Starting line: ‘It’s great to be out there with those kids,’ Beaty says of first practice

Members of the Kansas line get down as they run through protection drills during the first day of practice on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015 at the fields south of Anschutz Pavilion.

Already known for his energy, passion and unrelenting enthusiasm, first-year Kansas University football coach David Beaty on Thursday did his best to dwell in reality following the first official practice of the 2015 season.

Just moments after his team returned to the Anderson Family Football Complex by school bus from the practice fields west of Hoglund Ballpark, Beaty spoke with excitement in his tone but a measured pause in his voice about what he saw on Day 1.

“Man, you know, it’s one day,” Beaty said. “It was great to be out there with those kids. I know they’ve been chomping at the bit to get out there and we have, too.”

On the grass practice fields used during the Mark Mangino era and before because of the threat of extreme temperatures on the turf, Beaty and the Jayhawks did their best to pick up where they left off at the end of spring practices while making sure to slowly and surely blend in the host of newcomers going through their first Big 12 practice.

“It’s not a big departure from spring because you’re trying to get people taught,” Beaty said. “We’ve got upwards of 33 new faces here and we’re trying to see who we’ve got and what they can do so we are a little bit in evaluation mode right now.”

Because of that, there were moments that Beaty wished went better. But when he was asked to name a few players who stood out on Day 1, the rookie head coach rattled off nearly 20 names, many of them wide receivers, his area of expertise as an assistant coach.

“I was pleased with the amount of reps that we got,” Beaty said. “I do think we’ve gotta get our energy level up. I think our guys have to get used to the schedule a little bit. But I was pleased with the anxiousness they had all day. They couldn’t wait to get out there.”

For Beaty himself, the first official practice of his first season as a college head coach carried a couple of different emotions.

“There’s not a day that I walk in this place that I don’t thank God for that opportunity,” he said. “I mean, it’s humbling. I take it very seriously and it’s something that I’m very, very honored and proud to be a part of. So today was emotional when I first stepped across that line but they hired me to do a job so the deal was to get focused and get out there and let’s get going and have some fun. We took a first step today.”

A big, and possibly the best, part of that first step was simply the idea of getting reps on film for the players to watch. Beaty noted what an incredible advantage technology is these days, with the players able to get their individual practice cut-ups on their phones or iPads within 30 minutes of the end of practice.

And Beaty believes that film work along with the proper mindset and maximum effort from every coach and all 105 players will help his Jayhawks go the direction he hopes they can go.

“They’re a different mental team than they were in the spring and, man, we needed it,” said Beaty, lauding the work of strength coach Je’Ney Jackson and his staff this summer. “Our goal is to get a little bit better every day, make sure we go forward, let’s just don’t go backwards. If we do that, we’ll make progress that we’re proud of. It’s just one day. That’s all it is. Tomorrow, the challenge is to be able to make it better.”