While the 2010 season wasn't a roaring success on the field Turner Gill and his staff did take a major step toward the future by putting together a top 30 recruiting class of the field. The Jayhawks addressed every position on the field with multiple players from all over the country and the targets all had one thing in common, speed and athleticism. Gill has talked about that as a staple to building his program from the moment he arrived.
That trend continues as Kansas begins to address the 2012 class with the Jayhawks first commitment in Florida cornerback Daniel Gray.
Gray, a senior-to-be, has been timed as fast as 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash and consistently runs in the 4.4 range. He chose KU over offers from Texas Tech and Florida International. Nearby programs Miami and Florida State also showed serious interest in the physical defensive back.
The quote from a KUSports.com article sums up exactly the type of player that the Kansas staff has looked for. A player with speed, a player that can use his speed to be a difference maker and a player that was on the radar of some name schools. It's a different approach from the Mark Mangino years which seemed to target best available and so called "football" players.
Strategy aside 2012 will most certainly have a different look from the class a year ago primarily due to numbers. Kansas is a very young team and they are coming off of a very large class. The number of available scholarships takes a significant step back in 2012 to somewhere in the neighborhood of 12-14. That number is already reduced by an outstanding grayshirt offer and has the potential to drop further due to some higher profile walk ons that have made their way into the program with the hopes of earning a scholarship.
What that means for Gill and Kansas is that they are going to be selective, they are going to be tight on spots and every player needs to be someone that they feel can fit in and develop into a player. In a class of 27 there is room for error. In a class of 12-14 that luxury isn't necessarily there, miss on too many and you're looking at a young team with a high likelihood of a dip in success at some point down the line.
That's something that makes a player with speed even more attractive. An athlete like Gray or someone like him has the ability to find the field and contribute in multiple ways. Players like Gray will be a priority, as will players that can fill spots on the offensive and defensive line.
2011 was a great year for Turner Gill on the recruiting trail. After scraping together what he could in a short turnaround following his hire he was able to fill a lot of critical needs for the future with his first full class. 2012 will challenge him in a different way, especially as the performance on the field becomes even more important as that initial recruiting honeymoon period begins to fade.