Football team adds 14 players on early national signing day to 2021 roster

K-State football helmets line the bench in the Wildcat's game against West Virginia in 2019. (Archive Photo by Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

Early national signing day for college football was Wednesday and the Kansas took advantage of the day to ink several new players to the 2021 team.

“I’m really excited for our staff to be able to bring these young men into the fold,” head coach Chris Klieman said in his press conference Wednesday afternoon.

K-State added 14 members to its team, which ranked in the Top 50 by Rivals, 247Sports and ESPN. Four of the players are from the state of Kansas.

One big signee was four-star quarterback Jake Rubley from Highland Ranch, Colorado. Rubley is rated as the 25th-best overall prospect and No. 3 pocket passer in the nation by ESPN.

“Jake [Rubley] loves the game of football, and that’s what you are looking for at the quarterback position is someone who loves the game of football, that is a sponge and wants to learn from coach [Collin] Klein and coach [Courtney] Messingham and get in our system quickly,” Klieman said. “He has a really strong arm and is a really accurate player, and we are excited to add another piece to our quarterback room.”

Landing Rubley was just one of the many wins for the K-State football program.

“When you land someone of Jake’s caliber, people take notice, and it definitely helped us,” Klieman said.

K-State also signed two new offensive linemen, bringing in Hadley Panzer from Lakin, Kansas, and Andrew Leingang from Bismarck, North Dakota, who is ranked as a Top 10 center by 247Sports.

“Andrew knows how to win,” Klieman said. “All they do at Bismarck Century is win state championships, and he won another one this year. We were fortunate enough to land Andrew, a versatile offensive lineman that can play guard or tackle. He’s very athletic, very physical with a great personality.”

The Wildcats grew at the linebacker position as well, adding Gaven Haselhorst from Hays, Kansas, who is ranked as the No. 22 linebacker in the nation by 247sports. K-State also added Davonte Pritchard from Gardner, Kansas, and Kew Jackson out of Queen Creek, Arizona.

Two wide receivers were in the early signing day class as 6-foot-1, 175-pound RJ Garcia out of Land O’ Lakes, Florida, and 6-foot-4, 206-pound Brenen Hawkins out of Coffeyville, Kansas, signed with the Wildcats.

K-State also inked three players at the defensive back position in Darell Jones out of Coffeyville, Kansas, Omar Daniels out of Moultrie, Georgia, and Marvin Martin out of Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Ozzie Hoffler, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound defensive end from Atlanta, Georgia, and Devrin Weathers, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound running back of Webb City, Missouri, both rounded up the early signees for K-State on Wednesday.

K-State had a special 15th signee on Wednesday as well, adding Gunar Reed, a K-State fan out of Overland Park. Reed has had 36 surgeries and three open-heart surgeries in his lifetime. Klieman signed Reed so he could be a K-State Wildcat for life.

“[Gunar Reed] is somebody that embodies toughness, resiliency, character, integrity, always has a smile on his face, G-Man has been through an awful lot,” Klieman said.

While today’s early national signing day was different than any before because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Klieman and the coaching staff still tried to find ways to celebrate with the new players.

“We are excited because it’s a great day for us at Kansas State to welcome these young men and their families, so we couldn’t be more thrilled for these guys,” Klieman said. “We had a pretty good Zoom with a number of them and celebrated. I’m excited about these guys.”