A quick decision to move the start of spring football from Saturday to Sunday, however – with a little help from Mother Nature – made for cool temperatures and sunny skies as the Jayhawks took to the practice fields for the first time under their new head coach.
Meeting with the media just prior to practice, Gill was asked what he felt as he walked from the Anderson Family Football Complex to the practice fields for the first time.
One word, he said, managed to sum it up perfectly.
"Excitement," Gill said, smiling from ear to ear. "It's just an exciting opportunity to be here to coach. I'm excited to be here in this great conference, this Big 12 conference. I'm very excited to be here at this great University of Kansas, and we're just excited to get this thing going."
Though questions remain as to the exact nature of the Kansas offensive and defensive systems – including which current players are best suited to implement those systems - a few things became clear Sunday. For one, Gill emphasized that every player will start basically from scratch in the eyes of the coaches.
In fact, he added, very little film was watched from past practices and games, to allow the coaching staff to approach evaluations at each position with open minds.
"I think overall for the most part it gives everybody, this whole football team, a fresh start. We're going to evaluate on what we see. We're not just going to guess on what they might have done in the past, but what they're able to do right now."
This is just the beginning of the process, however, and during the course of the next fifteen days, Gill and Co. will begin to develop a greater understanding of the talent they have at their disposal. They're not going to remain static, he said, and will instead design their systems and schemes to fit the strengths of their personnel.
For the first 3-4 days, no depth charts will be utilized, preliminary or otherwise. After the first week of practice, however, the two-deep will begin to take shape.
As the players hollered and bounced around behind him, clearly amped up to finally be back on the field, it was clear their new coach shared the sentiment.
"These 15 days of practice are just the beginning," Gill said. "And it's awesome. It's awesome to get started here. We've just been waiting for this opportunity."
Media will be allowed to stick around and watch the first 20 minutes of practice during six individual sessions this spring. Here are a few notes from today:
- Vernon Brooks has been dismissed from the team for violation of team rules. The dismissal, Gill said, is permanent.
- Tanner Hawkinson looks every bit of 300 pounds. That is one large human being.
- Both Darius Parish and John Williams practiced at defensive tackle.
- Kick returners were Isiah Barfield, D.J. Beshears, Daymond Patterson and DeShaun Sands.
- It's way too early to tell, but Kale Pick sure looked good in drills. He's added significant zip to his short and medium-range passes, from what we can tell.
- In the offensive skeleton drills, the first set run was a double-tight, single back formation, with the quarterback under center. Gill confirmed the team will do a significant portion of under-the-center work with QB's.
- A.J. Steward is playing WR now, not tight end, and he's a big one to say the least. He's listed at 233 pounds, and it's not hard to believe.
- Drew Dudley is practicing only in limited drills, and Gill said there will be a few more pop up on the injured list when it is revealed Wednesday. Again, it's difficult to tell what means what out there at this point, but the third linebacker running with projected starters Huldon Tharp and Justin Springer in defensive drills was Josh Richardson.
Check back later for more on interviews with individual players and coaches.