Officially, Wednesday was National Signing Day. But the fanfare and excitement surrounding the Kansas University football program’s most recent recruiting haul spilled over into Thursday and doesn’t figure to stop there.
One day after unveiling a 2011 class that included 27 players from 11 states, coast-to-coast, several members of the class talked about what impressed them most about the first full recruiting class brought to Kansas by head coach Turner Gill.
“I am incredibly impressed with the raw talent that coach Gill brought in with this class,” said offensive lineman Luke Luhrsen, of Wheaton (Ill.) Warrenville South High. “(There’s) also some really great speed (on) offense and defense. A lot of people were saying that committing to KU was a leap of faith because of the 2010 season (in which KU finished 3-9), but I think it was easy to put faith in such an outstanding coaching staff. It really is looking like a good class.”
While the speed Luhrsen talked about was the theme of the class for Gill and his coaching staff — “The main thing is speed,” Gill said. “I want some guys that can flat-out run.” — the 6-foot-5, 265-pound lineman’s belief in the coaches seemed to be a common theme for most of the athletes who inked with the Jayhawks.
Jon Kirby, who covers KU recruiting for Rivals.com, said he recognized that very thing while talking with parents throughout the past several months.
“A big thing that plays in here is Turner Gill,” Kirby said. “When people get to know Turner Gill, who he is, what he stands for, they feel comfortable handing their sons off to someone like Turner Gill, who they believe will raise their son right. When you’re about to send your son hours away to go to school, a lot of people don’t understand that it’s not just the school or what’s on the helmet that sells a program, but it’s also who your son is gonna play for.”
Kirby continued: “Playing time might be a very small factor in it, but the fact of the matter is, it’s about relationships and trust and (kids) believing in (the coaches) recruiting them. You know, there are a lot of schools that can offer playing time.”
That fact jumped out right away to place kicker Alex Mueller, of Grapevine, Texas, who said he was impressed by the way so many talented prospects from all over the country had bonded before even becoming teammates at Kansas.
“(What impressed me the most was) the amount of talent that is coming in, and how all the guys are wanting to become a family,” Mueller said. “A few guys have messaged me on Facebook already, and I got to talk to a few on the recruiting trip. It will be a great group of guys.”
This was the idea Gill had in mind when he took over at Kansas two Decembers ago. He said as much in his introductory speech: Recruit. Recruit. Recruit. Gill has done that now, and will continue to do it in the future. Now that he has revealed his method of choice — tapping speed, character and the best fit for Kansas above all else — Gill can shift his focus back to preparing to for his second season.
“I think it’s an exciting time for Kansas,” Gill said. “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.”
Consider the prospects in the Class of 2011 on board.
Said Killeen, Texas, quarterback Michael Cummings: “It seems like he brought in a lot of great talent from around the country and each player will make their mark on the program in one way or another.”