Kansas State officially announced the transfer of former Michigan State wide receiver Hunter Rison on Wednesday. Rison was once a four-star recruit coming out of high school.
The son of former Kansas City Chief Andre Rison will have to sit out the 2018 season due to NCAA transfer rules. He headlines the 2018 recruiting class that features 24 future Wildcats.
K-State’s best high school recruit is a three-star offensive lineman out of Humble, Texas: Christian Duffie.
K-State’s 2018 recruiting class is rated 67th in the country by 247Sports. That is ninth in the Big 12 and one of the worst classes of all Power 5 conference schools.
This is part of what head coach Bill Snyder is known for: taking transfers and three-stars and turning them into stand-out players. Snyder’s been doing it for 26 years, but is it sustainable beyond the 78-year-old coach?
Maybe it is, other teams in other sports have shown that finding diamond-in-the-rough-type players is possible. Bill Belichick does it in New England, Dayton Moore did it in Kansas City and the Oakland A’s are an entire organization built around it.
Unless there is a Moneyball-esque formula for finding and developing that type of player, a formula that Snyder could pass on to his son, Sean, or another assistant coach, K-State is going to have to figure out how to recruit better.
The strengths on K-State’s recruiting front are its facilities, reputation and atmosphere. The Vanier Football Complex is impressive, and Kramer Dining Center and Wefald Hall are great places to show incoming freshmen.
However, Bill Snyder Family Stadium is relatively small and unexciting when compared to Texas’ Memorial Stadium or even Oklahoma State’s Boone Pickens Stadium.
K-State has a reputation for developing undersized and underappreciated players into stars. Names such as Darren Sproles and Jordy Nelson are all a recruit needs to hear to be reminded of this.
The problem here is that this reputation is tied to Snyder, not K-State itself. When Snyder retires, the next coach will have to prove that he can do the same thing.
K-State Family is an easy sell to people who are traveling from far away to visit Manhattan, which let’s face it, is somewhere of more interest. Players from the most talent-rich states such as Texas, California, Florida and Georgia are going to be a long way from home.
Which brings me to K-State’s weaknesses: location and program history.
Location is a huge problem for K-State’s recruiting efforts. Kansas is one of the least fertile football recruiting states in the country. The only geographically close place Kansas would be able to realistically challenge for top talent is Texas. And everyone else, including top recruiting classes, recruits Texas.
Oklahoma has some good football players, but with two great programs in the state, K-State needs to find talent in a place with talent to spare.
K-State also has very minimal program history. Highly competitive players want to play for a highly competitive team, and unfortunately, there is not much to point to in the way of football success in Manhattan.
This year’s recruiting class was in middle school the last time K-State challenged for a Big 12 Championship. They were not born yet during most of Snyder’s successful seasons in the ’90s.
For these players, unless they were a K-State fan growing up, they likely were not exposed to K-State much, and especially not to a great K-State team.
There is not much to differentiate K-State from a host of other Midwest schools with the same issues, except Snyder. Schools such as Colorado, Iowa State and Minnesota are all in similar positions.
Recruiting needs to be in the forefront of Athletic Director Gene Taylor’s mind when he hires the next football coach after Snyder decides to retire, or else K-State football may be in for a tailspin.