Signing Day Press Conference Quotes
Feb. 2, 2011
Signing Day Central
Signing Day Press Conference
Feb. 2, 2011 – Lawrence, Kan.
Kansas Head Coach Turner Gill
“It’s a great day. As I think most of you probably remember (from my first) press conference, recruiting was most of what it was about in this coaching profession. This is a great day definitely for Jayhawk Nation as we have brought in a very talented group. Before we get started though, I want to thank a few groups of people.
First of all, I want to thank the coaching staff and all of the staff that helps us do the things that we need to do in recruiting. I thought they did a tremendous job. We improved tremendously at being able to be efficient at what we’re trying to get done, reaching out to many athletes throughout this country. I thought our staff did a tremendous job with that.
The other (group to thank) is the whole staff in the athletics department. We had other sports, coaches and staffs being involved, being truly engaged in assisting us in our opportunity to bring student-athletes here. Sometimes they had to get involved, and they were very accommodating. They were very instrumental in some cases of some of these student-athletes choosing the University of Kansas. Along with that, the professors, the academic counselors and our mentors are very, very vital and very important as the student-athletes come on our campus to get engaged on the academic side. We had people coming in at the last minute on Saturdays and all those things, making sure that we kept engaged with the academic, the athletic side and even also in the community. That’s an experience for our student-athletes coming to our institution.
Like I mentioned, we are extremely excited to announce the newest members of this Kansas Jayhawk recruiting class in 2011. We have 27 signees. Four of them are already here and involved in our school. They are doing a great job so far – Brock Berglund, Darrian Miller, Dylan Admire and Julius Green. We have players from 11 states. They range from coast to coast. As I came in here, I said that we will recruit here in the state, which I think we got seven guys there. We are also going to go outside of the state. You saw that we will go anywhere from California to Florida as far as getting young men, too.
There were four things (that we were looking for) in this recruiting class. We talked about size. We talked about speed. We talked about explosiveness, and we also wanted to get depth throughout our football team. I know we accomplished that. When you get depth, you get people in your program who want to be competitive. I know that we have definitely made every single position competitive. I think that’s a good thing from a coach’s perspective. I think that’s even a good thing from a player’s perspective. There will be competition at every single spot as we move along.
I’m not necessarily going to speak about every single guy at every position, but I just want to make a general comment about each position. I’m going to start with the offensive line. We got six guys who signed there. I think the one thing that stands out is they are all very athletic. That was one of the things we wanted to look at – a guy being able to pull, a guy being able to show he has quick feet and can move and change direction when something occurs. They showed that on video tape. That’s what I mean by offensive lineman being athletic. We definitely got some size. I think we have a lot of guys that can play multiple positions – they may be a center, could be a guard or could be a tackle. We tried to go into this really thinking about going and getting mostly tackles from a frame size. If they maybe don’t have enough mobility to handle speed rushers, then we will move them inside. Then if a guy doesn’t get as big, that person may move in to center. We really started from the outside moving in as far as trying to get offensive lineman. I think we did that.
Running back, I think in that area we were definitely trying to find some people who would be explosive, anytime they touch the football can find the end zone. I think that as you research all three of these guys, they found their way to the end zone many, many times. I think that’s one of the things we wanted to accomplish and we did. These guys have speed. They have explosiveness. When you use the term explosiveness, we’re talking about somebody in a short area – 10 to 15 yards – where they can show a good burst, they can show acceleration, particularly in a running back spot where somebody is trying to tackle them and they don’t make that tackle because that guy runs a burst. He can go from point A to point B in a short period of time. All three of these guys can definitely do that.
Our wide receivers have size. They have speed. They have explosiveness, so I think they fit all of those things we were looking for at wide receiver.
Quarterbacks are (Michael) Cummings and (Brock) Berglund. Those guys will bring in competition. They are explosive. They can make plays with their legs and they can also make plays with their arms. That was something we wanted to try to accomplish at that position.
We have one specialist, Alex Mueller, our kicker. We lost one of our place kickers last year, so we wanted to make sure we had another competitive situation by bringing in another kicker. We do have (Ron) Doherty here, too, as a guy that can do both, so they will be competing for that job.
The linebacker spot was an area where we were serious about speed and trying to get a few people in here. We wanted to make sure we had a good number of linebackers because we lost quite a few guys. We didn’t have much depth last year. They also can run and have the speed and explosiveness. These five guys here have all of that. These guys have shown that they can go from sideline to sideline, they can hit people, they can splatter people and they can knock the ball out. They’ve done that many, many times.
On the defensive line, we wanted to do the same thing that we did on the offensive side. We wanted to start from the outside-in. I wanted to go get defensive ends. Then if those guys can grow to get bigger, then I will move them inside. We really got four defensive ends. Those guys are going to start at defensive end. If they anywhere from 275 to 285 (pounds), then we can move them inside. Then they also have that good pass rushing ability to go inside. Then we can match them up possibly on a guard where he can be successful. We got a great group of guys. They know how to come off the edge.
