K-State running backs looking to emerge in fight for starting spot

Freshman running back Alex Barnes cheers after a Wildcat touchdown during the football game between K-State and Oklahoma State in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Nov. 5, 2016. (File Photo by Emily Starkey | The Collegian)

There are many storylines this offseason for the Kansas State football team, but one of the most watched will be who will win the running back position.

There are four players vying for the spot: Alex Barnes, Dalvin Warmack, Justin Silmon and Mike McCoy.

“(McCoy) could fit in with the pack, but he would have to mature a great deal for that to happen. He does have the skill level though,” head coach Bill Snyder said at the press conference on Tuesday.

“I have been very pleased with (Barnes) and (Silmon),” Snyder continued. “Both of them have done a tremendous job. (Warmack) has been banged up a little bit and has not had a way of repetitions, but he will fit into the mix. I think the three I mentioned first. McCoy can, he has the capabilities, but it is just a matter of him understanding what this is about. He just has to mature a little bit.”

Last season the Wildcats were led in rushing yards by quarterback Jesse Ertz, followed by running back Charles Jones. Silmon averaged almost 5.5 yards per rush last year and got the most opportunities of the players up for the position this season.

Barnes seemed to really get things figured out by the latter part of the season and averaged nearly eight yards per carry, but said whether he starts games this upcoming season is irrelevant.

“It’s about who ends, and that’s what I’m focusing on,” Barnes said. “I’ll be willing to step in at any point in a game to help and get a win.”

Barnes said the position is just as competitive as it usually is.

“We’ve been taking reps with the ones and had some others take some as well,” Barnes said. “We are all really close with each other, so it doesn’t make it tough to compete against one another.”

Snyder is still trying to see who will win the job, just like everyone else.

“You would like to see somebody separate themselves,” he said. “(Barnes) intended to move in that direction toward the end of the season. I have been impressed during the spring. It has been very competitive between him and (Silmon). We scrimmaged yesterday and both of them had very fine scrimmages. It is back to being very competitive.”

The Wildcats’ spring game will take place inside Bill Snyder Family Stadium at 1:30 p.m. on April 22.