TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas football players were introduced to their new head coach on Friday, one day before the program’s 15th and final practice — the spring game.

Lance Leipold, who arrived in Lawrence on Friday, met with the team after practice before speaking to the program’s signees later in the day. The three KU players who spoke to media after Saturday’s game shared their first impressions of the new KU coach.

“He’s ready to go, and that’s what I like,” said linebacker Nate Betts.

“He seems like a really great guy,” said tight end Mason Fairchild. “I feel like he’s going to be a really great fit for us. The way he spoke, I think it clicked with some of our guys. I’m excited to see where we’re going to go with him.”

“It was really good to meet coach Leipold,” said D-lineman Sam Burt. “He said a lot of great things yesterday when he met us. Excited to see what he’s like in action and once we get into the swing of things in the summer and in the fall. I like what he said, what he brought, and I think the guys on the team did, too. Excited to work with him and excited to keep going from there.”

Similarly, the Jayhawks were able to give a first impression to their new coach at Saturday’s spring game. The defense dominated Saturday’s contest, winning by 32 in the odd-scoring format.

It was the culmination of nearly two months without a permanent coach, following the departure of Les Miles in early March. The Jayhawks had proceeded with Emmett Jones as interim coach since then. Jones was allowed to continue to serve in his interim role through the spring game.

“It’s basically like it’s his first impression so you’ve got to put up a good resume,” said Fairchild. “There’s not really motivation [needed] to go out there and play. If you need motivation, I don’t know if you’re really in the right state of mind. But it just kind of adds that extra motivation to really perform and do your best because he’s watching. And that’s his first impression of who you are as a player.”

“It did affect us a little, but in a good way,” added Burt. “It was a little odd just having a new coach come in right before the spring game but it was good to meet him and it was good to see where his head was at, where he wants to take us. We really just laid it all out for these coaches and this group.”


And what’s the state of the program now?

“We just want to win,” Betts answered. “We want to get better. We want to grind. We want to do all we can to help KU, to help this thing get turned [around]. Whatever comes ahead of us, God put us there. So whatever happens happens.”

“The spirits are a lot better than you’d think,” Fairchild added. “We just want to stay focused and locked in and not really let outside things affect us. We love coach Jones and I know we’re going to love coach Leipold. Just staying locked into what you have right in front of you at this very moment was very important to us.”