UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 4, 2018
DAVID BEATY: Afternoon, y'all. How are y'all? I see you really well if you're close, but if you're far away...
Thanks for coming today. Excited to have you guys back on our campus. Some exciting things are going on with our football program. Happy to talk with you about them today.
A couple of opening remarks. We obviously hit the ground running. I thought Coach Woodfin and his staff did a terrific job this summer of getting our young men ready. We took the approach of everybody here, everybody here basically, having June to earn their right to be here in July. Then they earned their right to be here for the first day of camp. They keep earning that right to be here for the next one. They have to earn their right to get on that roster.
The object is a lot of competition, making sure that we surround our team with even better players and more players that will help us create a competition that's needed for a championship ballclub.
I thought Coach Woodfin did a terrific job. I want to take my hat off too him. Our staff did a terrific job. We worked from the day we walked off the field at Oklahoma State. We continue to do that now. We get the kids pretty much year-round, so it blends from summer to fall camp. Almost like we weren't going into something different. That was good.
Just one comment that if you were out at practice today, you saw a bunch of guys that might be wearing a red helmet. You might wonder why that is. I'll kind of clear that up for you.
We're very, very conscious of who our sickle cell kids are that possess a sickle cell trait. I was at Rice University a number of years ago when a young man named Dale Lloyd passed away on our field after a game we played on Florida State on a Sunday. He had the sickle cell trait. At that point in time the NCAA did not test, it was not mandatory for them to test for that.
We didn't know it. We watched Dale die right in our arms. It was an awful feeling, one that I'll never forget. I'll never forget the fact that his family from Houston, Texas, because I had the pleasure of recruiting him, a lot of people would go after certain things and different things. They wanted one thing out of that lawsuit, and it was to make sure that every NCAA athlete was tested for sickle cell. They got that accomplished, the NCAA.
Now every athlete is tested for sickle cell. We've learned so much about that. A lot of the deaths that are happening are unfortunately caused by that trait. Understanding what that means and how it's completely preventable if you know about it. I always said if I had the opportunity, we would honor that family by making sure we go over and above to make that awareness.
That's why we put them in red helmets, because I want our coaches to know who is what, so when they do start to struggle, we know that's a sign for a sickle cell kid that could be one that we can't turn back.
That's why they wear the red helmets. Not because they're on the first or second team or they didn't have a helmet that fit their big 'ol head. I wanted to be clear like that. Why are they wearing different color helmets? That's why we do that.
One of the last things I'll say before we get going, the focus for us is being a smart team. We believe a smart team is a hard team to beat. As we go back and look at the last three seasons, actually even more than that, we realize that there's an area that we can really improve on, which is being a smart team.
I say it all the time, that there are more games that are lost than won in this game. We have to do a really good job of putting our team in position to win games by making sure they're prepared for any and all situations. We can make a big jump in that area.
With have a bunch of new editions here, a lot of walk-on guys that have to earn their right to be here the next day. You probably saw a bunch of them out there today. Some are big. They come in all different kind of shapes. But we're happy to have them here. They've worked their butts off.
Some of them didn't make it. We had a couple that it wasn't just for them. Most of them did, which was good. They're going to earn it the next day, too.
We have a few guys I want to make sure we point out. Foster Dixson, a signee from last year, he went ahead and medicaled. He has a severe disc problem in his back. He actually came here with that. We thought he might be able to make it, but he didn't. He's going to be still here with us at the university, but he's medicaled.
Hunter Saulsbury is another guy that's medicaled.
Then my heart aches for this next guy, Flomo. Flomo was a kid that was about to be placed on scholarship for us, has been a guy we really needed. I mean, this guy might have had the biggest heart of anybody on this team.
We had to medical him because of a heart condition. Thank God we found it because one big hit with the condition he had could have killed him. It just stinks for that kid because he is such a good guy. He's worked his rear-end off.
But he's out there coaching. He's a student assistant for us. He works just as hard as he does playing. Feel sick for us, but for him as well. He has not changed the way he approaches it. If you get to talk to him today, you'll be pleasantly surprised about who he is, if you haven't got to speak to him.
Then Mazin Aql, he's a guy that has a condition with his foot. He had to retire. But he's also helping us coach out there, too.
We have a few guys that we're not going to have their services any more, but they're going to be a huge part of our team.
