB, 6-1, 205

Ben Goodman, DE, 6-2, 225

Julius Green, DE, 6-7, 260

Ben Heeney, LB, 6-1, 195

Jason Hensley, LB, 6-2, 225

Marquis Jackson, WR, 6-0, 205

Jake Love, LB, 6-0, 195

Luke Luhrsen, OL, 6-5, 275

Damon Martin, OL, 6-5, 265

Alex Matlock, DB, 6-2, 190

Alex Mueller, K, 5-10, 155

Darrian Miller, RB, 5-10, 181

Bryan Peters, OL, 6-5, 305

Anthony Pierson, RB, 5-11, 175

Michael Reynolds, DE, 6-4, 220

Chris Robinson, DB, 5-9, 170

Adonis Saunders, DB, 5-11, 185

JaCorey Shepherd, WR, 5-11, 170

Victor Simmons, DB, 6-1, 185

Dreamius Smith, RB, 6-1, 210

Throughout his first 13 months on the job, Kansas University football coach Turner Gill demonstrated one thing above all else: He’s as steady as they come.

During KU’s 3-9 season last fall, Gill never got too pumped about the highs nor too down about the lows. Instead, he remained focused on his task and talked often about striving to build a winning program.

Wednesday, inside Mrkonic Auditorium at the Anderson Family Strength and Conditioning Center, Gill slipped ever-so-slightly and showed a little extra enthusiasm when announcing the recruiting Class of 2011, his first full class since taking over at Kansas.

“This is a great class,” said Gill of the 27 players who signed national letters of intent to join the Jayhawks. “This is a great class because they have speed, they have good character and they all do well academically. We just have to put it all together.”

Doing that will take time. Gill made sure to point that out. But it also will be easier now that the players who will wear Kansas across their chests and Jayhawks on their backs are Gill’s players, shaped in his mold, ready to play his style of football.

That starts and ends with speed.

“Absolutely,” Gill said. “Speed was the No. 1 thing that we wanted to get addressed at every position, and we did that. We believe that we did that at every position. We were very fortunate and blessed this year that we had a lot of numbers; we were able to have 27 scholarships available; that’s probably not going to happen again as we go along.”

There were a couple of areas in which speed was the major focus for this year’s class and Gill and company delivered in both. In running backs Darrian Miller (Blue Springs, Mo.), Anthony Pierson (East St. Louis, Ill.) and Dreamius Smith (Wichita), Gill inherits three dynamic ball carriers.

“We were definitely trying to find some people who would be explosive, who would be able, any time they touched the football, to find the end zone,” Gill said. “As you research these guys, they found the end zone, many, many, many times.”

The other position where speed was of prime importance was linebacker, where the Jayhawks were woefully undermanned throughout the 2010 season. Class of 2011 linebackers Tunde Bakare (the only junior college prospect in the class), Ben Heeney (Hutchinson), Jason Hensley (Alma, Ark.), Collin Garrett (Beaumont, Texas) and Jake Love (Tonkawa, Okla.) all have serious wheels.

“These guys have shown that they can go from sideline to sideline,” Gill said. “They can hit people, they can splatter people, they can knock the ball out. They showed that.”

Though speed was important, it wasn’t the only factor Gill and his coaching staff considered. Another big element was creating competition. This class, which includes players from 11 different states — coast to coast — and is made up of 13 offensive players, 13 defensive players and one special teamer, will bring that to Gill’s roster.

“We talked about size, we talked about speed, we talked about explosiveness and then we looked to get depth throughout our football team,” Gill said. “And I know we accomplished that. There will be competition at every single spot.”

And in some areas, that competition will lead to playing time for plenty of freshmen. Last season, Gill chose to play just three true freshmen — Keba Agostinho, James Sims and Keeston Terry. KU’s second-year coach said that number could increase dramatically in 2011.

“If I had to guess, out of this class of 27, I would say that over half will play this year,” Gill said. “Again, they could go one way or the other, but I can say anywhere from 15 to 16 of these guys will play this year. They may not all be starters on offense or defense initially, but they may help right away on special teams and then, as they mature and are able to move forward, they can help us on offense or defense.”

KU’s most recent recruiting class was ranked 34th in the nation by Rivals.com, as of Wednesday night. It includes two four-star prospects (Miller and Pierson), 22 three-star prospects and three two-star recruits. Most of them come from winning programs and Gill said that was one of the things his staff was searching for while on the road recruiting.

“This class is full of football players who know how to win,” Gill said. “And when you’re building a football program, as we are, and you want to build a winning program, you need to have people who know how to win, who have experienced winning and (who) understand and thrive on competition. That was kind of the common theme: Have they been on a successful football team? Can they run? And can they overcome adversity? Because that’s what a champion is. These guys have shown that.”

Comments

Bob Forer 4 years, 5 months ago

If my memory serves well, Mangino never had a class better than the low forties. Gill was touted as a great recruiter when hired, and I think his first full recruiting class bears this out. I am amazed that he was able to pull this off in light of a horrible 3-9 season and a lukewarm fan base. Imagine how much better the class would have been if he had an 8-4 or a 9-3 season to tout. Its time to quit the bashing and give the man a chance. Although the jury is still out, my hunch is that there are good things in store in KU's football future.

