If there is any coach in the country that knows how to get a program rolling, it’s Kansas State Football coach Bill Snyder.
The Wildcats were one of the worst programs in the country before Snyder came along and will probably drop back down to that status as soon as he leaves. But, with Snyder in place, the Wildcats can be dangerous.
We will find out in the third week if the Wildcats are dangerous or not when they face off with an outstanding Auburn team on a Thursday night, September 18th.
Kansas State was pretty close last season. They went 8-5, but all the losses were close games.
Football is still won and lost in the trenches, but it’s going to be squarely on the shoulders of Jake Waters (6-1,210) if the Wildcats are going to have a big season in 2014.
Waters was one of the highest rated JC Quarterbacks in the nation in 2013. He came in last season and threw for 2,469 yards and 18 TDs. Waters wasn’t totally smooth in his transition to D1 football but he did get better as the year progressed.
His best game was in a loss against Oklahoma when he threw for 348 yards.
Waters is back for his senior season and with a year’s experience under his belt should be much improved. He’s got a decent arm and is mobile enough but the Wildcats will need to protect him at all costs in 2014.
The biggest reason that Waters must be protected is that depth is a major problem for KState at the Quarterback position. Last year’s back up, Daniel Sams has transferred to McNeese State.
Last year’s 3rd team guy, Joe Hubener (6-4, 205) should battle it out with redshirt freshman Jesse Ertz (6-4, 200) for the back up role. Hubener was born to be a Wildcat as both of his parents graduated from KSU. He may have the stronger arm between the 2 back ups.
Ertz was one of the top QBs to ever come out of the state of Iowa breaking the state record for TD passes with 98 and is 5th all time in passing yardage. Ertz appeared to be the leader for the job in the Spring Game, but there is still plenty of time before the first game.
Taylor Laird (6-4, 230) was a late addition to the 2014 recruiting class when they found out that Daniel Sams was transferring. He is a JC transfer that has 4 years eligibility remaining after receiving a medical redshirt last season. Snyder doesn’t sit on his hands like some coaches do.
Running Back could be a huge problem for the Wildcats. Leading rusher John Hubert went over a thousand yards a year ago, but he was a senior. Daniel Sams was the next top runner and he is also gone. Waters rushed for 312 yards and was next on the rushing leader list and the fourth guy, Robert Rose, only ran for 104 yards and he was also a senior.
In the Spring Game, Charles Jones (5-10, 200) ran with the first team. Jones did not play at all last season after redshirting in 2012. He was a former hotshot recruit out of Mandeville, Louisiana that put up some good numbers in high school.
Senior DeMarcus Robinson (5-7, 210) and sophomore Jarvis Leverett (5-11, 205) are competing with Jones for the starting position. It doesn’t appear that any of them have a huge advantage at this point.
Also in the mix is incoming freshman, Dalvin Warmack, from Blue Springs, Missouri. He’s not highly rated but he had a huge senior year rushing for well over 2,000 yards and leading his team to a state championship.
Kansas State still uses a Fullback which is becoming more rare with every passing year.
Glenn Gronkowski (6-3, 235) is the starter here and he had 5 catches a year ago. But, 3 of those were for TDs and one of those was for 67 yards. He also is a very good blocker and he’s also the younger brother of New England Patriot Tight End Rob Gronkowski.
At Wide Receiver, the Wildcats return one of the nation’s best players, Tyler Lockett. While a tad on the smallish side at 5-11, 175, Lockett is still one of the best WR’s in the nation because of his quickness and good hands. His father, Kevin, also played at KSU under Bill Snyder as well as his uncle, Aaron.
Tyler Lockett had 81 catches a year ago for 1,262 yards and 11 TDs. Don’t be surprised if those numbers are significantly higher this season.
The Wildcats lost Tramaine Thompson to the NFL, but do return Curry Sexton (5-11, 185) who hauled in 39 catches for 446 yards.
