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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Vestal turns up volume on KU football staff

New Kansas University defensive backs coach Scott Vestal works on footwork with red-shirt freshman safety Tevin Shaw during a spring practice on March 9, 2013.

New Kansas University defensive backs coach Scott Vestal works on footwork with red-shirt freshman safety Tevin Shaw during a spring practice on March 9, 2013.

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When Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis promoted Scott Vestal into a role as a full-time assistant during the offseason, Weis knew he was turning up the volume.

“He is exactly what I thought he’d be,” Weis said. “He’s wired for sound.”

At times, when Vestal reached deep into his lungs and began belting out instructions as if a bullhorn were attached to his face, Weis hit him with verbal jabs.

“We can’t hear you,” Weis would joke.

There’s a reason that Vestal, who spent a season with Weis at Florida and also was a part of KU’s support staff in 2012, has been so comfortable flexing his vocal cords during his first season as the Jayhawks’ assistant defensive backs coach — confidence.

“I’ve got a great relationship with coach Weis,” Vestal said. “He’s a guy that, through two years of relationship-building with him and working with him and for him, I felt very good that if there was an opening on the staff, I’d be the right fit.”

That was exactly the scenario that unfolded last winter, when linebackers coach DeMontie Cross left for TCU. When he first heard Cross was leaving, Vestal, who served as KU’s assistant director of football operations in 2012, said he felt good about his chances of a promotion. A few days later, the feeling was validated, and, as soon as it was, one thought raced through his mind.

“To be really honest, it felt natural,” Vestal said. “I was very, very pleased, but my first thought was, ‘I gotta make a lot of recruiting calls. It’s time to roll up the sleeves.’”

In elevating his status with the Jayhawks to full-time assistant, Vestal not only can have a more hands-on approach during practices and games but also will be counted on to use his energy on the recruiting trail.

“Knowledgeable, student, well-received by the players, tough, energetic, high-vibing when the time’s appropriate,” said Weis, listing Vestal’s top traits. “I think he has a chance to be really good. Don’t tell him that.”

Unlike most coaches who slide into new jobs, Vestal needed little time to adjust to his surroundings. Not only did the Jayhawks already know him, but they also appreciated the fact that he knew them as well.

“That’s invaluable,” Vestal said. “All these players, all these coaches ... they say you build trust and you earn faith. Well, the trust and faith is already there with the coaches and the players. I think that gives me an inherent advantage just because I know their strengths and weaknesses.”

That history is not lost on the players.

“He’s a great coach,” said red-shirt freshman cornerback Greg Allen. “I’ve been learning from him ever since last year, and he always points out the little things that really count. From last year to this year, he’s just really fit in, and it’s been an easy transition.”

Vestal’s coaching philosophy is simple and revolves around the idea that there are three types of mistakes players make.

The first is a physical mistake like a technique error, a missed tackle or something similar.

“That’s my fault,” Vestal said. “It’s my job to teach you.”

The second is a mental mistake like a blown assignment, a bad read or something similar.

“That is also my fault,” Vestal said. “If you don’t know what you’re supposed to do, that’s my fault.”

The final category has to do with effort, and Vestal is not about to take the blame for bad effort.

“The third one’s yours,” Vestal said. “That’s the one that’s unacceptable, and that’s the one where I’ll get upset.”

Mistakes happen, and Vestal’s defensive backs certainly made a few of them this offseason. But with his first fall camp now behind him and the 2013 season right around the corner, Vestal can’t help but feel thrilled about his new gig.

“I’m pumped,” he said. “Coach Weis gave me a shot that I won’t forget.”

Comments

Fortesque Beagleton 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Humbleness lacking, but seems like a good coach.

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hawk316 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Genuine humility is truly a beautiful quality, and the older I get the more I am learning that. But having confidence in one's ability does not necessarily equal a lack of humility. A great natural athlete, for example, can be very confident in his ability, but recognize that his ability is a gift from God ("every good and perfect gift is from above...") and is careful to give credit where credit is due.

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Brett McCabe 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Liked his three-part approach to coaching. You can't yell at kids all the time and get results but you also can't be a pushover. Sounds like a good balance of responsibility to me.

On another subject, I watched one of the clips from the programs they are running on Metro Sports and a comment from Reggie Mitchell about Darian Miller just stunned me. He said that Miller left KU without ever meeting Weis (doing my best Scooby Doo head shake right now). Would love to know more about that whole break-up and how they fixed it.

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jhox 10 months, 4 weeks ago

I heard that comment as well, and found it interesting. I always believed Weis was making an example of Miller, because of his talent, to show the other players that nobody was above the rules. Who knows what he did to get on Weis' bad side? Grades? Not attending class? A little weed maybe?

Regardless, I'm glad he's back as he is definitely very talented.

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texashawk10 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Miller was suspended for the Missouri game that year so there were already discipline issues with Miller under Gill.

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Jason Keller 10 months, 4 weeks ago

I can't wait to finally see some big scary looking defensive backs on this team. It sounds like all of them are 6 foot + and can run. People talk about having a pass rusher on the line. Forget that, give me 2 big corners who can press and play man coverage on anyone and I will be happy sending as many as it takes to put the QB on the ground.

