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August 16, 2012When being assigned recruiting territories, tight ends coach Jeff Blasko had to smile when he was given the state of Hawaii. He got to visit the islands for the first time this spring to introduce himself to the area's high school coaches and players. Talk about a tough gig.
"Yeah, poor me," Blasko said with a smile.
It's the first time in recent years that Kansas has heavily recruited Hawaii. They have already offered several Hawaiian prospects and could get one or two to take official visits in the fall.
Generally the state produces 10-20 DI prospects a year, and it's an area that head coach Charlie Weis has had success at in the past. While he was at Notre Dame they landed future All-American linebacker Manti Te'o.
"We want to tap into the Polynesian community," Blasko said. "It's a hardworking group of people. They are tough guys and good football players. Coach Weis has had some success so we want to build a pipeline and move forward."
Since most prospects from that state have to get on a plane regardless of the location if they want to play college football away from home, the distance isn't much of a problem. The challenge is changing initial perception of the state of Kansas to recruits who grew up alongside beaches and the ocean.
Blasko said that he too was initially guilty of associating Kansas with the Wizard of Oz stereotypes at first. He quickly changed his opinion once he arrived in Lawrence.
"You find out this is a great place to live with a great environment, tradition and a beautiful campus," Blasko said. "It's easy to sell you just got to them here."
Blasko is also recruiting the California junior colleges. It's an area Kansas hit hard this past winter picking up recruits like quarterback Turner Baty, running back Taylor Cox and defensive tackle Jordan Tavai.
Right now, both Kansas coaches and recruits are focused mostly with preparing for their seasons. Still, Blasko says he utilizes Facebook to stay in contact with his recruits even during the busiest time of the year. Blasko says recruiting comes down to building relationships and work ethic.
"I am not one to go home and watch four episodes of Seinfeld," Blasko said. "If it's 9:00 at night then I believe you need to pick up the phone and make some phone calls."