TopJayhawk 4 years, 5 months ago

I agree and have said that all along. If he can get to say 6-6. Then things can really take off.

Wonder what all the Naysayers are thinking. No doubt formulating excuses. Or just sitting on their thumbs waiting to start the bashing again....They will never admit they are wrong.

kujayhawk 4 years, 5 months ago

We won't be 6-6 this year. It's possible we could be better and have a worse record. It will take a couple of years, but this is a good start.

lionheart72661 4 years, 5 months ago

I agree with you. He had a better season than Mangino did his 1st year. I am behind Coach Gill 110 %. As for the lukewarm fan base. When he starts winning those bashers will jump on his band wagon. I posted this several times last year, Mangino went downhill fast the 2 years after the orange bowl with the same team he won it with. Coach Gill had to start from scratch. In conclusion "GO K.U. and COACH GILL"

hwkgrl 4 years, 5 months ago

I am excited for the team. I can't remember looking forward to an upcoming season more.

justforfun 4 years, 5 months ago

Welcome to Lawrence! Must be your first season here, cuz otherwise can't figure out your comment.

ksjayhawk81 4 years, 5 months ago

Im also excited for the season! Rock Chalk!

cato_the_elder 4 years, 5 months ago

Congratulations, Coach. Best wishes in turning this great class into good results for KU football.

kujayhawk 4 years, 5 months ago

And unfortunate because it makes the schedule twice as hard. But I agree, it might make it easier to recruit Texas.

Daniel Kennamore 4 years, 5 months ago

Players don't get much if any free time away from the team during away games; an hour or two at most. You really think an hour ONE week a year is the difference between going to KU or not?

Your poor attempt to 'poo-poo' this recruiting class is noted.

kujayhawk 4 years, 5 months ago

Playing four times a year against the Texas schools absolutely makes a difference in recruiting. Regardless, this is a good class for Gill and I hope he continues to build on it.

LeBo 4 years, 5 months ago

Coach keep recruiting the St. Louis metro, Kansas City, and let's get a foothold on CHI-TOWN. Notre Dame is down because CPS students are no longer going there.
So happy to see a East St. Louis Flyer on the roster!

bigtex 4 years, 5 months ago

I have never seen a coach predict over 50% of his incoming freshman well play or start before they ever stepped on a college football field. I guess this is an entitlement for being Gill"s recruit. Recruiting a player from a winning high school is good but don't overlook a highly motivated individual who happened to have a sucky high school or bad coach. If a player has that internal fire,great work ethic, athleticism, a good coach will mold that individual to his program and that individual will thrive .

ranger73 4 years, 5 months ago

I think he can predict that because the team was so thin this last year. Absolutely no depth at just about every position.
As far as recruiting in the south, Coach has always had a foothold down there back to when he was with Nebraska.
Still waiting to hear from all those that are wanting Coach Gill fired... Also love how KSU is touting all those players with relatives that are or were in the pros. "...Freddie's 3rd uncle's cousin's brother from a previous marriage played for the Detroit Lions for half a season so he comes from an athletic family so he should be really good for us..."

hesshawk 4 years, 5 months ago

The reason they talk about all the relatives is because they are so in-bred that sometimes the player is his own father, and the rest of the pig farmers at KSUck want to know they're with friends that are like them

jhawkinsf 4 years, 5 months ago

I'm real happy to see no posts critical of Coach Gill. I'm hopeful we have better days ahead and that Gill will lead the Jayhawks to many successful seasons.

LJD230 4 years, 5 months ago

What's up with the idiotic headline?

Congrats to Coach Gill

hammerhawk 4 years, 5 months ago

Wel,l based upon jhawkinsf above, I won't say what I might have said about the KU football program and its leadership based upon the initial hiring of the leader and the results, game by game, of the leaders first season. But I've got my eye on things.

Shane Rogers 4 years, 5 months ago

I'll take you one further and say you've got to give any college coach five years, not four. One year to use and deal with the crap that he's just taken over, then the four to build from his first recruiting class. That's what I've always felt anyhow.

average 4 years, 5 months ago

The only knock really out there against Gill is his ludicrous contract. He's coached about as well as you could expect from a first-year coach at KU with the players he inherited and a losing record at a MAC school. And he's recruited well above that. It's not like he got to dictate the contract, either. If someone put a ridiculously overpaid contract in front of me, I'd sign it too.