We got a couple of safeties in (Alex) Matlock and (Victor) Simmons. Those guys are playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. Both of those guys played uniquely on the offensive side. They’ve also played on the defensive side. They can flat-out run. They have the tenacity that you like to see. They can understand what people are trying to do on the offensive side. I think that’s why they’ve made a lot of plays when they’ve played on the defense. We will play them on the defensive side on the ball.
At the cornerback position, we have a couple of guys there with (Chris) Robinson and (Adonis) Saunders. They showed speed. They run track. Mostly you may know and have heard about Adonis Saunders. He’s won the 100- and 200-meters here in the state of Kansas. He can flat-out run. He’s one of the fastest guys here in the Midwest and definitely in the tops in the country. He has very, very good size. Same for Chris Robinson – a very talented young man who also played on the offensive side. He’s also a guy that runs the 200-meters, one of the top guys in the state of Florida, so we are very pleased with him.
On the defensive side, all of those players I mentioned, they all have either run track or they have played on the offensive side. They’ve either played running back, quarterback or receiver, so when you have a defensive guy who’s played on that side of the ball, it goes back to what I talked about originally – speed and explosiveness. All of these defensive guys, whether they are defensive lineman to cornerbacks, they are very athletic, they are very explosive and they can run. That gets us all excited.
The other thing that we talk about is character. I give some surveys and questions to our recruits and coaches to answer and to get a better understanding for if these guys best fit for the University of Kansas. That’s what we are trying to do here, build a program that they fit Kansas. We ask them certain questions. Does the young man have a passion for the game? Is he a leader on his football team and in his community? Do academics mean something to this guy? Does he want to be the very best student-athlete that he can possibly be? These are three or four questions that we ask our (potential) student-athletes and then we put them all together. It’s always an interview. We’re interviewing them. They are interviewing us. Then we come to a common thing at the end where we both agree that Kansas is the best fit for this young man.
I believe this group here really exemplifies what a student-athlete is. This class also has some success on the football field, 23 of the 27 players we signed have played in playoff football games in the last two years of their career. Fourteen of them went on to play in high school state championships and win them as well. This class is full of football players who know how to win. When you are building a winning football program, you need to have people in your program who know how to win, who have experience winning, they understand competition and they thrive on competition. That was the common theme as I kept talking to our staff and talking to the players and then gathering up all of the information.”
On the philosophy of recruiting defensive ends and moving them inside:
“A little of that (is my philosophy) and a little bit of that is from (former Nebraska head coach Tom) Coach Osborne. I know as we got better on defense, when I was at Nebraska, which was one of the things that they did. The most important thing is getting speed; that’s what we talked about earlier. You have to get guys that might not be as big, but they can run and then if you have guys (who get bigger during their careers), they still have the athleticism. In some cases, offensive linemen have trouble with movement, so if you have somebody who has quick movement as a defensive lineman then we have an opportunity to make better plays and cause more havoc. That’s what we want to do is cause havoc because that causes turnovers and disrupts the offense. Some of (the philosophy) is from Coach Osborne and some is just talking to other defensive coaches and that’s how they’re doing it.”
On how his message was received by kids and families throughout the country:
“Really well. When we put it all together, I felt there was a high percentage that when they came to our campus with their parents, we got those people. That was one of our goals; if we got both parents to come on campus I think we were about 100 percent (at getting those kids). I think that’s a huge thing for all of us. As we understand in our society there are a lot of kids who have single parents, however we understand that they may have a single parent that they’re living with, but their other parent may have some type of involvement in their lives. I give a lot of credit to our coaching staff; they did a heck of a job of going out there and getting the parents out here on campus. They all have stated that they truly believe that the University of Kansas will be successful and that’s why their son needs to be here because they want to be a part of building something.”
On recruits who may make an immediate impact on the team:
“I’m not going to say any specific names, but if I had to guess out of this class of 27, I would say that over half will play this year. Again, they could go one way or the other, but I can say anywhere from 15 to 16 of these guys will play this year. They may not all be starters on offense or defense initially, but they may help right away on special teams and then as they mature and are able to move forward they can help us on offense or defense.”
On if the high number of true freshmen playing reflects the team’s needs:
“I think the one that comes back to me is that I want competition. That’s what is really driving me to say that they’re going to play. I’m not saying that they’re going to come in and start right off the bat, but they’re going to have a chance to play and compete. The other thing is speed. That’s something that we need to have on this football team. We’re bringing in people that can help us in that area. When you have competition in all walks of life, you’re either going to rise or you’re going to fall. We want to make sure that we have the right people who are going to rise to the occasion and be able to make plays for us.”
