There are now 20 days until Kansas State football kicks off the 2021 season against Stanford. With that, the Collegian looks at the two players wearing No. 20 on the team, Joe Ervin and Ben Driver.
Joe Ervin is a 5 foot 8 inch, 178-pound sophomore running back out of Rock Hill, South Carolina. There is plenty of hype surrounding Ervin for the 2021 season after opting out of this past season.
“Joe Ervin, I don’t know if he’s the fastest kid on the team, but he plays the fastest on the team right now,” head coach Chris Klieman said at his initial preseason press conference. “It’s fun to watch him because he is an electric kid, and man does he go a million miles an hour. He’s a guy that we can get the ball to, and he can do some good things.”
Ervin is in an odd position at K-State. Now in his third year with the Wildcats, he has yet to have an actual full season. In his first season in 2019, he redshirted after playing in just four games.
During that four-game span, Ervin rushed for 95 yards on 23 rushes. His breakout game was against Kansas, rushing for 46 yards on 10 touches.
Ervin also scored a touchdown in 2019, finding the endzone on a 1-yard rush against Bowling Green.
Ervin has received plenty of accolades with the team earning Prizefighter of the Week for his play in practice and the committed Core Value Award.
Before coming to K-State, Ervin was a standout player at South Pointe High School, rushing for 3,384 yards with the Stallions in his career. That mark broke the school record for most rushing yards in a career previously held by NFL superstar corner Stephon Gilmore.
He had his standout season as a senior, rushing for 1,964 yards and 23 touchdowns the year after winning a state championship with South Pointe. During recruitment, he was ranked the 56th-best running back in the 2019 class by ESPN.
Ervin received offers from Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina, East Carolina and Seton Hall.
After missing out on the 2020 season, running backs coach Brian Anderson and the rest of the team said they were happy to have him back this year.
“I think when he got back, he was welcomed back with open arms,” Anderson said at a press conference with the media on Wednesday. “He just takes it day by day, and I think this was his best summer since he’s been here. He’s in really good shape.”
Ervin looks to make an impact this season, joining running backs Deuce Vaughn and Jacardia Wright to become a powerful tandem for opposing defenses.
El-Naggar surges for a late draw in women’s soccer home opener
Today’s second player is Ben Driver, the 6 foot, 203-pound sophomore defensive back from Salina. As a preferred walk-on recruit from Salina Central High School, Driver has only played on special teams with the Wildcats so far.
After redshirting in 2019, Driver played against Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Texas this past year on special teams. His efforts off the field earned him First-Team Academic All-Big 12 honors last year.
Driver has earned Scout Team Player of the Week honors twice with K-State the weeks of Sept. 29, 2020, and Oct. 22, 2019.
Scout Team Players of the Week ⤵️
Defensive: @BenBkd20 #KStateFB ⚒ pic.twitter.com/0PhAOWO3iF
— K-State Football (@KStateFB) September 30, 2020
Scout Team Players of the Week ⤵️
Offensive: @Hayden_Gillum55 and @KeenanGarber
Defensive: @Jaypick45 and @BenBkd20
Special Teams: @jburkhart_3 #KStateFB ⚒ Pound The Stone pic.twitter.com/ZYKldm6Haf
— K-State Football (@KStateFB) October 23, 2019
Growing up a K-State fan, Driver announced he would be joining his favorite team through Twitter on Feb. 4, 2019.
Born and raised a Cats fan so I’m proud to announce that I’ll be furthering my academic and athletic career at Kansas State University #EMAW #WTDD pic.twitter.com/rtYORvdFbo
— Ben Driver (@BenBkd20) February 5, 2019
Driver was a four-year letter winner with Salina Central despite missing his 2017 season because of an injury. He came back in a big way in 2018, leading the Mustangs to a 7-3 record and earning first-team all-state honors from the Wichita Eagle.
Driver was a force on both sides of the ball in 2019, recording 100 tackles, six interceptions and six tackles for loss on defense. On offense, Driver recorded 20 receptions for 392 yards and scored four times.
In Driver’s comeback game in 2018, he returned a punt for a touchdown, helping the Mustangs win their first football game since 2015.
Best thing you'll see all night.
Ben Driver broke his jaw before his junior season and had to miss all of 2017.
Tonight, in his first game back he returns this punt 47 yards for a touchdown. @We_Are_SC beats Eisenhower 44-7, first win for Salina Central since 2015. pic.twitter.com/bACrx9uVQG
— Chris Lilly KAKE (@ChrisLillyKAKE) September 1, 2018
Driver was also a four-year letter winner with the Salina Central basketball team.
— Ben Driver (@BenBkd20) December 1, 2018