What a difference a recruiting class makes…
Now, it’s impossible to gauge how good this class is going to be, I mean, they just signed today. But this much I do know, after a solid calendar year into the Turner Gill era at Kansas, the man has delivered on his oft-repeated promise that he was going to recruit, recruit and recruit.
The man just hauled in the 33rd –best class in the country after going 3-9 and it wasn’t like that was a 3-9 with close losses by a young team. The losses were grotesque and it looked like at times KU was fielding an NAIA team that was supposed to be playing in Olathe but got lost on I-10, should’ve stopped at Haskell but decided that taking beatdowns at Memorial was more appropriate.
And of course, the boo-birds were out in full force, people were calling for Turner’s head, “Fire Him!” a lot of fans were crying… Yeah, let’s fire the head football coach in the middle of his first season while the The King of Mt. Oread aka The Lew was plotting his escape…
“If a basketball ticket gets sold in the parking lot of Allen Fieldhouse, I want in…”
But thankfully, or mercifully, depending on how you want to look at it, the KU football team forged ahead, took beating after beating and the season finally ended. All the while, Turner and his staff stayed pretty melancholy throughout. They knew the team they inherited had zero talent. Let’s say that together – ZERO talent. One more time for the kids in the back – ZERO TALENT.
Oh, it was ugly. But much to his credit, Turner and his staff, they hung in there. There really wasn’t any public graveling, Turner never made any excuses that Mangino and the previous regime spent more time scouting buffet wait times than actual Division One Talent. Yet, for a team that was as bad as KU was, when the season ended, T-Gill and his staff locked themselves in the KU Football Offices, popped in some Big Daddy Kane and rallied around the theme song of the 2011 recruiting class…
I Get the Job Done.
The T-Gill Crew went to work. They raided Texas, they went to Cali, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, it didn’t matter. If a kid could run, preferably fast, is strong, and can make plays – you need to be a Jayhawk.
And the funny thing is, even after a 3-9 season, kids wanted to be Jayhawks. Take the two kids out of Beaumont, Texas. Now, I live here, and I had the chance to interview the kids last Saturday, so I asked them, straight up, Why Kansas?
They both want to be a part of something special, they want to play right away, and they want to win. Kansas and Coach Gill offered them that. These are Texas kids. These are kids who grew up in the backyard of Texas A&M, were being recruited by the Aggies, but when Buddy Wyatt joined T-Gill, Goodman and Garrett jumped on the KU Train. What was wrong with the defense I asked them… “No speed” said Garrett, who runs a 4.5 40 and at 6-2, 208, expects to be around 220-225 by the fall and playing outside LB. Goodman, a hell of a nice kid with a great sense of humor, his answer was classic as to what plagued the defensive ends…
“They just flat out couldn’t get to the quarterback…”
At 6-4, 240 already, he really doesn’t need to gain much weight and he said his sole responsibility when he arrives in Lawrence? Sack the quarterback.
Both want to be defensive All-Americans and said they expect KU to be back in a BCS Bowl… Next Year.
Oh, to be young and naïve. But here’s the point, these kids were serious. This wasn’t lip service. These young men, who play in one of the most difficult classes of high school football – in the country – 5A football in Texas, for a perennial 5A contender, Westbrook (Christine Michael, A&M’s starting tailback is a Westbrook grad) already have a swagger. And no, it’s not a braggadocios kind of entitlement, it’s an attitude that these kinds of players are just that – football players.
“We’re bringing that Southeast Texas style to Lawrence,” said Goodman.
“We do things a little bit different in Texas, because after we hit you, we’re going to talk to you afterwards,” said Garrett, who had over 300 – that’s not a misprint – tackles over the last two seasons.
I was ready to hit somebody after I got done talking to these kids. And they’re good kids too. I’m 29, and by no means am I a Sir, but both insisted on calling me Sir even after I told them they were making me feel old and to just call me Fred. They called me Sir anyways. That’s what I’m talking about.
I can’t speak for the rest of this class, but after listening to T-Gill’s presser today, 24 of the 27 signees were in the playoffs and 14 of those 24 played in a state championship game. These kids are winners. And hey, that’s what Mike Singletary wanted. Seriously, this crop looks very promising, and yes, all the haters can say, “you don’t win Big 12 Championships on paper,” and that’s true. But if the rest of this class is anything like Garrett and Goodman..? KU Football will be back in a very big way…
Of course, with the talent in place, the spotlight jumps to the coaching… But that’s a column for another day.