We'll see if he lives up to that contract in the next few years. It made some pretty high expectations to meet.

oklahoma 4 years, 5 months ago

Liberty nailed it. Give him 4 years of recruiting his own set of players, then evaluate. Gill and Self are top notch in character, which is obviously great in light of the recent problems in athletics.

timeforachange 4 years, 5 months ago

I agree with LJD230. What's with the stupid headline? I applaud Gill and his staff. #34 in the country is fantastic. He's finally got a chance to play his type of game using players he's gone after and gotten. Mangino was never able to capitalize on his Orange Bowl victory in any way similar to the success Gill has had coming off a 3-9 season. Keep up the good work. I bet we see it paying off as early as this fall.

timeforachange 4 years, 5 months ago

And CWGOKU.......why the negatism? Why not half full? I hope you don't view every aspect of your life with such pessimism. Waking up must be the worst part of your day. Do the football staff and the rest of Lawrence a favor, and yourself for that matter and just stay home this coming football season. KU doesn't need fans like you!

Laura Wilson 4 years, 5 months ago

I don't think he should be fired, not at all. Give Gill at least a couple of years, but he needs to toughen up on his players and get them physically tougher as well. We couldn't tackle anybody last year. Speed is great, but strength is equally important.

It's good to see two four star recruits and several three star ones. Being snowed in yesterday I watched a lot of the coverage and never heard KU mentioned once, so I had no clue that we had such a good class. 34th is nothing to sneeze at, but now the coaches need to get them in shape and prepared and utilize them correctly.

Maybe I'll get those season tickets after all and give it a chance.

yourworstnightmare 4 years, 5 months ago

Put their names back on the jerseys and stop clock bocking your players.

These are gimmicks. Teach them to be great football players, and becoming fine young men will naturally follow.

Gill deserves a chance and at least three more years, but his first year was not good. There are signs of bad things to come.

Kent Fisher 4 years, 5 months ago

Berglund and Pierson will soon be household names.
Congrats on a good class! But good talent doesn't necessarily translate to wins if the play calling (coaching) doesn't improve.

darktart 4 years, 5 months ago

Out recruiting MU and KSU is a job well done! Baylor didn't even top us (according to the statistical mumbo jumbo).

Travis Shinkle 4 years, 5 months ago

Great for the recruiting but let's face it, a ranking means absolutely NOTHING. Case in point is go back the past five or ten years and see who ranked where in the yearly recruiting classes. My favorite is seeing North Carolina in the top 15 virtually every year and yet, every year their team is in the middle of the pack in the ACC...so rankings really mean nothing...

But give Gill his four years and let's see what happens on the field...

firebird27 4 years, 5 months ago

I will believe that recruitment rankings mean nothing when Kansas starts defeating the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma. Being ranked 34th is a message that says to me that KU will remain a doormat for a number of conference opponents.

happyrock 4 years, 5 months ago

Great. Now all we need is someone to coach these kids. Bring back Mangino.

BigAl 4 years, 5 months ago

Yes because that 7 game losing streak Mangino had us on was great. And, he had better players than what Gill started with. Mangino had a terrible record against ranked teams. In 8 years, the Great Mangino had ONE winning record. That was the year we didn't play any of the "big boys". When Mangino left, the cupboard was bare.

Gill stopped the losing streak. I don't understand how everyone thinks Mangino was a great coach. He had one decent season and even then, he padded it with a weak schedule. He never did win the North Division. Give Gill a chance.

happyrock 4 years, 5 months ago

Gee. We are ranked 6th out of ten teams in the conference. National Championship here we come. KU football is a joke. So is Turner Gill.

drnater 4 years, 5 months ago

Texas has one of the best recruitingt classes last year and look what they did....

Richard Payton 4 years, 5 months ago

Texas rated #3 not the best in the country. With the largest athletic budget in the nation they should have been #1.

BigAl 4 years, 5 months ago

The only thing that is a joke around here is you. Apparently you are never anywhere near Memorial Stadium on football Saturdays. Even while losing, there are people in the stands and the parking lots are full of tail-gaters. I know, I am there. A whole lot of people have a really good time at the football games. The facilities are getting better and the new Anderson Sports facility is a first rate building. Granted, Kansas football isn't Oklahoma or Texas or Nebraska but it sure brings in interest and fans as well as most other programs.

We would even welcome you to the party. But, I doubt if you have a good time anywhere.

Bob Forer 4 years, 5 months ago

And what is your experience that allows you to categorically dismiss Coach Gill. Hint: playing third string on a high school football team does not make one an expert.

Richard Payton 4 years, 5 months ago

34 rated signing class better than I expected!

BigAl 4 years, 5 months ago

It absolutely doesn't. But, it does mean that he may very well be on the right track. In fact, I doubt if he does start winning right away. These kids will be freshmen and it is hard to win with freshmen. Gill was charged with turning around a program that had been on a 7 game losing skid with pretty good players (that graduated). It will take a little time.

Gregory Newman 4 years, 5 months ago

It's funny how all of the folks that are critical of Gill never played a down of football in their life. It's amazing what a big mouth and small brains can do.

homechanger 4 years, 5 months ago

Gill should be given a raise. He only makes 160,000 per month. How can we expect him to be a good coach and recruiter for that paltry sum?

hawksfanatic 4 years, 5 months ago

I would love nothing better to see a good football team at KU. A great team would be even better, but I was surprised at the strength of this class. Good luck, Coach, and the best in building the future of KU football.

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