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Kansas State failed to generate much in the way of national respect this season despite a top 8 BCS rankings showing leading up bowl season. The major BCS bowls passed on Kansas State, so they had to settle for the Cotton Bowl against Arkansas. The team continually struggled to move up much in the rankings week to week despite finishing as a Top 10 team and No. 2 overall in the Big 12 football standings. So what is Bill Snyder to do? Prove them wrong again next year.
The reality is that even those who want to give Snyder's team some respect have to admit that the same roster likely played over their heads last season. David Ubben covers the Big 12 for ESPN and admits as much although he believes the team could win 9 or 10 again next season as they improve. He writes:
It all comes down to improvement. You're crazy if you think K-State was truly as good as its record this year. It found ways to win games late this year, but the Wildcats weren't a 10-win team.
Next year, though? With as much returning talent as the 'Cats have, they very well may be. It's all about one of the basic tenets of Bill Snyder's program: daily improvement. K-State won't have to win as many close games against mediocre teams next year, but they'll be in close games once again. Just, you know, with better teams. We'll see if that late-game experience pays off. The defense will be better. The offense, as long as it replaces the starters on the offensive line, should be solid.
Next year, the 'Cats look like a 9-10 win team with some upside. It'll be exciting to see how Collin Klein progresses as a passer this offseason. He was a completely different player from September to December.
Klein is going to make all of the difference much like Baylor's Robert Griffin III did this season. Klein will have to place the team on his shoulders at times to will them to win if they are to repeat last year's success. The Big 12 should be tougher in 2012 and powers like Oklahoma and Texas will be looking to the top again.
Bill Snyder's teams are usually under-the-radar, turning lesser known prospects into better on-field products. So it's not surprising that Kansas State falls far short of the Texas Longhorns or the Oklahoma Sooners on the instant grade charts that come after National Signing Day. However a "C-" is not likely what fans of the Wildcats were hoping for.
The team's scouting report writes, "Coming off a strong season on the field, Kansas State used that to land another solid junior college class that should see the field quickly. The first commit of their 2012 class was quarterback Tavarius Bender (Lincoln, Neb./Southwest), a dual-threat signal-caller who needs to improve his accuracy but is a good athlete with a powerful arm. With great measurables and getting a chance to participate in spring practices, he could be considered a player in the mold of current QB Collin Klein and possibly even develop into a better passer.
"Defensive tackle Travis Britz (Harrisonville, Mo.) is a good, tough and physical football player in the trenches and helps address some need on the defensive line. The Wildcats are also counting on juco recruits such as Marquez Clark (Texarkana, Texas/Navarro CC) and offensive tackle Tavon Rooks (Corsicana, Texas/ Navarro CC) to play a huge role next season."
There were no last minute surprises for the Kansas State Wildcats during 2012's version of National Signing Day, but that may bode well for the stability that head coach BIll Snyder is bringing back to Kansas State University in his second stint with the Wildcats. He built the program from the ground up the first time, and if last year was any indication, Snyder is well on his way to restoring the roar in Lawrence.
Kansas State has never been known to have heralded classes that many of the other programs in the Big 12 have, but Snyder certainly knows how to infuse junior college talent with the high school recruits they bring in, to build a tough football program.
According the Rivals.com, this latest group of recruits ranks seventh in the Big 12 in terms of talent, which is the highest finish for the Wildcats since the 2008 group was picked fourth. Each the last three classes ranked last in the Big 12 in terms of talent projections, but as we witnessed on the field in 2011, the most talented team on paper doesn't always translate to victories on the football field.
That 2008 recruiting class included junior college transfers Brandon Banks and Daniel Thomas who have graduated to the NFL, and a three-star quarterback from Loveland, Colorado by the name of Collin Klein.
In addition to the 19 recruits who inked with the purple on Wednesday, the Wildcats also have an abundance of recruits from 2011 who greyshirted last year and count towards this recruiting class.
Among them are five three-star recruits. They are athlete Dante Barnett, defensive back Morgan Burns, defensive tackle Lamonte Clark, defensive end Hunter Davis, and defensive tackle Samuel Harvill.
With Barnett likely to figure into the mold at defensive back, that is five additional players who will all help out on the defensive side of the ball.
Also of note, the Wildcats will have Glenn Gronkowski, a 6'3" 210 lb fulllback on the roster. That last name should certainly ring a bell as brothers Dan Gronkowski, Rob Gronkowski, and Chris Gronkowski all currently play in the NFL. Brother Brodie didn't so bad either, as he played in the Los Angeles Angels' minor league organization. Gronkowski may have been lightly recruited coming out of high school as a 195 lb wide receiver from Amherst, New York. However 15 lbs later and with a great bloodline, Gronkowski is a name to watch in the future.
As for the class as a whole, I look for Marquez Clark to put up numbers immediately for the Wildcats at wide receiver next season. As with most junior college transfers, he is more seasoned for the adjustment to Big 12 football.
