The Right 'Guy' For the Job

Morriss anxious for new beginning in Waco (AP).

Kansas City, MO -- As evidenced by his 7-5 record at sanction-ridden Kentucky last season, first-year Baylor coach Guy Morriss knows all about getting his teams to overachieve. Inheriting a Baylor program that won just one of 32 Big 12 games since 1999 under departed coach Kevin Steele, Morriss will need his teams in Waco to do just that.

But he already has experience injecting life in a Wildcat program decimated by infractions, so Morriss will draw on those at his newest post.

"We have to put some accountability back into the program with our kids," said Morris, who led Kentucky to a five-game improvement last fall over its 2-9 finish in 2001. "Our numbers are down just like they were at Kentucky when we were under some sanctions. We've seen how to manage low numbers before. We have to do a good job of evaluating talent. We have to recruit better players. The similarities are pretty great."

Baylor is expected to have just 75 players available when training camp begins, which will force Morriss to make some alterations to his routine. Injuries are a concern, but at the same time he knows he has a football team to prepare for the rigors of a 12-game season.

"We have to come out of training camp healthy, so we're walking a fine line as far as what we can do with contact," Morriss said. "We're going to be walking a fine line there. We haven't set a specific goal for wins, because I don't particularly like doing that.

"We want to become a team, be competitive and be in the fourth quarter and be able to pull out some games. The first step in this whole process is to become competitive. We need to get off to a good start. I want this team to understand the good feeling of wins to get their confidence going."

Among the players that would like to start feeling better about the situation at Baylor are defensive end Khari Long and wide receiver Robert Quiroga, who made the trip to Kansas City with Morriss for Thursday's Big 12 Media Days.

Back from a stint with Baylor's nationally prominent track and field team, Quiroga would like to see the football team start competing for the accolades a track program is used to garnering.

"We believe we're very capable of winning in the Big 12," said Quiroga, who made 49 catches for 556 yards and one score last fall. "We're anxious to get things started for the upcoming season and get things going in the right direction. We've got a lot of expectations for each other and want to bring Baylor back to a winning program."

Team notes

Asked what his philosophies may be for recruiting the state of Texas and giving the program an injection of talent, Morriss said he won't back down from the big boys and would like to keep with recruiting four- and five-year players instead of gunning for a short fix.

"We have to go head-to-head with the big guys," Morris said. "We can't concede players because Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma have offered kids. We can't shy away from competing with those guys. I guess that's my hard headedness from being an offensive lineman.

"We have a hole or two we need to fill by junior college players, but I think you rebuild a program with high school seniors. In addition to bringing in more athleticism, character is going to be a big issue. It doesn't do you any good if the kids are in the stands on Saturday and not on the field."

High-profile Baylor recruit Dominique Zeigler of Killeen (Texas) Harker Heights was named MVP of last night's Texas High School All-Star Game.

"I think he could come in and give us some depth and possibly some minutes at a receiver spot. He's a great target and leaper. He's got great hands, can run and is really athletic."

(CN would like to thank The Nest Bar & Grill in Johnston for sponsoring our coverage from Kansas City. CN & The Nest would like to invite you to join us on Wednesday, August 27th for our 2003 preseason tailgate party. Stay tuned to CN and 1460-KXNO for more details)

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