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Day 3 of Big 12 media days: Video wrap-up of KU's day in Irving, Texas

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4:57 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Here's a final video wrap-up of KU's appearance at Big 12 Media Days on Wednesday.

http://www2.kusports.com/videos/2010/... Thanks to everyone who checked out the blog during the last three days, and be sure to come back to KUsports.com for more KU football coverage in the upcoming weeks.

4:09 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Kansas cornerback Chris Harris managed to get some trash talk in even at Big 12 media days.

Here's the situation: KU offensive lineman Brad Thorson and Harris both were asked about the possibility of going 14-0. Both answered with similar responses, saying they'd be the happiest guys in the world.

A reporter then brought up to Harris that Thorson had said the same thing.

So which teammate would be happier with a 14-0 record this year?

The witty Harris gave his response in the video below.

3:21 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell

On Wednesday, KU coach Turner Gill was asked to discuss his greatest victory off the field at Buffalo.

After a moment of thought, Gill started with a story — and also revealed quite a bit about himself in the process.

When recruiting defensive lineman Anel Montanez at Buffalo, Gill had to sit down with Anel, his mother, his father and also his father’s new wife.

The mother and the stepmother had never met each other. And Gill was sitting in between them at the table.

“You can feel tension,” Gill said. “You can feel the uneasiness of the situation.”

So what happened next?

“A long story short, eventually there at the end of the deal, we all prayed together and they now became friends,” Gill said. “In less than 48 hours, they were talking with each other, and they felt good about each other. And they said, ‘We’re going to work this thing together. We’re going to be together as a family.’ And they thanked me, but they really thanked us (for) helping them mend that together.”

Gill later received a commitment from Montanez, who will be a senior at Buffalo next year.

“That’s, to me, that’s what college football is about,” Gill said. “Obviously, we want to win championships and all those things, but that’s everlasting. That helped a family. That helped that young man.”

2:40 p.m. update: By Eric Sorrentino

Brad Thorson spoke about how Kansas coach Turner Gill often speaks in an inspiring and motivating manner to the Jayhawks. It's evident the players adopted the coach's methods quickly.

Look no further than the no-cursing policy that the first-year KU coach instills at practice.

"We're not supposed to cuss," senior cornerback Chris Harris said on Wednesday on the final day of Big 12 media days. He admitted it took some getting used to on the field.

"The coaches don't cuss. If you cuss, you'll definitely hear something from the coaches. In high school, our coaches didn't care. But it's college football. It's hard to change what you say on the field in 15 practices, but I'm thinking we'll get there."

Thorson, a senior right tackle, agreed.

"It's not a problem," he said of the policy. "It's a little bit weird when you get on the field. You find that if people around you aren't cursing, you don't. It's not part of your lexicon. The person that coach Gill is, everyone wants to emulate him. So it makes it really easy."

Some more highlights from the media's meeting with Harris:

• On the switch in coaches from Mark Mangino to Gill: "It's been going pretty smooth. As of now, we're pretty excited to go to camp and win jobs. (Gill) teaches us a lot of things off the field. Mangino did the same, but as for who messed up on the field, the (present) coaches teach us a lot and come at us at a totally different way than Mangino did. (Gill) is more of a teacher. Coach Mangino was more of 'I'm going to tell you once, and you gotta figure it out.'"

• On the KU-Missouri Border Rivalry being played at Arrowhead Stadium, like it has been for the past three years: "From the other guys, like (former KU safety Darrell) Stuckey, when I talked to them, they love it a lot more, playing at Arrowhead. It's just like a bigger stage. It feels like everyone's watching it a lot more. I like it a lot better at Arrowhead."

• On KU's 0-7 tailspin last season after a 5-0 start: "It was so tough because it felt like we were so close to winning so many games. Stuff wouldn't go our way. It would have been different if we were just getting blown out every game. But we were in a lot of games. The last game (41-39 loss to Missouri), we were right there, and then mess up. And K-State (17-10 loss in Manhattan). Those games kind of hurt the most just because we were right there in the game. We could have won. I've never been a part of losing seven games in a row. I'm just ready to get a win."

More to come...

2:02 p.m. Update: By Matt Tait

Bombarded with questions from the national media on Wednesday, Kansas University football coach Turner Gill did not hold back when explaining to reporters his expectations for the Jayhawks during his first season.

“My expectation is to win every game. I have high expectations but I also understand what realistic expectations are. But if you don’t expect to win every football game then you need to move on to a different conference. Because this is what it’s all about. The Big 12 is an outstanding conference with very good competition and we’re always going to go against the best.”

That’s just fine with Gill’s players, particularly the seniors, three of whom were on hand Wednesday for the final day of the Big 12 media days in Irving, Texas, on Wednesday. “It’s exactly the same for us,” senior defensive end Jake Laptad said. “We’re a team. We stick together. If your goal isn’t to win every game then I don’t know what you’re doing out there playing football on Saturdays.”