On if speed was the No. 1 priority with this recruiting class:
“Absolutely. Speed was the No. 1 thing that we wanted to get addressed at every position, and we did that. We believe that we did that at every position. We were very fortunate and blessed this year that we had a lot of numbers; we were able to have 27 scholarships available, that’s probably not going to happen again as we go along.”
On if the future of the Big 12 played a part in recruiting this class:
“I probably had a handful of people, who early on in the recruiting process brought up that question. They wanted you to explain what the future of the Big 12 Conference was and I just told them the same facts that we’ve been told. The Big 12 is here to stay. That’s one of the reasons why I chose to come to the University of Kansas, because I’m excited to be here in the Midwest and be a part of the Big 12 area. That was something that some of them (the recruits’ parents) mentioned as well that they wanted their son to play in this area.”
On if it helped that Kansas is going to be going to the state of Texas twice a year:
“That helps. But I think most of them would say that the good thing with (playing games in) Kansas is it’s drivable. `It’s drivable for me and my family to get there.’ For some places in the Texas area it might be six-to-seven-to-nine-to-ten (hours away), but it’s drivable. We also talk about that when your son moves away from Texas he’s going to gain a lot more people to help him as he goes through life. (When you come to Kansas) you’re going to meet a lot more people from all walks of life and all over the country and your son has an opportunity to connect with them. One day, when he’s done playing football, he’s going to have to get a job and when he comes to Kansas, he’s going to have the opportunity to meet a lot more people versus if he stays close to home that he may not have access to. I’m speaking partially on my own behalf, when I grew up in Texas and went to Nebraska, I chose to leave the area because I felt like it would help me in the future to meet more people and get more educated and better prepared to communicate with different people from different walks of life in all parts of the country.”
On if there are any players that really stand out:
“I think there are quite a few guys. That’s why I said there will probably be 15 or 16 who will play this year. I don’t think I can sit here and say this specific one will play because it may not work where he would be coming out and doing the things we need him to do. But we’re going to give quite a few people the opportunity to come in and play. This is a great class. This is a great class because they have speed, they have good character and they all do well academically. We just have put it all together. Obviously it’s going to take some time for (these players) to get some experience to be able to play at this level just like it would at any other school. There is probably two or three years (before they reach their full potential), but there are a handful of guys who are difference makers. They are going to make plays for the University of Kansas.”
On if Brock Berglund could start at quarterback next season:
“Absolutely. All four of the guys who are here (enrolled in classes and are on campus) right now have a slightly better chance (to play right away), because they’ve already gotten acclimated with the campus and also with football getting acclimated to their teammates and our coaching staff. They’re six months ahead of the guys who will be coming in later. It doesn’t mean that they’re always going to respond in the right way, but they’ll have a better chance. They’ll have a better chance of not just competing for a job, but competing for a starting job.”
On if he would be willing to play a freshman at quarterback:
On if he learned anything about KU during the last year that helped him with this recruiting class:
“The one thing is the tradition. Passion about this university. That’s one term that parents use a lot after they visit this university is passion. That’s one thing that they say stands out, they say `Wow, KU is passionate about their athletics, they’re passionate about this town, and they’re passionate about all the things that you want for their son.’ I think one of the things that is great (recruiting tool) for us is being able to take them to a basketball game. People that have been many places to see really good basketball programs go into this area and say there’s nothing like it. That’s really good for us to see that. As a matter of fact, a lot of people who see that say that they’re going to make sure that passion carries over to the football program. That’s one thing that gives us a major plus is going to a basketball game. And then all the people involved from basketball, soccer, baseball, volleyball coaches and staffs keep us engaged with our student athletes coming in here and us doing the same for them, it helps all of us. We have a tremendous amount of coaches and staff here who want to help us.”
On if it was a goal to find guys who could play right away:
“Every year you’re looking for as many players as you can find who can come in and play right away, but you never know which ones will. The main thing is speed. If a guy can run, we’re probably going to give him more opportunities to play and compete for a starting job. From my philosophy, I want some guys that can flat out run. It doesn’t matter what position, whether it’s running back or defensive lineman or offensive lineman. If he has speed, he can make plays in most cases.”
On if he felt like there were any voids that they didn’t fill with this recruiting class:
“No. I’m very pleased with the job our staff did. There might be a situation with one position that might come open, but we got fast guys at every position. It was fortunate that we had the numbers we did (in scholarships) so we could get two to three guys at every position. I think that’s turned up the heat for some of our (returning) guys in this offseason. Last year, we brought in one guy in the spring, this year we brought in four. I think that just helps us be better prepared for the upcoming season.”
“I think it’s an exciting time for Kansas fans. We’re going to continue to move forward. I know late in the year (last year) we didn’t win many football games, but we definitely made progress. We will continue to do that and see that. I feel very confident in that. I’m still very excited to be the football coach at the University of Kansas. I want people to get engaged and be a part of this and be ready to go as we take each and every step to move this program forward.”