The Kansas State Wildcats are looking to improve on last year’s 8-5 season. The media got its first look at the squad on a hot Wednesday afternoon at the Kansas State Media Day.
The most apparent change may be at the quarterback position. After a year of sharing the time with Daniel Sams, Jake Waters was named the definitive quarterback last spring. Sams left the Wildcats in May.
“Every quarterback wants to be the guy,” Waters said. “This year I kind of get that opportunity, but it’s a great challenge for me to lead this offense the best way I can.”
Waters is coming off of a 24 touchdown season, 18 in the air and six on the ground. He threw for 2,469 yards, and with more experience and more snaps those numbers could grow.
“I think it will definitely help knowing that I’ve been through a season,” Waters said. “Everything’s not going to be a brand new experience for me.”
He will be throwing the ball to one of the better wide receivers in the conference in Tyler Lockett. The senior is ranked fourth in career receptions and touchdown reception in school history. He had 1,262 yards in receiving yards and 583 in kickoff returns and 11 touchdowns total. Last year’s performance has earned him respect from players across the league.
“That’s an honor, especially looking at where you were last year and the years before, looking at where you are now,” Lockett said. “Just shows, you know, what can happen to you in a year and six months. Being able to have God on your side. Being able to just go out here and work hard every day and perfect your gift.”
However, it won’t just be the Lockett show. The Wildcats are very deep in the wide receiver position. Curry Sexton had a break-out season last year. The Abilene, Kan. After finishing his sophomore campaign with 76 total receiving yards, he skyrocket to 446 yards his junior year.
“Having played a lot of snaps last fall really helped slow the game down for me,” Sexton said. “Being in the program for as long as I have been now, things come a lot easier just because you know the system in and out. You know how to approach practice and workouts and everything else.”
The running backs have big shoes to fill with the departure of three-year starter John Hubert. There are four players all vying for touches this season. Demarcus Robinson, Charles Jones, Jarvis Leverett and freshman Dalvin Warmack will all be competing for the number one spot.
Robinson has the most experience. The Wichita Northwest graduate is the only senior running back on the team.
“I’ve been here for four or five years so I know a little bit about the offense,” Robinson said. “I’m really just trying to help our younger guys. Just make sure that everybody’s assignment sound because we all bring something different to the table when it comes to the running back position.”
With the deep receiving core and inexperienced running backs one would think that the scales may tip towards the air on offense, but Bill Snyder said that won’t be the end goal.
“My interest is in becoming as balanced as we possibly can,” Snyder said. “That’s always been the situation. Now, there’s been times when we’ve tried to be balanced and yet, one side, either the run game or the pass game, kind of outshines, so to speak, the other side of it, but the intent is always to try to create that balance and we will try to do the same thing.”
On the defensive side of the ball, expect Ryan Mueller to make a big impact. The senior is a team captain and 2013 Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year. Mueller tied the school’s single-season sack record with 11.5. He has come a long way from walking on his freshman year.
He is one of the many returners on defense. At linebacker, Jonathan Truman will return. He had 89 stops last year. In the backfield, junior Dante Barnett will try continue last year’s hot-streak. He made three of his four interceptions last season in the last two games. He was also the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl MVP.
The Wildcats; first game is on August 30th against Stephen F. Austin at 6:10pm.