KU Players Responding

When one considers how important personal relationships are to Turner Gill, it is perhaps fitting that they are what stand out to the Jayhawks head football coach about his first spring on Mount Oread.

The ease with which everyone has meshed has been a source of pride for Turner Gill, much of the credit for which he placed on the shoulders of his assistant coaches.

"Our players have responded," Gill said, of the changes within the program. "And probably the biggest thing is too just seeing how close this football team is. As you come in here you have no idea what they're going to respond to, how they're going to respond. But right off the bat the first day, and even today still, this is a very, very close-knit group of guys."

As is expected, a new staff brings with it a new system, a new way of doing business. With the players asked to learn that new system in a matter of weeks, to forget old habits and adjust to the expectations of their new coaches, the learning curve can get pretty steep. Throw in heated position battles at several key positions, and the potential is there for it to become even more precipitous.

But Gill has liked what he's seen from his new team. Each day has been about improvement, he said, about taking another step forward as individuals and as a squad. If they make sure they have more good days than "not so good" days, there is progress being made.

Thus far, the Jayhawks have risen to the challenge.

"I like to see speed, I like to see aggressiveness, I like to see physicality going on, and then guys running to the football on both sides of the ball," Gill explained. "So that's what gets me excited and seeing that we have an opportunity to continue to progress. So I have been seeing some of that. Like I said, I've seen more good days than I have not so good days, from that standpoint. These last four days are really going to tell me a whole lot about our football team as far as how they (will) work in the summer when we're not around."

Saturday's Spring Game will give fans their first glimpse of these new-look Jayhawks, though Gill cautioned against expecting a rock-solid two-deep to emerge with the conclusion of spring practices. Most of the position battles will extend into the fall, including the highly-publicized question to find Todd Reesing's successor.

Early in the spring, redshirt freshman Jordan Webb earned Gill's praise for his performance in the team's first official scrimmage. Since then, however, sophomore Kale Pick and junior college transfer Quinn Mecham have also distinguished themselves.

This week, Gill expressed pleasure with the improvement of walk-on basketball player Connor Teahan, a former standout on the gridiron for nearby Rockhurst High School who is now taking a stab at becoming a two-sport athlete collegiately.

"He's getting there," Gill said, of Teahan. "Obviously he's behind the eight ball just a little bit because of time, but again I've seen improvement and that's all I can ask any of our guys to do. Whether they've been playing football for a year, or haven't been doing it for three years, or whatever. He's making it interesting, because with the reps that he's been getting every time I've seen him do some things that are like 'Wait, I like that.''

A format for the Spring Game will be decided on later this week, and as of now Gill wasn't sure how the teams would be split. Injuries would dictate that more than anything.

Regardless, he said, they hoped for a big crowd to help cap off the spring in style.

"Come see the talent that we have," Gill said, addressing Jayhawk fans. "And again it's going to be a good situation for them to get a good preview of what we're doing. There's been some changes at certain positions and I think they're going to see some improvement in certain things that we're doing. I hope our fans come out and see it, and we appreciate their support. "

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