STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 5: Wide receiver Tramaine Thompson #86 of the Kansas State Wildcats dives for a reception in the first half against the Oklahoma State Cowboys on November 5, 2011 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Oklahoma State defeated Kansas State 52-45. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
With the exception of Chris Harper the top wide receiving options for Kansas State heading into the 2012 season all have some degree of injury history that has forced them to miss time.
You would assume that a team with 16 listed wide receivers on their official roster along with two recruits joining in the fall would not have an issue finding someone to throw the ball too even if an injury or two would occur. This may not be the case with K-State in 2012 as their wide receiver depth is a major question mark heading towards the season.
About a week ago it was learned that four star junior college commit Marquez Clark would not be attending K-State after he failed to achieve the required credits needed. Even though Clark was not a sure fire starter it was assumed he would compete for a starting role or at the minimum work his way into the playing rotation.
The teams leading receiver last season was Harper and he is expected to once again be quarterback Collin Klein's top option when the Wildcats opt to air it out. Harper has played in every contest for two straight seasons and so while injuries can occur to anyone his durability has been proven. While Harper has managed to stay healthy both Thompson and Lockett have already had to miss some games during their brief college careers.
As a freshman in 2010, Thompson who is a listed 5'8" & 167 pounds, missed the final five games of the season due to a severe ankle injury. He came back in 2012 to play in 12 games and totaled 21 receptions for 338 yards. He performed well in K-State's spring game this past April as he grabbed nine receptions with one of them going for a touchdown. If he can stay healthy again for a full season he gives the team a big play candidate down the field.
Teaming up with Harper and Thompson is last season's freshman sensation Tyler Lockett. He was named a first-team Walter Camp All-American as a kick returner and he has been listed as a pre-season All American candidate again as a returner. As a receiver last season he caught 18 passes with three of them going for scores. His season was cut short though due to a lacerated kidney he suffered against Oklahoma State.
Unfortunately for Wildcat fans it would seem that Lockett, who is a listed 5'11" and 175 pounds, could always be a candidate to miss time due to his injuries. Due to his home run ability as a return man he simply can't be removed from the special teams units and this opens him up to taking more hits. While it was only the spring game it should be slightly noted that he was held out due to what Bill Snyder referred to as a minor injury.
The leading candidate for the fourth wide receiver position is likely sophomore Curry Sexton. Last season as a true freshman he saw action in 11 games with his biggest receiving performance coming in the Wildcats four overtime victory against Texas A&M where he caught two passes for 33 yards. His season though was also cut short due to injury as he suffered a broken collarbone in practice and missed out on playing in the Cotton Bowl. He might be the biggest beneficiary of Marquez Clark not making it to Manhattan this season.
Behind the four previously mentioned players though is where the depth concerns come into place as the Wildcats have a group of players who are either unproven or have been somewhat disappointing so far in their careers.
In players like Ed Brown, Torell Miller, Arrison Davis and Zach McFall you have a group of guys that have been in the program for a few years now but have been buried down on the depth chart. These four players last year combined for a total of six catches for 64 yards. Unless it is an emergency it is not likely any of them should see serious playing time.
Two names simply to keep an eye on for the future are redshirt freshman Kyle Klein and true freshman Deante Burton. Much like his older brother, Kyle Klein is starting his playing career at K-State as a wide receiver after moving over from tight end. His size of 6'3" and 217 pounds makes him an intriguing prospect to watch and see how he adapts to the position.
Burton also has nice size as the Manhattan native is listed at 6'2" and 200 pounds. The scouting report on him is that he has great speed and could possibly find a way to get onto the field this coming season in a return role. Usually you would assume that a true freshman would earn a redshirt but Bill Snyder proved last year with Lockett that he will get his best players onto the field.
The two wide receiver recruits that will be joining the team in the fall are Judah Jones and Kansas City, KS native Vernon Vaughn. As of now it would have to be assumed they will be redshirting in 2012 unless they impress immediately or injuries ravage the team.
So even though Kansas State figures to once again be a run first team behind Collin Klein they likely will have to open up their passing game more this season if they hope to keep defenses honest. While they appear set at the top of the depth chart it should be worrisome to fans that three of their top four receivers have had injury issues in the past couple of seasons. An injury or two this year could make an offense that already lacks a ton of big playmakers even more deliberate.