Signing Day Recap: "We're gonna win now."

New Kansas head coach Turner Gill was all smiles when he announced his first class of signees – 17 high schoolers, one junior college player – Wednesday afternoon in Mrkonic Auditorium at KU's Anderson Football Complex at KU.

"We have some excellent recruits," Turner Gill said. "Our staff did a great job in a short period of time to go out across the country and find the right guys that fit the University of Kansas."

Gill, like every other coach in the country, went after athletes with speed, length and athleticism.

He got those traits in nearly every player he recruited, from 6-2 WR Ricki Herod to 6-1 DB Dexter McDonald, from 6-3 juco QB Quinn Mecham to 6-8 (296) OL Chad Kollumber.

He had other important criteria, as well. He wanted "playmakers," he said, and he wanted young men with a level of professionalism and passion.

The rookie Jayhawks coach credited recruiting coordinator Reggie Mitchell and the rest of his assistants with being diligent in developing relationships with the players who had already committed to Kansas as well as securing new recruits that could help the team.

The coaching change caused some KU commits to hesitate, Gill acknowledged, but the new staff quickly developed relationships with the players who'd already verballed to KU.

"When we went in their homes," Gill explained, "they gave us a chance to explain who we were and what we're all about and how their son or student-athlete will be beneficial still at the University of Kansas."

One recruit that Gill wasn't able to hold onto was Hutchinson High product and four-star DE Geneo Grissom, who flipped commitments when the previous KU coaching staff was encouraged to explore other options. Grissom signed with Oklahoma Wednesday.

"Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't," Gill said, matter-of-factly. "He did what was best for him."

Holding into local players, like Kansas City Rockhurst's McDonald and Blue Springs (MO) native and legacy WR Keeston Terry and was not only important Wednesday but showed one of Gill's priorities: recruiting local players.

The coach said, "We are gonna go out and do national recruiting, but we're gonna start right here in this area. We do wanna keep these guys that are right here in that 100 to 150 mile radius to be right here at KU."

He added later, "We're gonna get our share of top players here in this area. We're not gonna take a back seat to anybody across the country."


"There's nobody that as a starting job at this point in time, whether they started for two years or three years or whatever. We're going to evaluate every guy on this team and the best guy's gonna play, whether he's a senior or a freshman."

Gill doesn't see the any position on the team as one that needed a "quick fix" recruit.

"We're gonna win right now. I don't see a situation where we had to say, 'Hey, this position right here is a need – let's go get a junior college guy.' We wanted to go get the best players available."

He provided a little more insight into his recruiting philosophy: "We're not going to be heavy into the junior colleges; we're going to open it up and see what's the best fit for us, our staff and KU."

Gill said he was confident that his recruiting class was complete, but he said that there might be a late signee or two. He also said that he'd heard some players who had left the program under the previous regime, although he didn't mention anyone by name.

"Yeah, I talked to some of those guys, and I did let those guys on the football team at this time. We'll evaluate 'em. They've got an open slate. They're part of this football team. What's happened has happened; we're moving forward with them. We're movin' on."

He also addressed the elephant in the living room: what does he tell his current Jayhawks who want to rehash problems with his predecessor?

"Move on. It's no different in life, no different in football. You gotta move on. If you continue to talk about things that happened in the past, that's slowin' you down. It's makin' you less productive. So we're movin' on."

Gill wished he'd landed more offensive linemen – he only landed one big ugly – but he said, with everyone coming back, offensive line was not an area of urgent need. Overall, though, he said, "We feel very, very good about all the other positions."

He avoided the old clichés, "Who will make an impact immediately?," and, "Who did you sign who were undervalued?"

"I guess I think all these guys here, if you want to say 'highest rated,' all that, that's what we believe they are. That's all that matters: that we believe these guys are top-notch players and they're gonna fit the University of Kansas and the University of Kansas football staff. We feel very good about all these guys."

He summed up his first recruiting class very succinctly, but with a smile on his face that indicated he was pretty happy with how things had gone.

"We are very, very pleased with the 18 guys that have selected the University of Kansas."

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