Kansas State Football
The Kansas State Wildcats placed a school record 15 nominees for major college football awards, breaking the mark of the 1998 team. The nominations ended with Collin Klein being named to the Manning Award Watch List, which honors college footballs best quarterback. Linebacker Arthur Brown led the way for the Wildcats with five nominations. He was nominated for the Bednarik, Butkus, Walter Camp, Lombardi, and Nagurski Awards. Cornerback Nigel Malone had four nominations. He was nominated for the Bednarik, Walter Camp, Nagurski, and Thorpe Awards. Quarterback Collin Klein had three nominations, those were for the Manning, Maxwell, and O’Brien awards. Tyler Lockett, B.J. Finney, and John Hubert all had one nomination each.
They were nominated for the Walter Camp, Rimington, and Doak Walker Awards, respectively. Overall, this shows that Kansas State’s talent level this year isn’t as low as many media members suspect. Put this into perspective, this team has 15 nominees. The 1998 team, which was at one point late in the season the number one team in the country, only had 11. This team has a lot of talent and is destined for a very special season. Oh, and yes this is on a predicted sixth place team.
The Preseason Big 12 Media Poll was released the this past Thursday. The first two spots in the poll were not much of a surprise. The Oklahoma Sooners were picked first, and the West Virginia Mountaineers were picked behind OU. The most puzzling selection was putting the Kansas State Wildcats sixth. Let that sink in for a moment. A team that returns the second most starters in the league behind Texas Tech, and is coming off of a season in which they won 10 games and finished second in the conference standings, is picked sixth?
It has become very apparent that the media does not respect Kansas State and the job that Bill Snyder has done there. It is also very apparent that the media does not watch very much football. This is a team that has proven that they have what it takes to win close games. This is a team that returns essentially every piece to the puzzle that they had last year.
This is a team that has had 15 players placed on preseason award watch lists, which is a school record. You would think that the media would have learned their lesson last year when the predicted KSU to finish eighth, and they finished second. This is going to do nothing but light another fire under the players and they will come out as motivated as ever. All in all, this is just another example of how no one respects K-State. K-State will once again prove everyone wrong this Fall and finish much higher than sixth in the Big 12.
Here are some of the recent happenings in the world of K-State Sports.
– Head Basketball Coach Bruce Weber announced the third and final member of his coaching staff. Chester Frazier, a former player for Weber at Illinois, rounds out the staff that features former Southern Illinois Head Coach Chris Lowery and rising assistant Alvin Brooks III. Now that Coach Weber has his staff complete, the focus turns completely to recruiting. Weber’s first class will be huge for determining how his stint at Kansas State turns out.
-The K-State football team reported for summer conditioning on June 4th. Coaches are not allowed to be present at the drills. This should not be an issue however, due to the great senior leadership on each side of the ball.
-It looks as if K-State might be getting another high profile transfer. Former Florida State linebacker Jeff Luc is highly considering transferring to play for Bill Snyder and the Cats, according to reports.
-Speaking of linebackers, former Wildcat All-American Mark Simoneau was selected as a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. He is one of two K-Staters to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, the other being Gary Spani, also a linebacker.
-Last but certainly not least, K-State high jumper Erik Kynard won the National Championship after jumping 7 feet 8 inches at the NCAA National Championships.
In 2011, the Kansas State football team exceeded everyone’s expectations. They were predicted by the media to finish 8th in the Big 12 and win 4 or 5 games. By now, everyone knows Kansas State football is getting back to the way it used to be. Entering the 2012 season, Kansas State returns the second most amount of starters on any team in the Big 12, behind only Texas Tech. It seems odd that many media members are continuing to discount the Wildcats in the Big 12 Title race for the upcoming season. Yes I understand they won 8 games by 7 points or less. Yes I know Collin Klein needs to work on his passing.