Laptad was joined by lineman Brad Thorson and defensive back Chris Harris in representing the KU players on Wednesday. Most of the questions they faced had to do with their new coach, the old days and what life is like around the KU football facility with Gill in town.

“It’s just real positive around there right now,” Laptad said. “It’s not too much of a change, just getting used to some new faces and a new way of doing things.”

For Laptad that statement had double meaning. This spring, the 6-foot-4, 260-pound senior from Tulsa, Okla., was limited because of injury during on-field drills at spring practice. He was able to suit up each day but did not participate in full contact drills. “It was really hard,” he said. “It was the first time I’ve ever been injured during my career here at Kansas and it was real tough for me to sit out.”

Despite sitting during most of the spring, Laptad found his name atop the depth chart at defensive line. The Oklahoma native said he was thrilled to earn the No. 1 spot despite being injured and said the best was yet to come.

"Obviously, I’m (a starter) and that was a huge honor to be starting after not really playing too much in the spring,” Laptad said. “That just encouraged me to work harder out there.”

1:23 p.m. Update: By Jesse Newell

One thing we learned today: The KU quarterback competition between Kale Pick and Jordan Webb is not settled, and it might not be for a while.

KU coach Turner Gill talks in the video below about the decision, saying it could go all the way up to the day before the first game.

KU offensive lineman Brad Thorson also discussed what he'd seen from the two quarterbacks this summer.

11:59 a.m. Update: By Matt Tait

Best line of the day so far — at least as far as the Jayhawks are concerned? It came from senior lineman Brad Thorson, when asked about the protective boot on his right foot:

"I figured all of the Texas people wear boots so I just wanted to fit in."

Gotta love it.

In a related note, Thorson said his foot was fine and that he'd be out of the boot in time for practice, which opens Aug. 4. He's wearing it today as a precautionary measure. And, clearly, also as a fashion statement.

More to come...

11 a.m. update: By Eric Sorrentino

Sometimes, players at media days can be a little shy. Sometimes, they act like they don't really care. It's like they'd rather be doing something else. Kansas University senior right tackle Brad Thorson is definitely not one of those guys.

Thorson, who broke his foot on July 2, donned a Kansas blue polo shirt, khaki slacks and white shoes. Well, one shoe. The other one was in a walking boot.

"It's fine. It's precautionary," Thorson said of the boot. "I just want to keep stress off of it as much as possible. Being a senior, I'll take every medical precaution I can take. No, I'm good. I'm running right now. Give me a pair of running shoes and I'll run all around here."

When Thorson spoke, I felt like I was more at a ballgame catching up with a friend than in a meeting room, where Thorson was surrounded by 10-15 media members.

Some more highlights from Thorson:

• On coach Turner Gill: "Coach Gill really indoctrinates us with the fact that if you really believe in something and you're going to commit yourself whole-heartedly to it, good things will happen," Thorson said. "You're going to hit speed bumps along the way, but he's there to guide us. He's there very much as a father figure and a mentor to us. And that's not typical for Div. I coaches. For a guy who has his own family. He has a daughter in college and a daughter in high school. He has his own family to take care of and he calls us his sons. When he says it, he means it. It's powerful. It means a lot to us. And we're willing to go out and lay it on the line for him."

• On KU's coaching search after Mark Mangino resigned in December 2009: "For all of you (media/fans), the whole coaching search that we went through probably seemed like an up-and-down thing. I remember ESPN broke the news that (Stanford coach) Jim Harbaugh was coming to Kansas. Then, it was coach Gill. Even when ESPN broke coach Gill, I was like, 'Well, it will probably be (Ole Miss coach) Houston Nutt tomorrow (laughs).' We really trust in (KU athletic director) Lew (Perkins) and we knew he was going to bring us somebody that we were going to love and was going to help us win."

• On KU's more favorable 2010 schedule, which won't include games against Oklahoma, Texas or Texas Tech: "Well, we're hoping to meet one of them in the Big 12 Championship game, first and foremost. But those South teams that we're going to be facing: Obviously, (Texas A&M quarterback) Jerrod Johnson thinks he's going to be bringing it. Baylor's got great offensive production. OSU's always got great offensive production. We can't take a week off and that's what you want when you play D. I football."

More quotes to come...

9:18 a.m. Update: By Jesse Newell

Are you following us on Twitter (@kusports)? If so, you'd have gotten live updates from KU coach Turner Gill's time at the podium here at Big 12 media days.

Here are the Tweets that were sent:

• Gill says his family is all moved to Lawrence from Buffalo.

• Tom Osborne, John Wooden were most influential to Gill's coaching; they focused on relationships.

• Trevor Marrongelli would probably start at guard if season began today; he'll be a leader in the future.

• Gill: Quarterback spot is wide open at this point in time.

• Gill: I definitely was surprised when Lew Perkins announced his retirement.

