Doubling up for No. 33 on the countdown to kickoff series are teammates Jaylen Carter and Xavier Loyd.
First up is second-year player Jaylen Carter, a redshirt freshman defensive back who did not see any playing time in 2020.
Carter is another pickup for head coach Chris Klieman from the Manhattan area. While he wasn’t a top-level recruit, he still shined out of Topeka at Washburn Rural High School.
Carter came to Kansas State alongside former high school teammate Drake McCall, who entered the transfer portal after only a short run with the team. The linebacker was part of a very deep linebacker group.
As a walk-on, Carter is betting on himself making the decision to come to K-State. However, his goals don’t stop at making the team.
“I’m going to try to take that starting spot,” Carter said in an interview with the Topeka Capital-Journal. “I’m going to work as hard as I can and that’s the goal. I don’t want to make it a wasted opportunity.”
— Jaylen Carter (@jaylen_carter_) January 27, 2020
Standing at 5 foot 10 inches and weighing 165 pounds, Carter meets the average size for a college defensive back. His speed is what might give him an advantage over other players.
As a junior, Carter placed sixth at state in the 100-meter dash. COVID-19 shut down his senior track campaign. Carter also spent two years on the powerlifting team.
On the football field, Carter received honorable mention all-state awards as a junior and senior from the Topeka Capital-Journal and Wichita Eagle. Carter also played in the Shrine Bowl, playing one last time for his high school coach Steve Buhler.
If Carter puts the work in, he has the make-up to get some special teams action. However, the jury is still out on if he can get a defensive back position this early in his career. Academically, Carter plans on majoring in sports nutrition.
The second player wearing No. 33 is freshman wide receiver, Xavier Loyd.
Coming out of Blue Springs High School in Blue Springs, Missouri, Loyd grew up just outside of Kansas in the Kansas City area.
At 6 foot 3 inches and 180 pounds, Loyd has the size for a good college wideout, but coaches will likely want some more muscle weight on him. Loyd uses his frame to keep defenders away and get jump balls.
Just a freshman, Loyd has already spent time catching passes from quarterback Skylar Thompson. During a spring 2020 workout with former Blue Springs player and current Kansas City Chief Darrius Shepherd, Loyd ran routes for Thompson, Shepherd’s good friend who he brought along to the workout.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Loyd said in an interview with the Examiner. “I’m getting comments from Darrius Shepherd on how to run routes, really important things that will help my game, while Skylar Thompson is throwing me passes. It was just unbelievable!”
— Xavier Loyd (@XavierLoyd) December 30, 2020
Countdown to Kickoff: 35 days away with kicker/punter Taiten Winkel, defensive back Jairus Kennedy
Loyd’s commitment to the game impressed Shepherd, who gave Loyd pointers during their practice session together. Loyd showed up half an hour early for the session.
“I didn’t know Xavier before, but he reached out and said how he wanted to improve his game, so we set up a time to work out,” Shepherd said in an interview with the Examiner. “The ‘get there early’ part just shows if someone really cares, and he brought the notebook so he could write down key points so he didn’t forget them later.”
As a senior in high school, Loyd caught 40 balls for 556 yards and nine touchdowns, which awarded him all-conference and all-district honors.
With interest from places like Washburn, Missouri Southern State and Southwestern Oklahoma, perhaps Loyd’s session with Thompson is what landed him a preferred walk-on from the Wildcats.
As a freshman, it is a long shot that Loyd catches anything from Thompson this season, but that doesn’t mean he won’t eventually get his shot.
Loyd plans on majoring in athletic training and rehab sciences.