K-State plugs holes with JUCOs for run at Big 12 title
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) Kansas State coach Bill Snyder began his signing day news conference by running through the sheer volume of returning starters next season, an odd tact on a day that celebrates newcomers.
The reason: Many of those newcomers are expected to fill what few holes remain.
The Wildcats landed four-star linebacker Daniel Green, top JUCO linebacker Daquan Patton and safety Gervarrius Owens late in the process, plugging up three of their biggest holes on defense.
Kansas State also filled up on offensive lineman and dominated in-state recruiting.
''Everybody always talks about finishing and we did, we finished last season quite well,'' Snyder said Wednesday, ''but as I try to tell our players all the time, starting is just as significant as finishing. We didn't start well. The message I'm trying to portray with our program and with our players and coaches right now is we're in the mode right now of starting. How well are we going to start?''
Other things to know:
Top 25 Class: No.
Best in class: Green was among the top-rated players in Oregon and a rare West Coast find coming out of Portland. He should compete for playing time right away after Elijah Lee declared a year early for the NFL draft. ''He's a very aggressive player,'' Snyder said.
Best of the rest: Patton arrives at Kansas State from Trinity Valley Community College in Texas, and the second-team junior college All-American should push early for playing time.
Late addition: Owens had offers from Iowa State, Kansas and several other power schools, but chose Kansas State on signing day. He is another crucial signing to help solidify the backfield.
One that got away: Evan Fields, S, Midwest City, Okla. Kansas State went toe-to-toe with schools including Arizona State, UCLA and Notre Dame. Fields ultimately chose the Sun Devils.
How they'll fit in: The Wildcats played more freshmen than just about anybody in the nation last season, so most of their talent on both sides of the ball will be returning this season. And that means expectations of competing for a Big 12 title are already rampant in Manhattan. Along with linebacker and safety, the Wildcats will have to replace defensive end Jordan Willis, the Big 12 defensive player of the year. There are several in-house candidates, but keep an eye on Xavier Davis, a three-star prospect from Pima (Arizona) Community College.
The Wildcats loaded up on offensive linemen in this year's class, but the biggest difference-maker on that side of the ball might be three-star prospect Chabastin Taylor. The 6-foot-3 wide receiver from Giddings, Texas, could fill nicely the void left by senior Deante Burton.
For the full list: http://www.kstatesports.com/
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