Countdown to Kickoff: 55 days away with offensive lineman Hayden Gillum, linebacker Cody Fletcher

Leading up to the start of K-State's 2021 football season, the Collegian takes a look at what to expect and highlights every player on the roster. (Archive photo by Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

Up first for this doubleheader is Hayden Gillum, a 6 foot 3 inch, 290-pound offensive lineman from Plainville, Kansas.

As a four-year letter winner at Plainville High School under head coach Grant Stephenson, Gillum racked up plenty of accolades on the defensive side of the ball before heading to college.

Gillum earned first-team all-state honors as a junior and senior from the Topeka Capital-Journal, was a first-team honoree by the Wichita Eagle as a senior and an honorable mention pick as a junior.

He helped the Cardinals go 11-2 his junior season, leading the team in tackles all four years of his career. He also set the second-highest mark in Mid-Continent League history with 354 total tackles, including 206 solo tackles and 14 sacks.

A preferred walk-on, Gillum redshirted the 2018 season and saw action in one game against Bowling Green in 2019.

The 2020 season offered more action for Gillum, playing in six games as a reserve offensive lineman as well as playing on special teams as field-goal protection.

With some experience under his belt, Gillum is expected to see more playing time this year alongside fellow lineman Ben Adler, Josh Rivas and Dawson Delforge.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Collegian looks at Cody Fletcher, a 6 foot 2 inch, 222-pound linebacker from Henrietta, Texas.

Under head coach Byron West at Henrietta High School, Fletcher helped lead the Bearcats to the quarterfinal round of the 2015 UIL 3A D2 state playoffs and an overall 12-2 record his senior year. For his efforts, he was an honorable mention all-state honoree and was awarded the District 2-3A D2 Defensive MVP after totaling 210 tackles during his senior year.

Fletcher was a four-sport athlete in high school, adding tennis, basketball and baseball to his resume. For the latter, he was named the District 9-3A Defensive MVP as a catcher twice.

Fletcher went on to play at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas, under head coach Danny Palmer, racking up impressive numbers to earn Second Team All-Southwest Junior College Football Conference (SWJCFC) honors. He lead the Apaches with 104 tackles in nine games, including a 17-tackle game against Trinity Valley.

After committing to Kansas State on June 17, 2018, Fletcher played in all 12 games his sophomore season — mostly on special teams. He had five total special teams tackles, six linebacker tackles against Baylor and two against both UTSA and Texas Tech.

Fletcher saw action in seven games in 2019 after recovering from an injury in fall camp. He totaled 13 tackles — three of which came from kickoff coverage — and had three pass breakups.

In the 2020 season, Fletcher played in all ten games, starting in the last three of the season. He ended the season with 44 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, while also tallying 1.5 sacks and a pass breakup.

Heading into his senior season, Fletcher will likely see plenty of playing time alongside fellow senior linebackers Ryan Henington and Eric Munoz.