University of Kansas

Turner Gill clicks with KU fans in Wichita

Making his first rounds as Kansas football coach, Turner Gill knew some of the topics KU fans want to hear about before the start of the season.

There was the old stuff.

"Beat Mizzou," KU fan Chase Marzolf said while awaiting Gill's appearance. "That's all any KU fan wants to hear."

But there were some new items to address too.

Gill, who made an appearance at a KU Alumni Association event at Larry Bud's Sports Bar & Grill on Thursday night, addressed Kansas' rivals, the Jayhawk family, recruiting in Wichita, the 2010 team, and an overall aggressive philosophy.

But his 20-minute speech started with the fans.

"I want to thank all the KU fans. This is just the beginning of something of a great journey that you will experience from 2010, hopefully I will be here for the next 10-15 years," Gill said as he was introduced.

He followed with the importance of recruiting in Kansas and the Wichita area. That included keeping the best players in the state — Justin Puthoff from Goddard signed with KU and two state champions, Blake Jablonski from Wichita Collegiate, and Josh Smith from Hutchinson, walked on to join the Jayhawks.

"I know we've got a lot of good football players here in Kansas and particularly in the Wichita area, I want you to know that our staff is going to try to get the all the best players in the state of Kansas," Gill said. "I'm not going to say we aren't going to go anywhere else, but we are going to start right here. We have to get the players from around here."

To the disappointment of some, Gill didn't cave in to the rivalry question. He named off Missouri, Kansas State and Nebraska, but wouldn't stamp his first season by just two or three wins.

"I understood the situation at Kansas of Missouri and K-State, but we're thinking about everybody," Gill said. "We're not going to be a two-win season. We're going to take care of business, but we have to take care of everyone."

One of the hottest topics for KU football is the replacement of Todd Reesing. Although he didn't give anything away, Gill did tease the crowd.

Gill named himself the starting quarterback in the Sept. 4 opener against North Dakota State... then said the competition between sophomore Kale Pick and redshirt freshman Jordan Webb remains open.

Gill's sense of humor seemed to give some fans a ray of hope in the post-Mark Mangino era.

"It's a different atmosphere from the years when Mangino was the coach," said Will Wohlford, who said he was a walk-on at KU when Terry Allen coached in the late 1990s. "It's got a different feel and I like it. He seems more encouraging to the players and the fans. It's a totally different feel."