For the last four years, Kansas State fans have been familiar with number 14 running onto the field on fourth downs.
Unfortunately, that familiar sight will be no more. There will still be a number 14 on the squad, of course, but it won’t be the same one that fans have known so well.
Nick Walsh has been the starting punter for the K-State football team since 2014. He became a starter during the second game of his redshirt freshman season, and he held that position all the way through his senior season.
Walsh hails from Lyndon, Kansas. Lyndon is a small town of around 1,000 people that can be found approximately 32 miles south of Topeka.
Walsh started his football career as a second grader. He played running back and linebacker in his early days, and he eventually learned to kick, too. Walsh said it was not until his junior year of high school that he became the starting punter for the Lyndon High School Tigers.
For a player that had only become a starting punter two years prior to joining a Power Five conference team, Walsh has had an impressive career.
Walsh can be found in the K-State record books with the second-most career punting yards (9,187) and tied for the third-best average yards per punt (42.3).
Walsh has also made his presence felt in the Big 12 conference, residing at 13th on the all-time list for punting yards and 17th in yards per punt. In 2017, Walsh finished fifth in the conference for his 2,487 punting yards, and took second for averaging a career-high 43.6 yards per punt.
In each of his four seasons at K-State, Walsh finished in the top 10 of the Big 12 in terms of both punting yards and yards per punt.
Walsh has twice been a Ray Guy Award candidate, the award for the best punter in college football. In 2015, Walsh earned Honorable Mention All-Big 12 honors. He would then work his way up to third team in 2016, and second in 2017.
This past December, Walsh completed a milestone off the field: graduating college with a degree in finance.
Since graduation, Walsh has signed with an agent and will pursue his dream of playing in the National Football League.
With plenty of time on his hands now that he is no longer going to school, Walsh has big plans in the upcoming months to train for a career in the NFL.
In February, Walsh will travel to Phoenix and attend a combine specifically for specialists. In March, he will spend more than a week in California to train with retired NFL placekicker John Carney, who runs his own training program.
Carney played 25 seasons in the NFL, and was a “kicking consultant” for the New Orleans Saints when they won Super Bowl XLIV.
Walsh will also prepare for K-State’s Pro Day coming up in the spring. He said he will be training at K-State for the first few days of each week and then will spend the rest of the week in Topeka.
While in Topeka, Walsh will spend time with his personal trainer, Colin Nichols. Nichols is not only a physical trainer, but also a musician.
“[Nichols] is a guy I love to be around and a great mentor for my musical passion,” Walsh said. “Music has been something I have always loved, just never created. I have always liked doing difficult things to test my perseverance as a man and find out how bad I want something.”
Additionally, Wildcat fans may soon be able to find Walsh on Spotify.
“I’ve been writing songs as well and hope to have some out there for everyone to listen to within a couple years,” Walsh said.
Even though he has a passion for music, Walsh said he is currently centering most of his focus on football and the NFL.
“I trust God’s plan and his ability to put me in a position to succeed one way or another,” Walsh said. “If it is just not happening with the NFL, my heart may be directed toward music for a while after that all settles down. Regardless of what happens, I know I’ll put my everything into whatever I decide to do, even if both music and football don’t work out down the road.”
While Walsh did have a significant impact on the gridiron in Manhattan, his presence reached further than just Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
As he reflected on his favorite memories from his time at K-State, Walsh said it was the relationships he built, with a few in particular standing out.
In September 2015, just a few days after Manhattan resident Tate Reid was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Walsh had the privilege of meeting Reid. Since their relationship began, Reid has become like a little brother to him.
“It has been the most rewarding thing in my life to be his mentor and friend,” Walsh said.
Walsh also said he feels blessed by the whole Reid family, as they have seemingly taken him in as their own and have helped him to see all of the things that truly matter in life.
Another relationship that Walsh cherishes from his time in Manhattan is one with Maddix, his “little brother” through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Walsh was paired with Maddix last spring, and he said it has been very neat to watch him grow, to see him become a happier person and to know he is able to have a special impact on Maddix.
Some may remember that Walsh recently gave away a Yeti cooler to raise awareness for Big Brothers Big Sisters. As a result, 20 new volunteer inquiries were made, and the tweet was seen nearly 400 thousand times.
— Nick Walsh (@nickolaskwalsh) December 18, 2017
Walsh said he wanted to give his final thanks to K-State.
“I cannot thank K-State enough for giving me the opportunity to be here, because this platform has changed me as a man, and I would have never had these relationships otherwise,” Walsh said.
Walsh said he thinks that over the course of his college career, he improved as a leader and grew a willingness to set good examples, both on and off the field.
“I am the first to admit that I make more mistakes than anyone, but it is never about where you are standing, it is about where you are headed,” Walsh said.
If he sticks to that philosophy — whether he is playing football on Sundays, putting music on Spotify, investing in the lives of young people or whatever it may be — Walsh will find success as he embarks on his new journey.