Elwood Clement and Tavon Rooks look the part as they will help provide a boost to the offensive line. With both being junior college transfers, again they will likely be seeing the field sooner rather than later.
Overall a solid class for the Wildcats, a class that will provide a lot of depth on the line, on both sides of the ball. For more continued K-State recruiting news and notes, make sure to head on over to Bring On The Cats, SB Nation's home for all things Kansas State.
By now most every Kansas State football fan knows they won’t get a wow feeling when national signing day rolls around since there won’t be a plethora of five stars next to the Wildcats commitment list. Bill Snyder and his staff have their strategy in place and they stick to it, which means they try to identify players they can develop and work in their system.
Thus when fans look at the eventual conference rankings they can usually expect to find Kansas State somewhere down around the ninth or tenth spot as determined by the “experts”. The 2012 rankings are no different as one conference ranking showed the Wildcats with the seventh best class out of nine teams, West Virginia was still not listed as a Big 12 member, but we can assume the rankings had K-State below the Mountaineers as well.
Last year the Wildcats were towards the bottom of the pack but they found a few key players like CB Nigel Malone and Tyler Lockett who filled voids and helped lead K-State to levels not seen for quite some time. Common sense would say that a few new incoming players could find themselves in starting roles once the season rolls around so who are the most obvious choices.
Naturally you should expect more initially from junior college recruits and this is definitely the case with K-State as the juco guys coming in are at positions of need. The Wildcats welcome in two huge offensive lineman in Tavon Rooks and Ellwood Clement who are listed at 6’6” 270 lbs and 6’4” 295 lbs respectively. With the loss of both starting tackles from this past season it would be somewhat disappointing if neither player could come in and at least gain playing time in 2012.
On the defensive side of the ball the Wildcats could look to junior college recruit Kent Gainous to fill the void at safety for the graduated Tysyn Hartman. If Gainous can gain a starting spot in the secondary next season that could possibly give K-State three out of the four starters hailing from the junior college level assuming the starting cornerbacks are Nigel Malone and Allen Chapman. Two junior college players, Chaquil Reed and Wesley Hollingshed, will compete for playing at defensive tackle next to Vai Latui who came in from the juco level last season.
Trying to pick which high school player might contribute next season for K-State is simply a crapshoot as only one high school player from the 2011 class, Tyler Lockett, was a major contributor this past season. One player who might have a chance to step in and compete for playing time right away could be OL Aderius Epps who is listed at 6’2” 295 pounds so it would appear he already has the size needed to hold his own. The Wildcats have spots to fill on the offensive line but as previously mentioned Epps will be competing against a couple of incoming junior college recruits in Rooks and Clement as well as the returning players from last season.
It is not uncommon for a few more names to trickle in late as Snyder always seems to have a few surprises out there. While the recruiting season is exciting and keeps a level of interest on college football, K-State fans have learned to take the hype with a grain of salt.
Although the Charlie Weis has picked up quite a few commitments this week for his first Kansas Jayhawks squad in the fall, it appears as though he may have lost at least one.
According to Matt Tait of LJWorld, Butler County CC defensive lineman Chaquil Reed appears to have switched his commitment from the Jayhawks to the rival Kansas St. Wildcats. Tait reports that Reed has not officially announced his commitment to the Wildcats just yet, but that is expected to happen at some point on Tuesday.
Reed is a strongside defensive end who is a consensus three-star recruit from Wichita. He was the 33rd-highest defensive end in the 2010 Rivals rankings.
For more on the Jayhawks, check out Rock Chalk Talk. For updates on Kansas State, head over to Bring on the Cats. For everything college football, visit SB Nation's college football news hub.Click the link for more on National Signing Day 2012.
There’s no doubt that Collin Klein leads the dynamic offensive attack of the Kansas State Wildcats and his continued experience and maturity should only make him that much more dangerous in the 2012 college football season. That said, Bill Snyder’s latest wideout addition from the JuCo ranks should help give Klein someone dependable to throw to.
Marquez Clark is being called one of the top JuCo transfers in the country, and Snyder always does a nice job uncovering playmakers from the JuCo ranks.
“The Wildcats are hoping that QB Collin Klein can upgrade the passing game this year. They won’t ask him to initiate a turnaround on his own. Clark has been brought aboard from Navarro (Tex.) College to provide a spark to the offense and the special teams. In his second season, the one-time Wyoming recruit turned 98 receptions into 1,639 yards and 15 touchdowns. A smaller, quicker type pass catcher, Clark has the ability to take short pitches and turn them into long gains. He’s capable of headlining a corps in Manhattan that welcomes back just one Wildcat who caught at least 25 passes in 2011.”
With such a loss among seniors from last season, Clark will be called upon early and often. The good news is that his experience and skills should allow him to do so.