Reesing Prepared to Meet High Expectations

It was news to KU head football coach Mark Mangino at Big 12 media day Tuesday that his star player was dancing in the locker room prior to the biggest game of his life.

As his teammates were preparing to take the field at Dolphin Stadium for the 2008 Orange Bowl, then-sophomore QB Todd Reesing was suited up and plugged into an mp3 player, showing some moves that would make Jason Taylor proud.

“He was dancing?” Mangino asked. “Good. He can dance before every game.”

But anyone who consulted the KU football media guide wouldn't have been surprised. Reesing lists dancing as one of his hobbies.

“I just like to dance every now and then, you know? Have a little fun,” Reesing says, matter-of-factly.

That impromptu Miami shuffle tells you a lot about Reesing and how he approaches the game. It is a game, after all. You're supposed to have fun.

“That's kind of every game,” Reesing explained. “I don't get the pregame jitters or sit in my locker. I'm walking around. I don't like sitting down before the game. I'm just out there, doing what I love, and having fun. If I'm dancing and listening to music, so be it.”

It's that kind of mindset – and some amazing offensive numbers – that makes Reesing so successful and puts him on the Davey O'Brien Watch List for the nation's top player and the Maxwell Watch List as the nation's top QB.

It also seems to be a good mindset for a young man who suddenly finds himself on everyone's guest list.

“Everybody in Lawrence, Kansas, says they want to know him and that they pal around with him and he's their buddy,” Mangino observed. “He's been invited just about everywhere. I think if he continues to do a good job managing going from being a player that was not well-known, who was competing for a position last year at this time, to being someone that's highly respected as a player in our league, that's the key.”

Mangino warns Reesing that when things are going well, people tend to give you too much credit. Conversely, when they aren't going well, a visible guy like him gets too much of the blame.

Reesing seems to wear his newfound celebrity about as well as he does a football uniform. He smiled as he talked about it.

“It hasn't been too bad. Living in Lawrence, it's a small town. You know, people come up to you and it's all been good stuff. They say congratulations, we really enjoyed the season. So, it hasn't been anything too bad.”

He also shows a common sense and maturity that belie his age. No one else in college football has a better grasp of what to worry about and what not to worry about when it comes to college football.

Ask him if it bugs him that last year's stellar 12-1 record and a BCS bowl win haven't translated into more respect, even with local media who saw what Kansas was capable of.

“Last year we were picked fifth in the North and I think we did a little bit better than that,” he said. “That's how we want it to be; we want to be overlooked because it's a lot more fun playing when people don't want you to succeed.”

Ask him if he ever worried about last year's supposedly “weak” schedule.

“I can't control that. I play who's on the schedule. Whoever's on the schedule, we're going to go out there and do our best.”

Do you ever regret burning your redshirt?

“I don't,” he said with no hesitation. “Without that experience going into the spring, I wouldn't have been able to beat out Kerry (Meier) or even get the opportunity to.”

In a league full of good quarterbacks, does Reesing think he gets his due?

“I'm not really worried about what publicity I'm getting. The only thing I'm worried about is getting ready for this season and playing the best I can. The rest will fall as it will.”

So what does this seemingly laid-back Texas worry about? Getting better. When it comes to improving in all facets of the game, he has an intense drive to push himself physically and mentally.

“There's always more to prove,” Reesing said. “You can always get better. You can always improve your knowledge of the game, improve your leadership. There's always something you can improve on, and your job as an athlete is to make yourself better each year.”

Part of Reesing's maturity is remembering what got him this far: minimizing big mistakes and not trying to do everything. He plans to do the same thing this year, too.

He said, “The one thing that allowed me to be successful last year was just playing within the system. I didn't try to force too many things. I tried to limit turnovers and mistakes and keep us in a position that if a play wasn't going to be good, don't make it really bad.”

He also acknowledged, though, that that can be difficult.

“When you're a competitive person,” Reesing admitted, “you want to make every single play.”

His coach agrees that Reesing can improve, but while Mangino typically hands out compliments like OPEC gives out free oil, he came awfully close to saying Tuesday that Reesing is becoming a really good college football player.

“I think he needs to continue to work on getting his reads and getting rid of the ball quickly, which is something I think he does very well. I think that the mental part of the game, he's very good at, but I think there are some areas he can still brush up. You know, he's going to get a lot of looks from the defense this year. They're going to try and disguise their coverages a lot and their blitzes and they going to try and fool him. So he needs to continue to be a good student of the game, watching a lot of tape, studying the opponent and studying himself.”

Any comments on Reesing's dance moves will be reserved for later this season. Or, hopefully, as in 2007, later this post-season.

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