On Wednesday, K-State head coach Bill Snyder and his staff welcomed 32 players to the program on National Signing Day, including nine who are already enrolled and on campus.
The Wildcats will welcome six community college players as well as 26 from the high school ranks.
ESPN Senior Recruiting Analyst Tom Luginbill says that although K-State’s recruiting class may not be flashy in overall rankings, the lack of attention works for the Wildcats’ style.
“I think it plays into their favor,” Luginbill said. “I think they have some bit of a luxury because they can really scrutinize and see who fits their style of culture and play on the field. He (Snyder) doesn’t have to compete with the biggest schools for the top prospects and knows the model that fits his system.”
Luginbill says that the number of players looking at a potential redshirt or grayshirt year in the program shouldn’t strike any fear in Wildcat fans.
“He’s not forced to play with any player right away,” Luginbill said. “He’s been able to show that he can do that each season. He places guys, tracks them and continues to evaluate them through their college career. There is a lot to that, but I think he’s got that down to a science.”
The departures of All-American quarterback Collin Klein and middle
linebacker Arthur Brown have provided an added intrigue for K-State faithful heading into the 2013 season.
After the departure of a player of Klein’s caliber, the addition of NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year Jake Waters brings competition and much needed depth to the quarterback position.
Waters is coming off of a 12-0 National Championship run at Iowa Western, and threw 39 touchdown passes to just three interceptions in his sophomore campaign.
Waters will be joining back-up quarterback, redshirt sophomore Daniel Sams.
Snyder says the addition of Waters brings plenty of positives, including the added depth in the chart.
“It’s really significant,” Snyder said. “You know it’s important, and I think it’ll certainly enhance Daniel’s play and vice versa. We’re hoping it becomes a very competitive environment, and I have no reason at this point in time to believe that it won’t. The greater competition you have at any position, whether it’s quarterback or any place else, probably the better opportunities for young people to improve their performance and feel compelled and committed to do so. I think both of them are. It’ll hopefully be good competition.”
Another new player on the offensive side of the ball is Jesse Ertz of Mediapolis High School in Burlington, Iowa. Ertz joins the quarterback unit after a senior campaign in which he was elected Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year.
Facing a defensive overhaul with a number of graduating seniors, the Wildcats hit the defensive side of the ball hard, bringing in 18 players to build depth within the program.
With departures all across the defensive line as well as the secondary, finding replacements at the high school and junior college ranks is critical.
K-State welcomes in Waters’ junior college teammates, defensive end Devon Nash and defensive back Travis Green, and each will compete immediately.
From the high school ranks, the Wildcats bring in two strong candidates at the defensive end in 6-foot-5-inch, 235-pound Tanner Wood out of Conway Springs, Kan. and 6-foot-5-inch, 250-pound Jordan Willis from Kansas City, Mo. Willis will very likely stick to the position, but Wood’s choice of position isn’t certain.
Snyder expressed similar feelings on each athlete, and says that each possess a great amount of ability and athleticism in relation to their overall size.
The commitments and signings of Willis and Wood make up a special part of the recruiting class, as each athlete received scholarship offers well before their senior year, a rarity for the Wildcat coaching staff.
“The key word is maturity,” Snyder said. “I think they fit in well with all the things we address aside from the football field and you can see their talent level. And you’re right, we don’t do that frequently. We just felt strongly about them and thought it was the right things to do.”
Linebacker Nick Ramirez from West High School in Lee’s Summit, Mo. brings in an impressive resume as a three-year starter. He was ranked as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, as well as a three-star recruit by ESPN.com
Snyder says Ramirez will have an opportunity to compete for playing time next fall.
“I think he could,” Snyder said. “We lose some linebackers, and I think anybody who comes in we’ll certainly take a hard look at and see where they stand.”
Junior college transfer and linebacker Dakorey Johnson, a one-time Texas Tech commitment out of Trinity Valley Community College, will add depth to a Wildcat linebacker unit that’ll replace two starters.
Scottsdale Community College transfer defensive tackle Chris Brown, who brings in an impressive 6-foot-4-inch, 345-pound frame, will help ease the process of replacing K-State’s top two defensive tackles.
As is the case for any recruiting class, development will be key and Snyder says it’ll take time to see how the new signings develop within the Wildcat program.
“As we’ve always maintained, it takes several years to accurately assess the quality of a recruiting class and the young men who represent it,” Snyder said. “Hopefully we have assessed the skills, capabilities and intrinsic values of these young people accurately.”