"Kale Pick's Our Guy"

Kale Pick served as an astute understudy to Todd Reesing the past two seasons.

He watched the legendary Kansas quarterback set virtually every school record while paying his dues redshirting his first year in 2008 and then seeing limited action as a redshirt freshman last season, playing in seven games and completing four of five passes for 22 yards and rushing for 167 yards on 14 carries.

Reesing has now graduated and the Pick era of KU football commences. The sophomore and Dodge City, Kan., native will be making his first start at quarterback in the season opener Saturday at 6 p.m. (CT) when KU hosts North Dakota State at Memorial Stadium.

"I'm ready for the opportunity," Pick said. "All the hard work, not only this year but my whole career, I'm ready to get going. I'm excited."

Pick has actually talked to Reesing a couple of times about his starting debut.

"He just told me to go out and do what I do," Pick said. "He's seen me plenty of time in action at practice and scrimmages, and some last year. (He said), ‘go out there and have fun with it.'"

Pick is ready to have fun after working hard this offseason to earn the starting quarterback position over redshirt freshman Jordan Webb.

He got that honor two weeks ago when first-year head coach Turner Gill pegged Pick as the starter.

"Kale Pick's our guy," Gill said.

 Pick has since become more confident and a better leader.

"You can only lead so much when you are in competition time," Pick said. "Once you name the starter, you can go out there and be more vocal and show them you are the guy.

"A lot of people probably wouldn't listen to you if you tried to take over during competition because there is a chance you might not be named the starter. So it definitely developed after I was named the starter."

While Pick's leadership skills have increased, senior offensive lineman Brad Thorsen said Pick has also continued to work hard and become a better player.

"Kale hasn't missed a beat (since being named the starter)," Thorsen said. "That's a big thing. It hasn't been a big ego boost or I'm something bigger now. He still has the same work ethic he had before. He still comes to work every day knowing he's got to make better reads and see the routes better and control the huddle a little bit better.

"I think the biggest thing we've seen is a level of consistency. There hasn't really been a change of personality or maybe a falling off because he feels like the battle's (quarterback competition) over and the game's won. The game is Saturday, and he sees that as an important concept."

Indeed, he does.

Pick has been preparing hard this week for NDSU, both physically and mentally.

"Lately, I've been envisioning the game and have it go well," Pick said. "Kind of imagining the defenses that will be thrown at me and see those in my head and what I would do on certain game calls."

He's also gearing for Saturday with great conversations with Gill, quarterback coach/offensive coordinator Chuck Long, and his teammates. Pick said he's learned a great deal from Gill and Long, who were both star quarterbacks in college — Gill at Nebraska and Long at Iowa.

"They haven't been here that long, but they've helped me out big time," Pick said. "The fact they've been there before, they've told me advice, not just on the field but off the field. What they've really stressed is the work ethic they had to be be successful and the preparation they had coming into their games.

"Just the advice they've given me is remarkable."

Pick has received guidance as well from his teammates, especially two of his closest friends on the team, offensive lineman Sal Capra and tight end Tim Biere.

"We just hang out and talk about the game and how it's going to be like," Pick said. "We can't wait to get out there. They're excited for me, as much as I'm excited for them to get the season going."

Senior receiver Jonathan Wilson expects Pick to come up big on Saturday.

"I think he is going to handle his first game starting very well," Wilson said. "He likes to run the ball and he has a lot of confidence and I believe he is going to make a lot of plays out there for us."

After losing its last seven games games in 2009, Pick believes KU can gain a lot of confidence and momentum by getting off to a great start this fall.

"I think it's huge," Pick said. "If we come out and win a few games to start the season, I think we can get on a roll. It builds momentum for our team and just the atmosphere we have for the stadium every Saturday. It's very important to take one game at a time and get as many wins as possible."

KU's first chance is Saturday. Pick surely knows he has big shoes to fill replacing Reesing — not only his individual accomplishments but how he approached the game.

"His work ethic is probably the biggest thing I learned from him," Pick said. "During summer workouts, we'd get out there and work out and do ladder drills and stuff like that. We'd always have a competition between me and him. He always wanted the competition and so did I. We always competed each day in the offseason in 100 degree weather. Whatever the circumstances, we liked to compete against each other."

Pick now hopes to make a special mark himself on the KU football program with Gill and KU fans watching his every move. He doesn't hesitate when asked if he'd like to have a career like Reesing.

"Oh yeah, he was a great quarterback," Pick said. "I think any quarterback would take the career he had."

Phog.net Top Stories