Rock Chalk Weekly: Speeding Into a New Era of Kansas Football
Written by Katy Lonergan & Trae Green, Kansas Athletic Communications
It’s been exactly four months and three days since the Kansas football program was catapulted in a resurgent direction of energy and speed under first-year head coach David Beaty.
It’s not that Beaty didn’t enjoy the first 108 days of his tenure at the helm. Spanning Dec. 5, 2014, up until March 23 of the current year, Beaty gladly and intimately scoured the state of Kansas meeting and shaking the hand of every possible supporter of the program’s new regime.
However, on the 24th day of March, Beaty, armed with a staff comprised of seven new and two returning assistant coaches, set out to do what they had been brought in to accomplish – develop football players.
“It’s been a long time coming since Dec. 5, I believe it was,” Beaty said at the conclusion of the first workout. “I’ve gotten to do a lot of fun things since I got this job, but today (March 24th) was by far the most fun.”
Throughout his short time leading the team, Beaty never promised end results every time he stepped in front of a camera or spoke to an assembly of people. He did, however, promise to anyone who would listen a renewed sense of urgency and a fast-paced assault in between the hashes. Beaty’s biggest guarantee of what his stamp on the program will look like is that all things, no matter how big or small, would be earned.
Those promises were fulfilled the second the Jayhawks stepped foot on the artificial turf implanted on the practice fields adjacent to Memorial Stadium wearing just helmets due to NCAA rules.
From the get-go it was clear that it was acceptable to make a mistake – as long as the error was made going full-fledge with maximum energy exerted.
“Effort is a minimum expectation,” Beaty said. “We tell the team we’re not going to spend a lot of time on effort because we expect that every day. That’s something that when you look across the world, it applies. It’s the guys that produce that are winners and we’re trying to find the production guys. That’s what we’re working on.”
The exuberant energy of the first spring practice couldn’t even be watered down by several isolated thunderstorms that produced heavy downpours, dime-sized hail and even a lightning delay.
“Tempo is very important to us,” Beaty said. “It’s a characteristic we’re going to possess on offense and defense. We ran 94 plays in 44 minutes which – man, for the first day – that’s pretty good.”
Hearing Beaty preach tempo to his players should not come as any surprise to those who have followed him during his first couple of months on the job. It has been one non-stop blur of excitement and, more importantly, hard work.
He accepted the position of head football coach at Kansas on a Friday and immediately went to work, hitting the pavement in an effort to attract talented recruits to choose becoming a Jayhawk as part of their future plans. The next couple of weeks leading up to the holidays were a bit of a blur as he ended up meeting and greeting players from across the country, adding seven junior college players to the KU roster in the December signing period.
“We are really pleased with all of the guys we’re able to have join our program,” said Beaty in December. “I said when I came here that we want to build our program on high school players and that is certainly the long-term vision. We have addressed some of our immediate needs. Having the opportunity to get these guys on campus in January is crucial for our team moving forward.”
It wasn’t just recruiting that was on Beaty’s plate. He was also meticulously putting together his staff, both on-the-field coaches and all of the support staff that is instrumental in making a program run smoothly. In the end, the Garland, Texas, native was able to compile a top-notch group of people with a wealth of experience and a zest for coaching football.
“One of the things I have been able to tell people is you’re going to have a hard time finding a place that has more energy, enthusiasm and passion than we have and better coaches on their staff,” said Beaty. “There’s a lot of great coaches in the country, but I really like our staff.”
In addition to that, he took precious time out of his hectic schedule to make the media rounds, getting to know the people who will cover the Jayhawk program in the most intimate way, including an entire day spent in Kansas City where he attended a luncheon with fans at 610 Sports Radio and did in-studio interviews at four television stations.
Following a brief holiday break with his family, Beaty was right back at it, scouring the country for not just the best players, but the right players to join his program. It was an exciting day for the Kansas football program on the first Wednesday in February as KU’s new head coach announced his first complete signing class.