Yes I know the secondary needs to replace two starters. It’s also hard to understand the media’s reasoning for thinking the “ball won’t bounce” K-State’s way as much this year. Do they not realize that last year was Collin Klein, Arthur Brown, Consensus All-American Tyler Lockett, and second team All-American Nigel Malone’s first year as full time starters? Yes it took an interception of Robert Griffin to beat Baylor. Yes it took four overtimes to beat Texas A&M. With a full year starting under their belts for the four previously mentioned, how can this team not be drastically improved from last year. I don’t think people realize that. Another point of confusion is that usually when a team loses many close games in one year and returns many starters for the next year, they are picked by the media to win more games.
So how is it that a team that returns many starters that proved they could win close games, is predicted to win less? I am not even mentioning other key role players returning from last year, such as Chris Harper, Ty Zimmerman, Meshak Williams, B.J. Finney and countless others. Oh, and i haven’t even mentioned the greatest piece to the puzzle, the reigning National Coach of the Year, Bill Snyder. You think this is his first rodeo? All in all, I find it extremely puzzling that the national and local media are back to their old ways of discounting K-State and Bill Snyder. All of these preseason rankings are nothing more than bulletin board material that will ignite a fire in the players. I’m by no means upset by all of this talk, because deep inside we all know it means nothing and is just fuel for the program. As long as this talk keeps up, Bill Snyder’s players will continue to use it as motivation, and they will prove the media wrong, just like they did last year.
Now that all of the Big 12 teams have completed their spring practices, it is time to power rank the Big 12 teams heading into next fall.
The Sooners return quarterback Landry Jones, but will look to replace all time leading receiver Ryan Broyles. On defense OU has to replace Travis Lewis, Ronnell Lewis, and Frank Alexander. Although they have to replace a lot of production, OU still gets the nod at the top of the conference because of coaching and great recruiting.
2. Kansas State
K-State returns quarterback Collin Klein and most of their skill players on offense. They will have to replace most of their offensive line however. On defense, All-Big 12 linebacker Arthur Brown returns as well as shutdown cornerback Nigel Malone. Look for Bill Snyder’s Cats to play smart and not turn the ball over much in the fall.
3. West Virginia
Coming of a 70-33 win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl, West Virginia has high hopes headed into 2012. They are led by Heisman hopeful QB Geno Smith and wide receiver Tavon Austin. Look for Dana Holgerson’s offense to put up monster numbers in his second season at the helm.
Gary Patterson’s squad plays smart and is very tough on defense. Expect a somewhat rough transition into the Big 12, although quarterback Casey Paschall will keep them in games.
Mack Brown’s squad has probably the best roster in the country, if you don’t include the quarterback position. If they can get that figured out, look for them to move up these rankings quick.
6. Oklahoma State
True Freshman quarterback Wes Lunt won the job in spring ball. That raises many questions about the offense if a kid that has been on campus for 3 months wins the job. OSU has a great coach in Mike Gundy, but it will be tough to replicate the numbers that Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon put up last fall.
7. Iowa State
Iowa State has two of the three best linebackers in the league in AJ Klein and Jake Knott. Their defense will be stout as always, but their offense will be questionable.
How is Baylor going to replace RG3? They have a good secondary returning, but replacing RG3 is critical. That’s the million dollar question that will determine Baylor’s fate in 2012.
9. Texas Tech
Tech returns a lot of players including quarterback Seth Doege, but they didn’t produce much last year. It will be interesting to see what Tommy Tuberville can cook up down in Lubbock this season.
New head coach Charlie Weis takes over the reigns in Lawrence. He brought in former Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist to be his starter in 2012 which should ease the transition into his tenure at KU. Don’t expect much from the Jayhawks in 2012, however.
K-State held its annual Spring Game last Saturday. In front of a crowd of about 18,000, the game ended in a 42-42 tie. Head Coach Bill Snyder stuck with his usual spring game format, pitting the first team against the second team and flipping the score at halftime so the first team must come from behind to win. Quarterback Collin Klein’s arm looked fantastic, making nearly every throw. Some surprises included running back Robert Rose, who’ll look to push John Hubert for the starting job during the fall, and wide receiver Curry Sexton, who made a spectacular catch in the corner of the endzone and managed to get his foot down for a touchdown in the first half. Chris Harper looked solid, as did Tramaine Thompson.
