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Pick the right choice at QB for KU
Thursday, 15 days before the first game of the 2010 season, Kansas University football coach Turner Gill tapped sophomore Kale Pick as his starting quarterback.
The choice did not come without thought. Weeks of evaluation by Gill and his coaching staff — particularly offensive coordinator Chuck Long — led to the decision to name Pick the starter.
Now that he’s done so, Gill and the Jayhawks can move on and start preparing for the season opener Sept. 4.
Let the fun begin. Every day from here on out will be different for the Jayhawks. Pick is now their unquestioned leader. Although seniors Sal Capra, Chris Harris, Jake Laptad, Angus Quigley and Justin Springer officially were named captains on Wednesday, Pick’s leadership ability will go the furthest in determining how the Jayhawks fare this season.
That’s good news for Kansas fans because that’s the main reason Pick won the job. Throughout the weeks that he battled with red-shirt freshman Jordan Webb, Pick carried himself with more confidence and, in many ways, seemed to be a natural leader.
I spent quite a lot of time around both guys during those weeks and, although I grew to like Webb a lot — classy, kind, down-to-earth, a genuine joy to talk with — I always came away feeling as if Pick was right guy for the job.
Call it the it factor, call it whatever you want, but Pick has it. It just seems as if he was born to inherit this job, be it at Kansas or on some other college campus.
Make no mistake, though, Pick did not simply inherit the job. He earned it. And he earned it by winning a battle against a very capable opponent.
It’s no secret by now that Webb has the better arm of the two. High school highlight videos reveal that Webb also has the ability to improvise when plays break down, sort of the same thing that Todd Reesing brought to the table, albeit in a less effective manner thus far. Webb also used his intelligence and desire to soak up the offense like a sponge to benefit him in the competition.
That’s what makes Pick’s victory all the more impressive. The coaches never said it (nor would they), but you almost got the sense that, because of his arm strength, they wanted to give Webb every opportunity to win the quarterback job. Play-calling becomes a lot easier when you’ve got a guy who can stretch the field with a flick of his wrist.
That’s why the battle went into the third week of preseason camp. Ultimately, though, Pick’s skillset — he’s very good at a little bit of everything — and his demeanor won him the job. As I mentioned before, it just seems as if the guy was born to be a college quarterback. He’s got the look, he’s got the name (if Kale Pick weren’t good enough already Johnny Quarterback would suffice), he’s got the confidence and he’s got the ability.
Now he just needs to show it in games. And there’s no doubt in my mind that he will. With a plethora of capable running backs and dangerous wideouts — not to mention tight end Tim Biere — surrounding him, Pick will have his, well, pick of options on just about every play. And because his physical attributes — strong and decisive in the pocket, good arm, good instincts and willingness to scoot forward for positive yardage with his feet — will allow him to find ways to get the ball in the right hands, he should do very well in running KU’s offense into the new era.
I asked Pick on Thursday if he saw himself in the same mold as Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson, former NFL quarterbacks known as “game managers,” who led their respective teams to Super Bowl titles.
Pick’s answer shows exactly why he was chosen to be the KU leader.
“I wouldn’t put myself in the same category as those quarterbacks,” he said. “Probably more than that.”
Asked further if he expected the job to be a breeze because of all of the capable bodies around him, Pick gave a nod to his teammates.
“I don’t know about easy, it’s pretty tough playing quarterback,” he said. “But it helps. We have good weapons out here, for sure, and they do make it easier on me. If I throw a short pass to Daymond (Patterson) and he takes it to the house for about 50 yards, that’s definitely easy. We have a lot of talent and it does help me out.”
Now, with the guessing and speculating done, the Jayhawks have 15 days to put that talent together in a manner that will win games.