The cliché that you tend to hear a lot is that the backup quarterback on a football team is the most popular guy in town. This definitely is not the case in Manhattan, KS where Bill Snyder welcomes back Collin Klein to lead K-State for one final season. For those that do not remember, Klein led the Wildcats to a regular season record of 10-2 and a berth in the Cotton Bowl. He led the Wildcats with 1141 rushing yards while accounting for 40 total touchdowns both on the ground and through the air.
So with K-State in the middle of spring football practices it is obvious who is the unquestioned starter but many fans will no doubt want to know who the backup quarterback is going to be heading into next season. Currently on the spring football roster there is only a total of four quarterbacks, including Klein, listed. This group of players does not include one of the backups from last year, Justin Tuggle, who has since moved to linebacker for his senior season in hopes of seeing some playing time before his career is over. So who are the backup quarterback candidates to watch in the spring and especially in K-State's spring football game on April 28th.
One of the first commitments in the 2012 recruiting class, Bender comes to Manhattan as a highly regarded dual threat quarterback from Lincoln, NE. It came as somewhat of a surprise to some that Bender chose K-State despite interest from his hometown Cornhuskers but the Wildcats promise of letting him play QB turned out to be the deciding factor. Bender measures in at 6'3" and 210 pounds and the scouting report says he has good but not great speed while he is still developing as a passer.
Like most young QB's the knock on him as a passer is his lack of accuracy in the short to intermediate passing game. The good news for Wildcat fans is that Bender appears to want to make himself a better player and compete for future playing time as he graduated high school early and has been in Manhattan participating in offseason workouts and now spring football. He is definitely a player to keep your eyes on in the spring as he is definitely shaping up as a strong competitor to be the QB of the future at K-State.
Here is a player that many K-State fans might be most looking forward to watching in the spring as he easily could be considered the front runner for the backup role come the fall. While Sams spent last season as a redshirt that time should have only helped him as he got a much needed year to try and absorb Bill Snyder's playbook while also working on his fundamentals. All indications coming from Manhattan is that Sams is a fantastic athlete with good size, 6'2 210 lbs, who is still learning how to play the quarterback position.
The scouting report on Sams coming out of high school was that he has the arm to be able and make all the throws but is very erratic and would be a major project to turn into a reliable passer. Even though he has only been in the program for one season that gives him a major edge over Bender entering the spring as he has had a full year of not only learning the playbook but being in position meetings and practicing under K-State coaches. His continued development and readiness to play this coming season will be very important as Klein is a strong candidate to get hurt due to not only the position but with the amount of hits he is subjected too.
The last quarterback mentioned is Johnson who is a native of Topeka and played at Topeka High School. While it is a pretty good guess that Johnson does not have much of a shot of breaking into the top of the quarterback rotation he is putting forth his best effort as he was awarded the Red Raider award last season which is given for the top contribution made on the K-State scout team. Even though Johnson is likely not going to see the field this upcoming season it is players like him who help contribute to successful seasons.