Thursday, January 20, 2011
KU raiding border states for recruiting surge
By ESPN.com staff
Rarely during the 2010 season did Kansas look like a team capable of competing at a level necessary for success in the Big 12.
That could be changing very soon.
The most important thing for Kansas to build on its 1-7 record in Big 12 play -- its only win coming at home in a 28-point, fourth-quarter comeback over Big 12 North fifth-place finisher Colorado -- was recruiting.
In his first full class Turner Gill has mounted a late surge to quietly put together a recruiting class solidly in the top half of the Big 12. Best of all, he's done it by robbing other Big 12 teams of top talents in their backyards.
That was especially evident on Tuesday, when the Jayhawks received a commitment from Anthony Pierson, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound running back that's been hailed as the best prospect in the St. Louis area.
Pierson, the nation's No. 27 running back, originally committed to Missouri before decommitting from the Tigers in October.
This comes just weeks after the Jayhawks swiped quarterback Brock Berglund, Colorado's top commit, from the Buffaloes territory. Berglund, a native of Highlands Ranch, Colo., was the highest-rated prospect in the state of Colorado.
Pierson, a native of East St. Louis, Ill., is the No. 4 prospect in Illinois.
Kansas also has a commitment from Darrian Miller, its top overall recruit and the nation's No. 18 running back. Miller was the first commit for Kansas' 2011 class back in March before decommitting in May and recommitting to the Jayhawks in October.
Miller and Berglund enrolled early at Kansas along with offensive lineman Dylan Admire and should be ready for spring practice.
What does it all mean immediately? Only development will tell. That's key for Gill and his coaching staff, obviously, as it is for the rest of the conference.
Miller and Pierson give Kansas seven running backs on its roster, one with what looks like a clear lead dog at running back in sophomore-to-be James Sims, the team's leading rusher in 2010.
But if there's one place that depth is most valuable, it's at running back.
"I saw the depth chart and looked things over before I decided to pick Kansas," Pierson told Rivals.com this week.
Berglund must beat out Jordan Webb and Quinn Mecham, who both made starts this year, to win any playing time, but he's got plenty of time in his career.
The results for Turner Gill on the field can wait. He still has another couple years before the pressure will build if he can't reach a bowl game. Results on the recruiting trail couldn't wait. He needed big-time commits to build his program around and needed them now.
With a late surge, it looks like he's getting them.