"I just know that's where I belong."

Head Coach Turner Gill and the Kansas Jayhawks added their 13th commitment to the Class of 2011 this week, in Alma (AR) High School linebacker Jason Hensley.

One of the perks of being head football coach at the University of Kansas is office space with a great view of Memorial Stadium.

Sitting in that office with his parents and Head Coach Turner Gill on Tuesday, Jason Hensley took in the view, smiled, and made a decision.

"Coach," he asked Gill. "This is a dumb question, but how do you commit?"

In the case of the first year Jayhawks head man, the answer was exceedingly simple – with handshakes, hugs and a little bit of celebrating.

The Kansas coaching staff has been recruiting Hensley since the spring, making the decision to offer the star linebacker from Alma (AR) High School after evaluating film sent to them by his head coach, Todd Dilbeck.

Possessed of great size and athleticism for the position, Hensley currently stands 6-foot-2.5 inches tall, weighs in at 215 pounds and claims a stellar time of 4.57 seconds in the 40 yard dash.

Such athleticism is rare, Dilbeck said, but his intelligence on the field and overall understanding of the game may be an even greater asset. His abilities have made him the team's leading tackler in each of the past two seasons, posting 100+ in both his sophomore and junior campaigns.

"He studies game film, he understands what's going on," the Airedales head coach said. "He makes our calls for us defensively. He does have that understanding of the game which is a big plus."

During his recruitment, Hensley earned scholarship offers from Kansas and Tulsa, as well as interest from a number of other schools, including home-state Arkansas and Oklahoma State.

The dedication shown by the Kansas coaches in recent months has helped them stand out, Dilbeck said.

"First of all, I think they're doing a great job of getting out," he explained. "This is the first time we've had somebody from that area down in our area. A lot of times recruiting is just getting out there and being visible, and they are doing that. They're making their mark on the recruiting trail."

Tuesday's unofficial visit to the Lawrence, Kan. campus marked Hensley's first trip to the Sunflower State. As are many recruits during their initial meeting with Mount Oread, he was surprised by what he found – from the aesthetic beauty of the campus to the family atmosphere in the football offices.

"I just kind of walked in and all the coaches, all of them, were just waiting for me in the lobby," he said. "Even the video guys and stuff, they were just waiting to meet me and shake my head."

Though he had spoken with offensive line coach J.B. Grimes before, both via telephone and in person when Grimes visited AHS in the spring, Tuesday was Hensley's first opportunity to meet the rest of the coaching staff.

Gill and defensive coordinator Carl Torbush – his future position coach with the Jayhawks – made particularly strong impressions with the talented prospect from the Natural State.

"Coach Gill, he's just a big Christian guy," Hensley. "That's a big thing for me. He told me there wasn't going to be any cussing and I don't cuss anyway, so that's a big thing."

It's a long way until Signing Day 2011 in February, and the Arkansas coaches at the very least have indicated that a scholarship offer to Hensley could still be forthcoming. It's a safe bet interest from other Division One programs will continue to come in as well.

However, with his parents in full support of his decision, he left little doubt about the strength of his commitment.

Jason Hensley is a Jayhawk.

"I think it shows up in a man when he commits to somebody and stays with them," he said. "I'm gonna stick with Kansas really through anything. I just know that's where I belong, and the coaches showed me that when I went up there, so I'm gonna stick with them."


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