MANHATTAN, KS - OCTOBER 29: Defensive back Nigel Malone #24 of the Kansas State Wildcats intercepts a ball intended for Trey Franks #2 of the Oklahoma Sooners in the second quarter at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on October 29, 2011 in Manhattan, Kansas. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Even though the K-State Wildcats went 10-2 in 2011 and finished the regular season with a Top 10 ranking do not look for Bill Snyder and his staff to make changes in their recruiting strategy.
It is a well known fact that Bill Snyder has had great success building the Kansas State football program with the help of junior college recruits. Some of the best known Wildcat players of all time came from the juco level, guys like Michael Bishop, Quincy Morgan & Jeff Kelly.
This past season the K-State program found instant impact players on the defensive side of the ball with Nigel Malone, Allen Chapman and Vai Lutui. In particular, Malone was especially effective as he finished the year with 57 tackles and seven interceptions and was named a semi-finalist for the Jim Thorpe award.
It appears that Snyder believes in the cliché that if it isn't broken then don't fix it as K-State has already signed three junior college players for next season. The three are offensive tackle Tavon Rooks, wide receiver Marquez Clark and defensive tackle Wesley Hollingshed.
Coming from the same junior college, Navarro, in Texas are Rooks and Clark. Both enter as highly sought after players but their prospects for playing time appear vastly different based on the projected talent returning at their respective positions.
An early guess would say that the 6'6" 270 lb Rooks would be in a favorable spot to possibly step in right away and become a starter for the Wildcats. This past season, K-State had two senior starters at the tackle positions so there definitely will be an open competition for playing time with no one player guaranteed a spot on the depth chart. In a perfect world, K-State fans would hope that senior tackle Manase Foketi will receive a medical redshirt from the NCAA and be back in 2012 to team up with Rooks. In 2010, Foketi started all 13 games for the Wildcats and opened this past season as the starter at left tackle. The possibility exists that the tackle position could be stronger next season for the Wildcats than it was this past year if Foketi is allowed to return and Rooks adds strength in addition to learning the offense quickly.
The addition of the 6'0" 180 pound Marquez Clark strengthens a wide receiver position that already looked to be quite solid entering 2012. The Wildcats currently look to welcome back starters Tyler Lockett & Chris Harper in addition to Tramaine Thompson and Brodrick Smith who was a starter at one point. There is a possibility though that Clark could step in and immediately steal away playing time from one of those players or maybe Bill Snyder plans on implementing some five wide looks in 2012.
In 2011 at the juco level, Clark was named to the junior college All American team as well as being named the MVP of the SouthWest Junior College Football Conference. He caught a total of 98 receptions for 1,639 yards as a sophomore this past season, both totals set single season junior college records. In addition to his work as a receiver he also was an excellent kick and punt returner for Navarro.
At the defensive tackle position the Wildcats will welcome in Hollingshed who will look to take over the starting position for departing senior Ray Kibble who coincidentally came to K-State himself from Navarro J.C. At a listed size of 6'2" and 300 pounds he definitely projects as someone who can take up blockers in the middle of the trenches.
It does not appear that the Wildcats are done recruiting the juco level either as this past month they had another junior college All American on campus in offensive lineman Mark Glowinski. While for now it does not appear that Glowinski will be attending K-State don't be surprised if a few more junior college players make their way to Manhattan.