Wildcats continue Fiesta Bowl preparations, explore community

Photo by Tommy Theis Tyler Locket as he catches a huge touchdown pass from Collin Klein against the West Virginia Mountaineers to lead to a Wildcat victory in West Virginia.

It has been 30 days since the No. 5 K-State Wildcats were celebrating in Bill Snyder Family Stadium after defeating then-No. 18 Texas to win the Big 12 title. The 11-1 season earned the Wildcats a spot in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl to face off against No. 4 Oregon.

The Wildcats landed in Phoenix on the 28th of December and have been enjoying the hospitality of the Fiesta Bowl since.

“I think the young guys in our program have had the opportunity to enjoy the Scottsdale area. I wouldn’t say it was a festive party that they were involved in, but they’ve gotten around to see the community,” said head coach Bill Snyder. “You have to have some balance in all of it. I mean, even when they were in Manhattan, Kansas, it’s not football 24/7.”

For some of K-State’s key players this will be their first time getting to play in a bowl game for K-State, for many others, it will be the last time they get to put on the Wildcat uniform.

Despite earning first team all-american honors as a kick returner in 2011, the Fiesta Bowl will be the first time sophomore wide receiver Tyler Lockett will get to play in a bowl game for the Wildcats; Lockett was sidelined with an injury for the final four games of the season.

“Last year when I got hurt, I really didn’t even get to practice this long so just to be able to come here to Arizona and just be able to practice and actually go through bowl prep has been a great experience,” Lockett said. “At the same time, being able to play Oregon in my first bowl game. I think it’s going to be an exciting moment.”

On the other side of the spectrum, for senior quarterback and Heisman trophy finalist Collin Klein, the Fiesta Bowl will be the last time he will ever put on a K-State jersey.

“We talk about finishing all the time. We haven’t finished in the last two years,” said Klein.

During his tenure at K-State, Klein has earned many personal accolades and has won many games, however he has never won a bowl game. The Fiesta Bowl would not only be a big accomplishment for Klein, but it would also be K-State’s first ever BCS Bowl victory.

“When you talk to Collin, it’s not about Collin. For Collin, it’s about his teammates,” said Snyder. “Being the best teammate that he can be, being a quality leader in our program and caring about each and every person in our program. Those are the things that he’ll probably share with you.”