We had a kid that's leaving us, did a lot for this university, we love and care for dearly. He did not do anything wrong, but he felt like it would be better for him to move closer to him. Larry Hughes will not be here any more.
With that, let's open it up to questions.
Q. The offensive lineman from Cal, what can you tell us you're expecting from him?
DAVID BEATY: We got quite a few offensive linemen out there that are new faces. I think he's going to fall right in the same category. We're going to really take a good look at him over the next couple of weeks, seeing his skill set.
Over the first couple of days, it's pretty easy for guys to stand out if they're new. One of the things you learn over time is you don't put the cart before the horse with guys. Just because we look a certain way, doesn't mean... Sometimes they're fool's gold. We try not to put the cart before the horse.
But he has started 13 games in a Power 5 conference. So far so good. But we'll see. Just like Feder, just like (indiscernible), Adagio, all of those guys are guys that we have been pleasantly surprised really for the first couple days. They're all in good shape. They move well. They give a little bit of a different dimension with their body type.
It's one of those deals that if he earns it, I think he can be a big part of what we're doing. He certainly gives us some depth right off the bat. He's a talented guy, could push for a starting spot.
Then we have a 265-pound guy, another good looking guy. We got three tight ends right now that are 260 or bigger. Sosinski weighs 270 right now. Coming off basketball season, I think that's a big deal. That dude comes off of basketball season, he is as skinny as a road lizard. He's skinny. He worked his tail off. I think being with Bill and those guys really helped that guy a lot. His work ethic has been terrific, really has. Love watching him develop.
Q. With the offensive linemen who are new from San Mateo, and Rueben Lewis, are they all in the mix for playing this year?
DAVID BEATY: Oh, yeah. If you're eligible, you're in the mix. We have a lot of guys that are 'returning starters,' but we're trying to find the best five, then the next one, the next two, those type of deals.
The great thing about all of those new guys, it gives us some real competition. I think Alex coming to us from the University of Houston, that guy playing at such a high level, a lot of big games, that was a big get for us. I think his relationship with Coach Ricker went a long way because Coach Ricker was there with Coach Herman and those guys when they made that big run. I'm really enjoyed having him here. His leadership has been strong.
Q. Which of those guys will play center?
DAVID BEATY: Alex is in the mix. We got about eight guys snapping right now. As you know, they're all important. I don't know many teams that can survive with their third center, for sure. The second center, there's a reason why there's a first and a second most of the time, but there's definitely a reason why there's a first and a third.
We put a lot of emphasis on making sure that if something happens, we don't lose anything. We're trying to make sure our next best lineman, almost NFL approach, can do a lot of different things. He'll be in the mix. Toby will be in the mix, playing guard a bunch now. Joey Gilbertson will be in the mix at center. Developed well, weighs about 295 pounds now, which is good. Jack has been here for a while.
Then really any of the rest of those guys. Adagio has snapped, all those guys have snapped. We're snapping them, they're getting a few reps in practice.
Q. What would be the advantage in your mind of deciding on a first team quarterback sooner than in the past?
DAVID BEATY: I think there would be a huge advantage if you are not just doing it to do it. If you're doing it for a good reason, it would be a huge advantage. The good reason, because he clearly is the guy that's going to be the leader.
You do that based off what you see, not what you hope for. Hope, it doesn't carry you very far. We have to make sure that we see that the guy can take care of the ball, lead our football team. That's the big thing.
The good news is, it's shaking itself out pretty quick. We'll know here in the next couple weeks.
Q. What have you seen from your, I guess, two to three guys you're looking at for that position?
DAVID BEATY: Well, I've seen a renewed sense of competition between those three guys that I think is really, really good. I've seen a lot more of a student approach to the game because of that renewed sense of competition.
I think each one of them brings a little bit different strength to the table, which makes each one of them have to work hard to improve that area of the their game. That's the big thing that sticks out to me, they're all kind of forcing each other to get better in different areas, which gives us a chance.
I think they're all three talented guys. Those dudes up front are going to make a difference. Marquel leaves here and plays pretty daggum good. Why do you think that is? He had a good line in front of him. He didn't magically get better. I can tell you that. He was already a good player. He had a hard time staying on his feet. Our job is to get better up front.
I know this: When we had Johnny Manziel, we had five first-round draft picks in front of him. Baker had three really good players in front of him.
