Countdown to Kickoff: 31 days away with defensive back Jahron McPherson, running back DJ Giddens

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)

It’s officially one month until the Kansas State football team kicks off against Stanford at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Sept. 4. With exactly 31 days until kickoff, the Collegian looks at the two players on the roster who wear that number, Jahron McPherson and DJ Giddens.

Today’s profile starts off with the undisputed senior leader on defense — Jahron McPherson. The star defensive back stands at 6 foot 1 inch, weighs 200 pounds and hails from Basehor, Kansas.

After a freshman year stint at Butler Community College in 2016, where McPherson recorded two tackles and a pass breakup in three games before injuring his knee, the defensive back decided to transfer to K-State. Redshirting his sophomore year at K-State in 2017, McPherson made a massive impact his first year actually playing for the Wildcats in 2018.

In that first season on the field, McPherson recorded 19 tackles and an interception to go along with two pass breakups in his 10 games played. He had the first of his two career-high games against Oklahoma that year, recording four tackles against the Sooners.

McPherson improved even more during his junior year, going from one start in the previous season to 12 starts in 2019. By the end of his junior season, McPherson was fifth in total tackles, recording 36 that year.

Of those 36 tackles, six came against Mississippi State, a new career-high for McPherson later shattered in 2020. One of those 36 tackles was also McPherson’s first tackle for loss of his career.

Those numbers are nothing compared to McPherson’s monstrous 2020 campaign, where the senior was named a team captain in what was thought to be his final season with K-State. He started in all 10 games and led the team in total tackles with 54 throughout the season.

In K-State’s thrilling upset victory over Oklahoma this past year, McPherson had yet another career game against the Sooners — one that might be hard to replicate. The senior standout had 11 tackles, including possibly the hit of the year for K-State that led to a crucial fumble recovery.

McPherson also had the game-sealing interception, picking off freshman phenom Spencer Rattler.

That game earned McPherson multiple accolades, including Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week, Thorpe Award Player of the Week, Nagurski Trophy Player of the Week and the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week.

His stellar performances continued with two eight-tackle games against Texas Tech and West Virginia and seven tackles against Oklahoma State.

Along with his 54 tackles, McPherson had 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, two interceptions and a forced fumble against Oklahoma. That season stat line was enough to get McPherson All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors at the end of the season.

However, McPherson was not done yet. With an extra year of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic, McPherson officially announced his return for one final year at K-State with a Twitter post on Dec. 22, 2020 — two days after senior quarterback Skylar Thompson announced his return as well.

Heading into his final year at K-State, McPherson is a Fourth-Team Preseason All-Big 12 honoree by Phil Steele and also has his name on the Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list.

While the accolades are nice for McPherson, the senior said at Big 12 media day that he is focused on bigger things.

“I want to be first-team all-conference, things like that, but I put the team first before everything,” McPherson said at Big 12 media day. “Our goal is that Big 12 Championship.”

DJ Giddens is the next player wearing No. 31 on the roster. As a brand new freshman on the team, little is known about the 6 foot 1 inch, 200 pound running back out of Junction City.

Giddens, a two-star recruit according to Rivals, committed as a walk-on this summer on June 26.

Playing for the Junction City Blue Jays in high school, Giddens had a stellar performance against Wichita East in the 6A West Sectional Final as a senior. Giddens scored five rushing touchdowns, including the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter to propel the Blue Jays to a 49-42 victory.

Giddens joins a loaded backfield for K-State and will most likely redshirt in 2021.

Hey! I’m Cameron Bradley and I am the sports editor for the Collegian! I am a junior from Wichita, Kansas, and I am majoring in journalism. When I’m not working for the Collegian, I’m creating content and putting on broadcasts with K-StateHD.TV. I am also currently a member of the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity. I love sports, spending time with friends, family and doing everything that I do for the glory of God!