After that, the Wildcats must depend on transfers or wait for some others to step up. Andre Davis (6-0, 190), Deante Burton (6-2, 205) Collin Sexton (6-4, 210), and Judah Jones (5-11, 180) are among a few that need to make a move.
Zach Trujillo (6-5, 255) started some last season at Tight End and is back for his senior year. He caught 5 passes last season for 111 yards and a TD.
Freshmen Zach Heiman (6-6, 230), Cody Small (6-4, 240) and Dayton Valentine (6-4, 260) will compete for playing time here as well.
Up front, Cody Whitehair (6-4, 310) is back, but should start at Left Tackle this season. Center should be B.J. Finney (6-4, 310) and he should be a 3 time All Big 12 Center before he is done and one of the very best in the country.
Junior Boston Stiverson (6-4, 310) has started a few games and should be the starter between Whitehair and Finney at Left Guard. Senior Drew Liddle (6-3, 290) should get the start at Right Guard.
Junior Matt Kleinsorge (6-5, 305) could be the starter at Right Tackle. The back ups at tackle should be youngsters Reid Najvar (6-4, 290) and Ajhane Brager (6-4, 280). Depth at guard should come from Will Ash (6-2, 340) and Luke Hayes (6-6, 300). The back up center should be Reed Bergstrom (6-2, 305).
The defensive front should be lead by one of the nation’s best players, Defensive End Ryan Mueller (6-2, 245) who returns for his senior season after sacking the QB 11.5 times a year ago. He was 5th on the team in total tackles and had 18.5 tackles for losses as well.
Junior Marquel Bryant (6-3, 245) should start on the other side and had a couple of sacks on his own as a reserve. Laton Dowling (6-3, 255) is a senior that could see some playing time opposite of Mueller.
Tanner Wood (6-5, 240), Davis Clark (6-3, 240) and Jordan Willis (6-5, 250) all could contribute at Defensive End this season. Redshirt Freshman Wood had a really good Spring and looks like he could be the next big thing for the Wildcats at Defensive End.
Travis Britz (6-4, 295) is a fantastic player at Defense Tackle making 3 sacks a year ago and blocking 4 punts or Field Goals. He was the team’s 9th leading tackler from his inside position in 2013.
Valentino Coleman (6-2, 285) is also back at a tackle position but expect him to be pushed by outstanding JC transfer Terrell Clinkscales (6-3, 315). Clinkscales was the Wildcat’s #1 rated recruit this season.
Will Geary (6-0, 290), DeAndre Roberts (6-5, 280) and Matt Selwert (6-3, 290) should provide plenty of quality depth. Geary, in particular is really good and he comes from a wrestling background.
The Wildcats run the new craze defense, the 4-2-5 and the LBs should be senior Jonathon Truman (5-11, 220) and sophomore Will Davis (6-0, 225). Truman was a starter last season and the team’s second leading tackler.
Dakorey Johnson (6-3, 200) and Charmeachealle Moore (6-0, 215) provide experience and depth. But, watch out for D’Vonta Derricott (6-1, 230) and Isaiah Riddle (6-2, 230) a couple of highly sought after JC guys.
Randall Evans (6-0, 190), Nate Jackson (5-11, 185) and Morgan Burns (5-11, 195) should start at the corners. The back ups are kind of young, but talented. Danzel McDaniel (6-1, 205) is another JC transfer that could compete for playing time. Redshirt freshmen Corey Jackson (5-9, 160) and Cre Moore (6-0, 175) should play roles in the future of the DB at KState.
Safeties should be Dante Barnett (6-1, 185) and maybe Dylan Schellenberg (6-0, 190) or Sean Newlan (6-2, 200)
Bill Snyder will field a defense at Kansas State as long as he is the coach. The offense is often what they struggle with, but this season should be better than last because of the experience returning at QB and the Offensive Line.
They may or may not be top 25 material and we will find out pretty quickly.