Tyler Lockett did not play due to an undisclosed injury. Fullback Braden Wilson got a lot of touches, which is something K-State fans hope to see more of this fall. True Freshman quarterback Tavarius Bender got the nod with the second team offense, which is saying a lot considering he’s only been on campus since January. On defense, cornerback Nigel Malone looked like the same person that was a second team All-American last season. Linebacker Arthur Brown looked extremely fluid in his drops into pass coverage and was his normal ball hawk self on run plays. Converted quarterback Justin Tuggle got the start with the first team defense at linebacker over Jarell Childs. Safety Ty Zimmerman performed well in pass coverage and truly has a knack for getting to the ball. All in all, it was a very vanilla game. Nothing earth shattering, just what we all expected to see from a Bill Snyder coached team. The outright leader on defense is Arthur Brown. Along with his phenomenal play, he brings fantastic leadership. The story this year for Kansas State will be about Collin Klein. This team can go as far as he can take them.
Coming off of a 10-3 season with a second place finish in the Big 12 and a Cotton Bowl appearance, Kansas State has a lot to look forward to for the upcoming 2012 football season. Returning on offense is preseason Heisman contender quarterback Collin Klein, as well as top receivers Chris Harper and Tramaine Thompson and starting running back John Hubert. Returning on defense the 2011 Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year Arthur Brown and Walter Camp All American Nigel Malone, as well as many other starters. Sophomore Wide Receiver Tyler Lockett looks to come back from a lacerated kidney that sidelined him for the last four games of the season.
Despite this injury, the true freshman was named a consensus All-American Kick Returner. There was one coaching change in the offseason as former Defensive Coordinator Chris Cosh took the same position at South Florida. Head Coach Bill Snyder promoted Defensive Backs Coach Tom Hayes to Defensive Coordinator. As you can see, Kansas State has many pieces in place to make a run at a Big 12 and possibly even National Championship. As Spring Practice has arrived for Kansas State, here are players to watch for the spring.
Offense: Collin Klein
Although Klein had an exceptional season last year, many questioned his ability to throw the football. It will be interesting to see this spring how much progress Collin has made in the offseason regarding his passing game. If Klein can get his passing game to an optimal level, combined with his ability to run the football, this will be one of the most explosive offenses in the country and Klein will be a Heisman Finalist come December. He has the weapons on offense to lead this team to a conference championship.
Defense: Justin Tuggle
The Blinn Junior College transfer came to K-State last year with aspirations of being a quarterback. However, Collin Klein took that job and did let anyone come close to taking it from him. During the practices leading up to the Cotton Bowl, Justin Tuggle made the switch from quarterback to outside linebacker, hoping to get a head start on taking a spot that is open with Emmanuel Lamur graduating. It will be interesting to see how far Tuggle has come since last December. He certainly has the physical tools to put it all together. His father was an All-Pro Linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons, so he has it in his blood. I’m excited to see if he can put all the pieces together.
Special Teams: Tyler Lockett
Coming into last year, Tyler Lockett was hoping to redshirt and put on some weight to possibly break into the rotation a wide receiver this year. However, after seeing him practice last summer, Wide Receivers coach Michael Smith thought Lockett could help K-State out immediately. Boy was he right. Lockett turned out not to only be a force on the offensive side of the ball, he was also a force on special teams. As a true freshman, Lockett was named a consensus All-American Kick Returner. During the game at Oklahoma State, Lockett took a punishing hit to the kidney as he was crossing the goal line. He ended u with a lacerated kidney that kept him on the sideline for the remainder of the season. Tyler is reportedly ready to go for spring ball, so it will be interesting to see if he can reproduce last years success despite the kidney injury.