Since arriving as the new football coach at
Kansas, Turner Gill has offered some bold rhetoric, considering he
inherited a seven-game losing streak.
On signing day, the bold predictions continued.
"We're going to win right now," Gill said. "I
don't see a situation or a position where we evaluated and after
looking at things we had to say, 'This position right here is a serious
need. Let's go get a junior college guy.' That was not our thinking."
So, the Jayhawks included just one junior college
transfer among the 18 players they signed in a class ranked just 55th
overall by Rivals.com and ninth in the Big 12.
That doesn't sound like much of a quick fix after
Mark Mangino was fired following a 5-7 finish and amid allegations the
eight-year coach mistreated players. Kansas finished last in the North
after it was expected to contend for the division title.
"There's nobody who has a starting job at this
point in time, whether they played for two years or three years here,"
Gill said. "We're going to evaluate every guy on this football team,
and the best guys are going to play, whether he's a senior or a
That approach gives the one junior college signee
a chance to contribute immediately, and he just happens to be a
Quinn Mecham initially committed to the former
staff after throwing for 3,091 yards and 40 touchdowns last season at
Snow Community College. He will participate in spring drills and
compete for a open berth at quarterback, where sophomore Kale Pick is
the only returnee with any experience.
Among the high school signees, Kansas gained two
four-star recruits from Missouri. Wide receiver Keeston Terry of Blue
Springs committed to the previous staff and is considered a potential
breakout star. Meanwhile, running back Brandon Bourbon of Potosi
switched to Kansas late after initially committing to Stanford.
--Kansas released details pertaining to new coach
Turner Gill's compensation. His $2 million annual salary is slightly
less than the $2.3 million of former coach Mark Mangino, who signed a
contract extension in the summer of 2008 but was fired in December
following an investigation into mistreatment of players.
--Among the coaches Turner Gill assembled for his
staff is Reggie Mitchell, who left Illinois for his second tour of duty
at Kansas. He originally coached for the Jayhawks under Glen Mason.
"When we first got here in 1988, it was broken," Mitchell said of the
situation Mason inherited. "If you look at the program now, I wouldn't
say it's broken at all." Two years off an Orange Bowl appearance, the
Jayhawks are more recognizable, according to Mitchell, who added that
KU's facilities would rank among the best in the Big Ten.
--RB Brandon Bourbon, Potosi, Mo. -- A four-star
prospect (Rivals) who switched his commitment late after previously
pledging to Stanford. Set the career rushing record for his high school
with 5,551 yards, including a single-game record of 451 yards.
--QB Quinn Mecham, Provo, Utah -- The only junior
college transfer in the class, Mecham averaged 257 passing yards per
game to rank fifth nationally. Pickup games weren't hard growing up. He
has 12 siblings.
--WR Keeston Terry, Blue Springs, Mo. -- Produced
900-yard seasons as a receiver as both a senior and junior. His father,
Doug Terry, played for Kansas before moving on to a brief NFL career as
a defensive back.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The brand is a little different
than the time before. Then, there weren't a ton of people trying to get
the KU job. This time there was, especially two years coming off the
Orange Bowl." -- Kansas recruiting coordinator Reggie Mitchell.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
2010 LOOK AHEAD: With Turner Gill taking over as
coach, expect an overhaul in philosophy and schemes. The former Buffalo
coach wants to throw the ball, and may be in a good situation breaking
in a new quarterback who is not accustomed to running the old system.
RB Toben Opurum is a power back with promise. WR Bradley McDougald also
showed star power as a freshman. Defensively, the Jayhawks will have to
be re-tooled after losing their best player, SS Darrell Stuckey, off a
unit that often gave up too many easy completions and snagged fewer
interceptions than any Big 12 team.
SPRING SNAPSHOT: Introducing a new system will be
the main thrust for Gill. As with any new coach, virtually every
position will be up for grabs -- and they should be after the Jayhawks
lost their most experienced playmakers and also lost the last seven
games of the 2009 season. Gill has promised a positive approach, a
tactical move designed to reduce whatever fear the Jayhawks felt
playing under coach Mark Mangino. Still, the toughness Mangino
instilled in his eight years at Kansas cannot be lost. This is, after
--SS Darrell Stuckey -- Tied for game-high honors
with seven tackles for the West squad in the East-West Shrine Game.
Stuckey was the Jayhawks' leading tackler with 93 stops in 2009.
--WR Kerry Meier -- The record-setting receiver
figures to be a good possession target in the NFL, especially if he
capitalizes on his 6-4 frame. Meier is a versatile threat who started
at quarterback for Kansas in 2006.
--QB Todd Reesing -- Size is a major deterrent for
the 5-10 Reesing, even though he rewrote virtually all the Kansas
passing records as a three-year starter. When asked about his size at
the next level while in camp for the East-West Shrine Game, Reesing
said, "I'm tall enough to ride the rides over at Universal Studios."
--OL Darius Parish was arrested in Johnson County
(Kan.) on four charges in late December, with the most serious being
one felony count of making a criminal threat. Parish redshirted as a
sophomore offensive lineman after making the switch from playing on the
defensive line as a true freshman.
--DE Geneo Grissom was the most high-profile
commitment to renege on Kansas following the hiring of coach Turner
Gill. Grissom, who signed with Oklahoma, was rated as a three-star
(Rivals.com) prospect out of Hutchinson, Kan. With the addition of
Grissom, Oklahoma signed the top three prep prospects out of Kansas
after also luring QB Blake Bell of Wichita and WR Justin McCay of
--Among former Kansas assistants who worked under
Mark Mangino, the coach who made the biggest move was Ed Warinner. He
was named as offensive line coach at Notre Dame after previously
coordinating the Kansas offense. None of Mangino's assistants were
retained by Gill.
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