Make no mistake, you have a quarterback that has a good offensive line in front of him, that's why this guy sticks out to me so much. He did it with a good offensive line, I wouldn't say great.
Todd Reesing was as good as I've ever seen because he made things happen that I didn't think many could.
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, it was great. He opened camp with our guys. I think his message was terrific. Everything that we talked about in there is going to stay within the family. Very dynamic. Our guys really enjoyed the visit. I think you could just see the passion in his eyes and how much he cares about this game in particular.
As he left here, it was a very uplifting session. We're just excited for him to be here. We can see where the future is headed.
I'd be remiss if I didn't say how much I love and care for Dr. Sheahon Zenger. He did so much for us. Our kids feel that same way. But moving forward, we're excited that our guy that is in place now, Jeff, is the guy he is, because he brings a lot of stuff to the table we're excited about.
Q. He talked about removing obstacles for coaches. Have you had a conversation with him yet and identified some of those obstacles?
DAVID BEATY: He's been so good about understanding there's a time and place for those things. With him coming on on August 1st, he's kind of like me when I first took over: he's drinking from the firehose as well. There is obviously time and places for that.
Right now us getting into camp a day after he got here, he's been terrific about allowing us to do that. But we've spoke and sat down and visited about the things that were imminent at the time, the things we needed to visit about.
But just a little bit that we've touched on, there's no doubt in my mind that the obstacles will be removed for all of our programs. He just gets it. The thing I love about him, everything is player centered, all student-athlete centered. That's something we believe in, as well.
He's already started to show that with the decisions that he makes.
Q. Has he been out to either of your practices?
DAVID BEATY: He has not. He and I correspond each day. We talk a little bit. I talked to him early, early this morning, which I hope the guy's getting some rest. I know he had meetings, completely booked, until 4:00 this afternoon. He's hoping to get here for a walk-through this afternoon. But he's going to be around a lot, which is good. We welcome that.
Q. You talked about first Ben Goodman, talked to him, he came back. He said things had turned around. Could it be the same thing for Joe and Daniel this year? They probably had options to play professionally, leave here. Do you see the same sort of scenario with those guys, that they stuck with you, this could be a big year for them?
DAVID BEATY: Absolutely. And I do think it could be a great year for them, obviously barring injury and the things we all fear for guys. But those are two guys in addition to the Tyrone Millers of the world. There have been some guys that have been through a lot with us, they could have went somewhere else. A couple were grad transfers. They stuck with this program. It wasn't even a question. That never came into their mind, which tells me how much they love this place, they love this university.
The hard thing for both of those guys, both of them NFL-caliber guys. To me that would have been the toughest decision if I was them. I think both of them are very intelligent guys that understood their value could increase greatly by taking advantage of the senior year.
Just watching Daniel, looking at his growth right now, I have no doubt that it's going to improve his stock greatly, greatly. So I think it was a really good decision by him.
But forever grateful for that first group that was here and all these guys that have been here before.
Q. You mentioned a lot in the spring maybe the secondary progressed a lot. Do you have a handle on how that unit is shaking out?
DAVID BEATY: Man, I'm actually very, very excited about that group. Lot of new guys over there, lot of new corners, lot of new safeties. Just look at the roster and look at the depth chart. We've got options.
We've got guys, Ricky Thomas just showed up here from I think it was Blinn Junior College is where he went, if I'm not mistaken. But he's a play-making dude. I really like that kid. You could tell he loves football. He came from the bottom of the depth chart to he's hovering around the top already in two days. He's got some quickness, he's got some play-making ability, some natural things to him.
Hempstead, another guy that made a couple nice plays today, a couple of nice breakups. Elijah Jones, really long, good looking guy. Davon Ferguson has really shown up. McCullough has been terrific at the safety spot, good understanding.
I think we've got terrific competition back there. We haven't had that. We've been able to move Hasan around a little bit, let him kind of work at some nickel and some free. I mean, that's an area that I really still think we got a chance to be pretty good at. We got some guys that haven't played in the Big 12 back there that are new which is a learning curve.
For the most part I'm excited because there weren't bodies there before. I mean, you were two deep. Somebody got hurt, you were shifting. Now we got a bunch of folks out there that are able to play, which is good.
Enjoy Saturday, looks like a good golf day. Hit it and have fun.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports