Busters football adjusting to new staff; Miller excited about recruits
By ADAM HOLT
Although many of the faces are the same, there's still some adjustments to be made as the Garden City Community College football team finishes its first week of spring practice under new head coach Matt Miller.
"Believe me, we run it like a Division-I program, like coach (Bill) Synder runs his program at Kansas State," Miller said. "There's a lot of discipline, we ask a lot of our players."
There are different ways of doing things, and new systems to learn, especially on defense, with Jeff Kelly and Joe Gordon coordinating the run and pass defenses, respectively.
When Gordon was first visiting with fellow defensive coaches Kelly and Lou West, the three exchanged ideas and concepts, as far as what schemes the Broncbuster defense would use.
Gordon's previous job was as a graduate assistant at NCAA Division-III Mississippi College, where he worked under defensive coordinator Chad Walker. Walker worked with current Alabama head coach Nick Saban when Saban coached at LSU and for the Miami Dolphins. Gordon learned a lot about running a 3-4 defense under Walker, and the Busters will incorporate some of that into their defense.
"We're going to run a hybrid," Gordon said. "We'll line up in a four-man front primarily. But we will do some things in certain game-planning situations where we'll introduce three linemen."
A lot of what the coaches want to instill in the spring is simply the foundation of how the program will run. And so far, so good.
"It's good. We're doing well," Kelly said. "Our kids are adapting to the new changes, as far as coaches. They're really high on us, they're buying in. They're holding each other accountable more than I've seen since I've been here."
New additions boost returners
Miller's first recruiting class features plenty of players from the eastern part of the state, which has traditionally been a rarity at GCCC. But before talking about the incoming additions to the team, Miller made sure to note his excitement about some of the returning players.
Miller mentioned Dontavious Blair, a 6-foot-7 offensive lineman who started some games as a freshman in the fall, as a key player. Blair will play left tackle next season, and may have played more last season if not for the rules about how many out-of-state players can be active for a game.
Miller also said he's liked what he's seen from linebacker D'Vonta Derricot, who was defensive MVP in the Buster's Mississippi Bowl win in December.
GCCC added a few transfers at semester as well, including cornerback Wonderful Terry, who played at Dodge City last season, and running back Mike Gerst, who played at the Ivy League's Columbia University (N.Y.)
The Busters also have more than 40 freshman in their incoming class.
With just Jake Curran and Aaryn Sharp returning at quarterback, GCCC has four more players coming in to join the quarterback battle. That dual-threat group includes Akeem Jones of Carol City High School in Florida, Patrick Hoard of North Kansas City, Mo., Jerome Gilkey III from Memphis, Tenn., and Mikail Grace, from Wilcox County High School in Georgia. If Wilcox County sounds familiar, it's where former Buster Nick Marshall attended high school, and Grace, in fact, is Marshall's first cousin.
As far as how the position battle will work itself out in the fall, Miller said he's looking for consistency.
"I kind of joke around with my coaches, I'm just gonna roll out the football and see which one doesn't screw up, which one doesn't turn the ball over," Miller said.
Miller also cited Meade's Trevin Wiens and Ness City's Dalton Gantz, who de-committed from Butler, as among some of the freshmen he's excited to see.
Hill in high demand
It's not a bad time to be Tyreek Hill. The Buster running back was first-team all conference and an NJCAA All-American after a freshman season where he did a bit of everything, from running the ball to returning kicks — and that's attracting a lot of attention.
Miller said Hill's prospects after Garden City are looking good. Hill's seeing interest across the nation, from University of Southern California to Oklahoma State to defending national champion Alabama.
Hill, a Georgia native, who has said he'd like to play football in addition to running track, certainly helped himself by running a 10.28 in the 100-meter dash at the Southwestern Invite on March 14, a pretty absurd time for his first race of the season.
Miller was proud to say Hill hadn't been doing any additional training other than the GCCC offseason football program, and just showed up at the meet and ran. That 10.28 is still among the top 15 times in the nation this spring in all of collegiate track, from NCJAA to NCAA Division-I.
Hill was a medalist in the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the 2012 World Junior Championships.