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Tuesday, July 13, 2010
No breaks for Turner Gill

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Turner Gill already has a difficult task ahead of him, trying to rebuild a program at Kansas from a team that lost its three best players from a 5-7 team in 2009 in quarterback Todd Reesing and receivers Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier.

Those three, along with coach Mark Mangino, saw one of the highest moments in program history, winning the Orange Bowl to cap a 12-1 2007 season. But it also saw one of its lows, a seven-game losing streak to close 2009, capped by Mangino's contract being bought out by the school.

The road back for Gill wasn't made easier this spring, when his two best defenders, linebacker Drew Dudley and defensive end Jake Laptad, had to be held out of contact because of shoulder injuries.

Now, his job's gotten tougher.

The offensive line brought back all five starters from a season ago and was expected to be one of the positions of strength for the Jayhawks. But they'll have to do it without junior tackle Jeff Spikes, who injured his Achilles tendon and will miss the entire 2010 season, according to the Lawrence-Journal World. Spikes started 23 games over the past two seasons -- 10 last season -- and earned third-team All-American status in the 2009 preseason from pundit Phil Steele.

This comes a week after another offensive line starter, tackle Brad Thorson, suffered a broken foot. He's expected to be back for the start of fall camp on Aug. 3., but we'll see how much contact he'll be able to take part in when preseason camp begins.

The good news for Spikes is he'll likely be granted a medical redshirt, and come back next season with two more years of eligibility remaining.

Gill knows how to rebuild, eventually winning a MAC title over No. 12 Ball State in 2008 at Buffalo in his third season at a school that won six games in four seasons before his arrival.

He'll face another tough rebuilding project at Kansas in a much tougher league. He's got a mild quarterback controversy led by Kale Pick and his 2009 leading rusher, Toben Opurum, didn't show up on the post-spring depth chart after battling injuries throughout the spring.

Spikes injury assures the rebuilding job won't get any easier for Gill.