Sunday, January 23, 2011

KU coach Turner Gill thrilled for Packers RB James Starks



Morry Gash/AP Photo

Green Bay running backs James Starks (44) and Quinn Johnson take part in practice Friday in Green Bay, Wis. Starks, a former player at Buffalo under Turner Gill, will take the field when the Packers face the Bears today in Chicago.

Most Sundays, Kansas University football coach Turner Gill chooses to spend his time recruiting and with family, not always in that order.

Today, though, when the NFL’s conference championship games begin at 2 p.m., Gill will attempt to squeeze one more thing into his day. The reason? One of Gill’s former players, running back James Starks, figures to play some kind of role in determining whether Green Bay, the sixth seed in the NFC, will advance to its first Super Bowl since 1997.

Starks, a 6-foot-2, 218-pound rookie from the University of Buffalo, has taken the long road to his current status as a starter on an NFL club making a deep run in the playoffs. He missed his senior season at Buffalo because of a shoulder injury and sat out the first 12 weeks of this season with a leg injury. Through the waiting, Gill kept in contact with Starks and remained convinced that his former running back would make some noise in the NFL.

“I just knew he needed an opportunity,” Gill said. “No. 1, he’s competitive. No. 2, he has God-given ability, he can run. He has great size, he has toughness, and he thrives on being the best.”

Already at Buffalo when Gill arrived, Starks spent his first year of college playing cornerback. When Gill took over, he met with his players and asked them where they’d like to play. He did the same thing at Kansas. Starks’ answer helped shape his future.

“He said, ‘I want to play on the offensive side; I played quarterback in high school,’” Gill recalled. “So we looked at his tape, and I told him, ‘You’re definitely gonna play on offense, and we’re gonna start you at quarterback. When you come into spring ball, we’ll see what happens.’ After about three days, I realized he wasn’t quite the quarterback, but he could definitely run the football. So we switched him to running back, and I guess the rest is history.”

Starks finished his college career with 3,140 yards and 40 touchdowns, including back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons as a sophomore and junior.

In Green Bay’s opening-round victory against Philadelphia two weeks ago, Starks carried the ball 23 times for 123 yards and also caught two passes for nine yards. Starks, a sixth-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, followed that up with 66 yards on 25 carries in last week’s 48-21 pasting of top-seeded Atlanta. The rookie running back had a huge smile plastered on his face throughout most of both games, even after being popped on a couple of occasions. Gill was not surprised.

“That’s him,” he said. “No matter what’s going on. No matter whether you’re talking to him about football, academics, his family, whatever’s going on, he’s gonna have that little smile. That’s his personality. It doesn’t mean that he’s not tough, though. I can tell you that. He can turn it on and turn it off, and that’s just the personality of James Starks.”

Green Bay will play at 2 p.m. today at No. 2 seed Chicago. In the AFC championship game, No. 2 Pittsburgh will play host to No. 6 New York at 5:30 p.m.


ahpersecoachingexperience 8 years, 10 months ago


On a tait article! What's up with that?!?!!?!?

I'll save the day for ya because dude doesn't play if there are not injuries and the way Rogers and those receivers stretch the field even I could rush for hundreds of yards.

tical523 8 years, 10 months ago

Seriously man, it is just weird how much you post. The negativity of the posts are not that surprising I guess, because there are people who just love to stir the pot and try to annoy people, but the amount of time and number of posts you write is just kind of weird. I hope your mom does not read the site and figure out who you are because she would probably try to have a real heart-to-heart with you.

ahpersecoachingexperience 8 years, 10 months ago

if you really want me to get the ball rolling i'll say dude from buffalo is playing rb in the nfl while jake sharp is playing arena league in a tin shed north of wichita.

Michael Maris 8 years, 10 months ago

Maybe, Tait is getting tired of your verbal antics as well! Perhaps, Tait thought he would show you that Gill has what it takes to coach players up to become NFL Caliber Players.

Since, you seem to be such a leader for the '' We Hate Turner Gill Club ''. Gill took a player that was playing a position that the player didn't prefer to play, and give that player a chance to prove his true football value to the Buffalo Bull's football team.

Is every KU Football Player going to end up with a James Starks ending? No, they are not. But, they will end up with a much more positive story than it appears your life has ended up with.

ahpersecoachingexperience 8 years, 10 months ago

or maybe just maybe the kid could of ended up the next deion sanders is gill didn't move him

ahpersecoachingexperience 8 years, 10 months ago

No actually this article is one point for the supporters. The ones that actually knew what they were talking about when gill got hired would mention a top rb getting injured. And that injury was a huge part of his disappointing last season at buffalo.

You may have won this one homers but I'll be back (exit failed smoke bomb disappearing act. Smoke clears. Runs to nearest window to escape)

Dale Kroening 8 years, 10 months ago

The verbal from Reynolds moves our ranking for this class at #30 and coach Gill isnt done yet. Keep it up coach and staff !!!!!!

100 8 years, 10 months ago

Welcome Michael Reynolds!!!!!!

This DE has some wheels, take a look at that tape!!!!

Add to that he's 6'4" who turned down TCU & OSU!!!!

30th nationally & moving up, still another 3 or so late multiple star verbals coming boys (Pierson's friends, two are 3 stars, one is a 4, all are blazing fast)....

Keep bringin 'em in Coach Gill!!!!!!!

DevilHawk 8 years, 10 months ago


Seriously, that Shiver article/interview with Pierson ended up being fake. I shared that information as soon as it was revealed to be the situation.

100 8 years, 10 months ago


Wasn't quoting that from you. Appreciating your honesty though.

Pierson in fact does have three defensive studs (all friends) he's trying to bring along to Lawrence. If you originally got that from a Rivals story there's probably good reason it was reported.

Looks like Gill's boy Starks will be playing in the Super Bowl!

Keep bringin 'em in Coach Gill!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DevilHawk 8 years, 10 months ago


However, I first saw the information mentioned on RCT as a possibility. RCT cited an article on The Shiver.

Less than one day later, however, the article was pulled down and a poster at RCT cited an interview with Jon Kirby on Rivals. The Kirby interview supposedly specifically stated to the contrary.

I'm not a Rivals subscriber, so that's where it ends in my view until something else occurs to show otherwise.

DevilHawk 8 years, 10 months ago

We have another commitment on the day: Javonte Daniel, 3* DE.;_ylt=AmaaXRwOVbizEyD.DPKDGEbBsJB4

This staff certainly seems to be doing something right when recruits visit.

troutsee 8 years, 10 months ago

This is a very good recruiting class with a few more yet to commit. Coach Gill and staff have lived up to their reputation as excellent recruiters. As our W's mount, so will our recruiting. Congratulation coaches and thanks for all of your hard work.

Chris Bruning 8 years, 10 months ago

great job football coaches.....program on the rise

slowplay 8 years, 10 months ago

As a life long Packer's fan, I'm glad to see Starks succeed. That said, does anyone have any advice on where a Packer fan should watch the Super Bowl in Lawrence? There's usually 1 good "Packer bar" in most cities.

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