“I think we improved our overall team profile,” said Beaty of his haul of 24 total players, including eight who arrived on campus in January. “We said we needed to improve our profile from a length perspective, as well as a speed perspective because in this league it’s a long, fast league now. We know that we have to be able to recruit to that in order to be able to compete. We felt like we did a good job of staying in line with that philosophy.
“The other thing that I was very proud of us for us that we found the right guys. I talked earlier about finding men that kind of fit the ‘Kansas’ way. As we went through this process, I think the thing I’m most proud of is that our coaches did not let athletic ability get in the way of just taking a guy because he’s that good. He had to be good and he had to be a Kansas guy. He had to be a guy that fit what we were looking for. If he didn’t, we had to be courageous enough to turn the page.”
With his first signing day in the rearview mirror and the majority of his staff in place, Beaty finally had the opportunity to get settled in Lawrence, but he still kept his motor running at a high pace as he took the lead role in KU’s Football in February events. With visits with Jayhawk fans in Hays, Hutchinson, Topeka, Kansas City and Wichita in addition to a Football Fan Fest in Lawrence, the month of February proved to be instrumental in the Jayhawk staff getting deeply immersed within the KU community.
“I think sharing the vision with them (the fans) is very important,” said Beaty at his stop in Kansas City. “And understanding also that we’re here to earn their support. That’s kind of the thing that we’re standing on right now, which is: What’s going to make us different? Once we lay the vision out and we talk to them about the blueprint and how we plan on doing it, it’s a big deal for us to ask them to try and partner with us, to make it their program and something they can be proud of.
“We’ve gotten to go out in this great state and meet a lot of alums and a lot of high school coaches, and man, they have been unbelievably supportive. It’s been a lot of fun getting to know the people of this state, our fans, the stakeholders, the players of this state and the high school coaches of this state. That’s been a really big success we think. We’re really excited about that.”
While Beaty and the staff were meeting and greeting with KU fans and trying to earn their support, the Jayhawk players were working steadfastly in the weight room with director of football strength and conditioning, Je’Ney Jackson. Upon kicking off spring practice, Beaty was more than pleased with Jackson and his staff’s efforts to have the KU players physically prepared for what was ahead of them.
“There has been some ‘earning it’ going on from our players,” Beaty said. “I want to give a shout out to coach Je’Ney Jackson, and what he’s done to our guys. His staff did a tremendous job getting our guys ready to go for spring ball. We, as coaches, are all pleased with that for sure. All of those guys have done a really good job preparing our guys to get to this day. That was a lot of fun to see that come to fruition.”
As March rolled in, the football staff put the finishing touches on the installation plan for KU’s 15 spring practices. Thorough details were put in place for how practices would be run and when March 24 finally came up on the calendar, it was officially the start of the David Beaty-era for Kansas football on the field.
“Our goals are really simple,” Beaty said of his approach to his first spring football season. “It’s for each and every man in there to get a little bit better every day. Just a little bit better every day.
“We’re going to take it one step at a time. This whole thing is a process we’ve been talking about our goals and what we want to accomplish is about our hard work every day on and off of the field in everything we do. I’ve been proud of them because they’ve been buying into that. We’ve worked really hard to eliminate entitlement in our program. They know that they’re entitled to nothing. They have to earn everything. They have bought in to that and the quicker that we all understand that the better off we’ll be and once again we as coaches are trying to deal in reality which is what we see. Not what we’ve heard, but what we see them doing in our system.”
With six spring practices now complete, Beaty and his staff have eight more sessions left to continue installing their concepts on offense, defense and special teams before showing Jayhawk fans the fruits of their labor at the annual Kansas football Spring Game, which will be held Saturday, April 25 at 1 p.m., on Kivisto Field at Memorial Stadium.
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- Faces in the Crowd
- Bird’s Eye View
- Ryan Pidhaichuk Feature
- A Look Back
- Fuel Recipe of the Week
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