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jhox 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Speaking of DB's, how about McDougald's performance last night for the Chiefs? I always believed his cover skills exceeded his tackling skills, but he made some very impressive tackles last night. I hope the Chiefs aren't stupid enough to cut him, because he's going to have a solid NFL career for someone.

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KGphoto 10 months, 4 weeks ago

McDougald's tackling is his strongest area. He's been nearly perfect so far, and he's bringing some pop. I didn't even know what his number was but recognized his tackling form. On all of his tackles, he just stonewalls the guy. Zero yards after contact.

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Rivethead 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Brandon Holloman is 5'10". He'll see lots of snaps. Hope that doesn't disappoint you.

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Jason Keller 10 months, 4 weeks ago

NOT gonna start. I believe you will see Kevin and Cassius get the nod when it's said and done. But no, not disappointed with Brandon's stature.

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Keith Hummel 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Being a defensive backs coach in the Big-12 has to be one of the most stressful and thankless jobs you could find, but it sounds like Vestal is doing a great job so far. We're gonna miss McDougald this year, but with that possible exception I think are better athletically at every single DB position.

8 days, 10 hours, 48 minutes, 27 seconds

letsgo #kufball

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Ron Prichard 10 months, 4 weeks ago

I think it's pretty safe to assume he is not coming back this year. You can read Matt's chat transcript from yesterday for more details.

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Jim Jackson 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Anyone else hoping Bolton plays this year? Even if he is not 100% until Mid-October, want that guy out there; our pass rush have been anemic for the past 4 seasons; we need him.

We can recruit another talented D End this year out of JUCO..

Thoughts?

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Rivethead 10 months, 4 weeks ago

I'm very far from saying "we need him". I have no idea what to expect from the 4-2-5 as far as pass rush goes. Goodman may be just fine. Hell Sendish may come from the NB spot and get the most sacks of anyone. Don't know yet. But we do know that Bolton's knee is 100% yet and it needs to be 110% before he sees the field. Rushing his recovery isn't fair to the kid.

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Keith Hummel 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Seems awfully risky. If the guy isn't 100% then he will be favoring the other knee, and the chances of him getting hurt again go up drastically it would seem. I hear what your saying about the pass rush but I'd rather have two good years out of Bolton than risk him really blowing out a knee. Plus, we're hearing very good things about Reynolds and Goodman. I personally think Ben Goodman is going to have a big year. He was really playing well at the end of last season and has, by all accounts, had a fantastic off-season. Might be the homer in me talking, but I think those two guys are going to surprise some folks.

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texashawk10 10 months, 4 weeks ago

If he's not healthy enough to contribute significantly, then don't play him. 2014 is the more important season anyway for the long term future of KU under Charlie Weis.

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clevelandjayhawker 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Are we behind in recruiting? We are at 7 for next year and seems like we have been there for a while.

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Rivethead 10 months, 4 weeks ago

I think most of our targets are in wait and see mode with us. Can't blame them.

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Keith Hummel 10 months, 4 weeks ago

There is a big recruiting announcement scheduled today from Peyton Newell (the kid from Hiawatha) at 3pm CST. Sounds it's between NU and KU. Most people expect him to choose NU, but I think KU is tugging at his heart and still has a real shot. It would be huge for KU Football if we got him.

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Chris Bailey 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Yeah I'm crossing my fingers he picks us. We gotta keep in state kids in state. Come on Peyton stay home! Stay with us!

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Brett McCabe 10 months, 4 weeks ago

I have a feeling that it will be another big JUCO class, though not as big as this one. This might mean more late commitments.

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Jim Stauffer 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Quick comment on Goodman. While he is not the fastest guy on the planet, I believe he has excellent technique for pass rushing. The comment on TV last night at the Vandy-Ole Miss game on the new guy, Nwengdhe (sp) and his pass rushing was interesting. They said when he learns to hit the lineman on one side or the other instead of just a straight on bull rush, he will be terrific.

Goodman does not have his size or speed but has better technique and does not stick to blockers. This will help him bring pressure to the QB.

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kj_hawk 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Is it just me or does Vestal look a lot like John Malkovich in that photo?

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BayPark 10 months, 4 weeks ago

How do so many of you know how this player or that player is going to play without ever having seen them play D-1 football? Not even the coaches know for certain how they will react on game day--even those who played some the year before. Rocky Long (SDSU head coach) made this point in yesterday's San Diego U-T, saying in so many words that, until he sees them playing in a real game, he doesn't really know how they're going to react and has to be prepared to make adjustments just for this reason.

Short, Hollomon, Johnson, Sendish, et al. may end up being good players, but chances are that not all of them are going to pan out.

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Brett McCabe 10 months, 4 weeks ago

I do think that with the JUCO guys you at least get a little better feel for what they might do on game day. Certainly it's a big step up from JC but for high school guys it's an enormous step up.

At the very least, I think that we'll be better in terms of quality depth this year. This could help a lot in close games and could help keep some of the massive blowouts down to more reasonable numbers.

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HAWKS1 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Peyton Newell is a Cornhusker, dang-it!

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