This Saturday night in primetime, the Kansas State Wildcats will take on the Texas Longhorns in Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Assuming that the Oklahoma Sooners get past TCU earlier in the day, the Wildcats must win to secure the Big 12 conference title. Mixed in with the overall importance of the game is the fact that it will also be the final time that the seniors play a game in Manhattan, KS.
This, of course, means that K-State fans only have one final chance to come out and see guys like Heisman candidate Collin Klein and All-American candidate Arthur Brown. While the main attractions will be the aforementioned Klein and Brown, there are many other seniors who deserve praise for the success that K-State has experienced the past couple of seasons.
Just throwing some names out there would give you a list of Adam Davis, Meshak Williams, Chris Harper, Nigel Malone, Allen Chapman and it'd be easy to continue. Two particular seniors who fly under the radar nationally but have played critical roles these past four years are fullback Braden Wilson and punter Ryan Doerr. Due to the positions played neither has become a household name outside of Big 12 country or possibly even just Manhattan.
Within the Kansas State fan base and football team, there has to be a strong appreciation for what each player has done. Wilson is a native of Smith Center, KS who came to K-State and after greyshirting in the 2008 season, he found his way onto the field as a freshman in 2009. All he has ever done since is lower his head into opposing players to create running lanes for his teammates. His blocking helped Klein run for over 1100 yards last season in route to scoring 27 touchdowns.
In 2009, Wilson paved the way for Daniel Thomas who led the Big 12 in rushing and was subsequently selected in the NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. In his four seasons Wilson has a grand total of 19 carries for two touchdowns to go along with 18 career receptions. Not once has Wilson ever complained publicly about his lack of touches or his role in the offense. It definitely shows the mark of a player who is fully committed to the overall team concept and not to his own personal wants.
Even though fullback is a dying breed with the increased prevalence of spread offenses across all levels of football, Bill Snyder has shown that a bulldozer like Wilson still has a place on the gridiron. Look for Wilson to be earning a paycheck next year doing the same routine on Sundays.
Another major loss for the Wildcats next season is Doerr who has been the starting punter the past four seasons. His ability to pin opponents deep and not allow returns has helped K-State consistenly win the field position battle. Winning in field position has in turn forced teams to travel the length of the field to score and given the Wildcats defense more opportunities to create turnovers.
Much like offensive lineman, punters rarely get noticed too much unless they mess up but Doerr has been so solid he should expect to get a very loud round of applause when introduced. The ironic part about senior night though for Doerr is the fact that every K-State fan who cheered for him in pre-game festivities will hope that he never has to see the field in his final collegiate home game.