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LJWorld.com weblogs Tale of the Tait

New era for Kansas football brings new era for KUSports.com

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There were a million ways I could have played it but I decided to just come right out and say it.

My name is Matt Tait. I’m a 31-year-old Kansas University graduate and 22-year Lawrence resident and I run a 5.31-second 40-yard dash.

I realize that last bit of information might not seem all that important. And to college coaches and professional scouts it’s probably not. But to me — and for the sake of this blog — it is because I think it illustrates, in some small way, that I was born to cover football, which I will begin to do exclusively for the Lawrence Journal-World and KUSports.com beginning today.

Let me explain.

Last Thanksgiving some friends and I were sitting around watching the Denver Broncos play the New York Giants on the NFL Network. We were full from a fine feast and were enjoying the company of friends and football. Midway through the game a commercial for the NFL Combine came across the screen and got our blood flowing. Husbands and wives alike began to joke with each other about what our 40 times would be. We gawked at the thought of how much fun we would have being let loose in a combine-like setting to test our speed, strength and agility, much the way former Jayhawks Darrell Stuckey, Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier will do in Indianapolis beginning Wednesday.

Some day, we pledged, we’d put our bodies to the test. As it turned out, “some day” came the very next day, when my wife and I headed to Free State High to time ourselves on the turf. Knowing what goes into fast times and flawless runs, I wore the lightest clothing I could find and warmed up profusely. My goal was simple. I wanted to run a respectable time and, probably more importantly, I wanted to walk away free of injury.

I nailed the injury-free part. And based on the reactions of most people I told, the time was at the very least respectable.

The point is this. You don’t often hear about 40 times in basketball or baseball. The 40-yard dash is irrelevant in sports such as volleyball and tennis and nobody who wrestles or golfs cares a lick about a 40 time. But football fans do. And I definitely am one.

As the Journal-World’s newest KU football beat writer, I hope to bring some of that same passion to the beat. I hope to provide as much information as you desire and, beyond that, I hope to engage in several interesting and informative discussions about all things Kansas football. We’ll have all the news you can digest, we’ll have regular blogs and on-line features that you can get involved with and we’ll turn it up a notch in recruiting. In short: We’re going to have a blast.

Throughout the last 10 years of my life people often have asked me what sport I enjoyed covering the most. Without hesitation, the answer was always football. There’s just something about the game that I’ve always loved, something special that makes me want to submerge myself in its stories. I’ve even gone as far as to embellish the story of my birth — in Boulder, Colo., in 1978 — to say that the first thing I saw outside of the Boulder Memorial Hospital window after being welcomed to this world was Colorado University’s Folsom Field.

If there’s one thing I’ve been told I do well in this line of work, it’s communicate. And now that I’ve reached this new level it’s time for me to show that off. I’m not just talking about telling good stories or writing interesting articles. I’m talking about listening, too. If you have ideas, I want to hear them. If you have questions, I want to answer them.

As you all know, KU has a new football coach in Turner Gill and will have a largely new team with a host of fresh faces on the field this fall. I’m looking forward to beginning my college football coverage with this new group and hope that I, too, can add to the excitement surrounding Kansas football.

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