‘Ready to go’: Jayhawks excited for what Lance Leipold has in store

photo by: Associated Press

Kansas players celebrate with Nate Betts (34) after he recovered a fumble from Texas Tech during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/Brad Tollefson)

Players in the Kansas football program will get to know their new head coach, Lance Leipold, much better in the weeks and months ahead. And the Jayhawks left a whirlwind weekend for the program anticipating what’s ahead.

“The impression I got from my new coach,” super-senior Nate Betts said after Saturday’s spring game, “is that he’s ready to go. And that’s what I like.”

Not long after arriving in Lawrence on Friday, the day KU hired him to take over the program, Leipold addressed the entire team. The introduction came following a light practice for the Jayhawks, and Leipold told them at the time he “could not be more excited” about being their coach.

In the weeks ahead, Leipold has said he plans to meet with every player in the program one-on-one. Before he could do that the former Buffalo head coach made sure to prioritize meeting his players during his first official day on the job.

Another KU veteran, super-senior nose tackle Sam Burt appreciated hearing from the new coach as soon as possible.

“It was really great to meet Coach Leipold. He said a lot of great things (Friday) when he met us,” Burt said, “and I’m excited to see what he’s like in action, once we get into some things in the summer and in the fall.”

According to junior tight end Mason Fairchild, Leipold made a good first impression.

“He seems like a really great guy and I feel like he’s going to be a really great fit for us,” Fairchild said. “The way he spoke, I think it clicked with some of our guys. So I’m excited to see where we’re going to go with him.”

The spring game is typically one of the offseason dates players look forward to most anyway, but Saturday’s showcase at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium came with heightened expectations for some players, given the unique circumstances.

Just a day after their new head coach arrived, the players got to showcase their skills for him at an open scrimmage. Normally, of course, coaching transitions come in the winter, and not in the final days of spring ball.

“It did affect us a little bit, but in a good way I think,” Burt said of having Leipold in attendance as they closed out the 15-practice offseason slate. “It was a little odd having a new coach come in just before the spring game, but it was good to meet him and it was good to hear where his head was at and where he wants to take us.”

While the players would’ve entered the spring game motivated regardless of the situation, Fairchild said, he thought having Leipold as one of the many observers in attendance likely gave some players an added boost.

“It’s basically his first impression, so you’ve got to put up a good résumé,” Fairchild said.

Added Burt: “Where we’re at right now is what Coach Leipold has to work with, and I’m really excited, because we had a great game and I’m excited to see where we can take it in the fall with Coach Leipold.”

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