In the 2012-13, the world saw two programs end their seasons on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Auburn finished with a 3-9 record, including an 0-8 in SEC play. K-State, on the other hand, finished with one of the best records in program history, finishing 11-2 while earning a Fiesta Bowl berth.
However, it wasn’t the finish to the season that had the lasting effects on both programs; it was what happened shortly thereafter.
In February of the following year, both programs received signed letters of intent from quarterbacks that were considered to be the best junior-college quarterbacks in the nation.
The two quarterbacks who signed those letters, senior quarterbacks Jake Waters and Nick Marshall, will take the field against each other for the first time tonight.
Waters came out of Iowa Western Community College as the offensive player of the year, and not surprisingly, the first-team All-American selection at quarterback.
Who was the second-team All-American selection at quarterback? Marshall.
What ties these two players together the most was the Wildcats’ battle to sign each player after their junior college careers.
The Wildcats recruited both players heavily, which wasn’t a surprise due to the loss of Heisman candidate Collin Klein. Both players brought unique qualities to the table that the Wildcats could have used equally as well.
Waters could throw the ball better than most Wildcat quarterbacks of the past. Marshall, who was one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks available, could have continued the quarterback run success that the Wildcats had relied on through the Snyder era.
Marshall also received something that many players don’t get: a compliment of character from Wildcats’ head coach Bill Snyder.
Snyder, who is known for holding a player’s character and integrity on and off the field in high-regard, thought highly of Marshall.
“Just watching him play (in junior college), (he is) a talented young guy, he could do everything that we talked about,” Snyder said. “I enjoyed meeting him, he was a good young person and I liked him as an individual.”
Snyder, knowing what kind of player that Marshall is because of the tape that he saw during the recruiting process and the plays that he has continued to make for the Tigers, knows exactly what to expect when the Auburn quarterback comes into town.
“He’s a talented young guy and he can do both throw it and run it, his numbers indicate exactly that,” Snyder said. “They say (the Tigers are) a team that likes to run the football, it’s their first emphasis, but they’ll throw the ball. They’ll try to cast it downfield, and he has an ability to do that; he has a strong arm. (The fans) will see him running the ball and see him throwing it.”
Being in the same level of football as Marshall for the last three years, Waters is familiar with Marshall.
“I knew of him because of JUCO (football),” Waters said. “I knew what kind of player he was, and I kind of knew he was getting recruited by K-State. I wasn’t quite sure about all of (the recruiting plans), I was kind of just focused on myself and the process for me, trying to make the best decision for me.”
Waters has become a good example of the hard-nosed player that Snyder is known for having. He is more of a leader for the Wildcats and is refining his abilities as a runner and a passer.
Marshall took a team that was down in the dumps before he arrived and took them to last season’s national championship game. He has developed into a quarterback that can beat teams in multiple ways.
In a strange twist to Marshall’s story, he will undoubtedly get a feel of what could have been when he steps under the lights of Bill Snyder Family Stadium.