• Gill: My purpose on this earth is to work with and teach young men.

8:36 a.m. Update: By Matt Tait

The Jayhawks have made it safely to Dallas and are in the halls of the Westin Hotel as we speak.

KU coach Turner Gill, along with seniors Chris Harris, Jake Laptad and Brad Thorson, will speak to reporters in about 25 minutes.

Here's a quick look at what we're expecting today from the Jayhawks:

  • Who is the leader for the starting QB position? -- It will be asked. But the odds of it being answered are next to none.

  • Just how much will the Nebraska media jolly with Turner Gill, the former Husker who returns to the conference and will coach against his alma mater for the first time this season? -- My guess is a lot. And then some more.

  • What is the status of KU's injured players who were limited this spring and are all of the starting spots still really up for grabs? -- With this one, we might get somewhere.

We'll have it all throughout the day so check back often as the Jayhawks kick off Day 3 of the Big 12 media days in a matter of minutes.

Original post: By Eric Sorrentino

Irving, Texas — Good news for Kansas University football fans: The media days wait is finally over.

The Jayhawks will be the first team to take the podium at 9 a.m. today at the Westin Hotel for the last day of Big 12 football media days. New KU coach Turner Gill will speak first. Following the news conference, seniors Chris Harris (cornerback), Jake Laptad (defensive end) and Brad Thorson (offensive lineman) will meet with the media.

Following KU will be Oklahoma, Colorado and Texas.

A glance at some highlights from the three KU players on hand today:

Harris: The three-year starter from Bixby, Okla., is KU's most experienced defensive back. Harris was the Associated Press defensive newcomer of the year as a freshman in 2007 after starting 10 games, making 65 tackles and picking off two passes.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder seemed to regress a year later, though. After the seventh game of the 2008 season, then-coach Mark Mangino played Harris primarily in nickel back packages. He wasn't on the field as much.

Harris stepped his game back up last season as a junior, starting all 12 games and ranking third on the team with 84 tackles. Harris certainly has the inside track at a starting position in the fall. The guess here is he'll start opposite senior Calvin Rubles when Kansas kicks off its season against North Dakota State on Sept. 4 (38 days away if you're keeping track) in Lawrence.

Laptad: The 6-foot-4 senior's sacks by season: Three as a freshman, seven as a sophomore, 6.5 as a junior. What will the upcoming year bring?

Jake Laptad pokes the ball free from Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege (7) on Oct. 31, 2009, in Lubbock, Texas.

Jake Laptad pokes the ball free from Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege (7) on Oct. 31, 2009, in Lubbock, Texas. by Eric Sorrentino

The Jayhawks ranked 26th in the country with 31 sacks last season, but Maxwell Onyegbule won't be there in 2010. Laptad needs a complement (senior Quintin Woods or freshman Kevin Young) to take pressure off him and allow him to get to the quarterback.

Thorson: The 6-foot-5, 310-pound Thorson, who transferred to KU from Wisconsin, should be the leader of the Jayhawks O-line this season. Thorson broke his foot on July 2, but should be ready to play by week 1. The Jayhawks return all five starters from last year's O-line, but it's no secret it's an area KU must improve. The 3.5 yards per rush attempt are far from ideal. Ditto to the 33 sacks allowed (101st in country).

If there are questions you'd like us to ask the Jayhawks, feel free to post them in the comments section below. We'll do our best to ask them.

And as always, discuss.

Comments

yourworstnightmare 4 years, 4 months ago

"Gill: My purpose on this earth is to work with and teach young men."

Hmmmm. I was under the impression that he was hired to win football games. Thoughts like this are why Gill was not hired at Nebraska. They do not speak well of his desire to win.

Mary Sucha 4 years, 4 months ago

Who do you think Gill learned from? Read the interview below and you might learn something. Gill has the same philosophy, hopefully he can change the KU football culture.

Since 1962, KU has won 4 games against NU and 2 of those wins were against a Bill Callahan coached team that unfortunately, had the same philosophy as you seem to have.

"Pelini recalled his job interview with athletic director Tom Osborne, and his answer when Osborne asked him about his coaching philosophy. Pelini said his job wasn’t to win football games. It was to prepare players for the rest of their lives. By doing so, he was also preparing them to win on Saturdays."

“It goes hand in hand,” Pelini said. “The same things that are going to allow them to have success are the same things that are going to allow them to be a man."

“When I go recruiting kids, I don’t tell them about how much they’re going to play or how many championships they’re going to win, how many All-American honors they’re going to get. I tell them, ‘We’re going to give you an opportunity, we’re going to prepare you, we’re going to have your back, we’re going to give you every opportunity to make sure you’re ready for that next step in your life.

“I also say if you’re not ready to come out and hit and compete and get after it on a daily basis, you’re coming to the wrong place, because we’re going to ask you to compete in every area of your life. And if you’re not, we’re going to take our foot and kick it square up your you-know-what.”

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