KSAL Staff - October 27, 2014 8:00 am
MAC STEVENSON LIVES IN SALINA, AND WRITES A WEEKLY COLUMN FOR OVER TEN NEWSPAPERS IN KANSAS
Last Saturday Kansas State solidified their position as a viable contender for college football’s first Final Four with an impressive 23-0 win against Texas.
K-State plays at home against Oklahoma State this Saturday. The Cowboys are slightly down this season and the Cats should win. But Coach Snyder is always cautious and said, “I understand that they [players] read it and they understand where they are. They’re enthused about that, and rightfully so, they should be. But again, you can’t take anything for granted—that gets you in trouble. Thinking about where you are as opposed to where it is you need to go will get you into trouble.”
K-State is still in first place and the only unbeaten team in Big 12 play. The Wildcats have five games remaining, including the three challenging road games at TCU, West Virginia, and Baylor.
In his second term as K-State’s coach, Bill Snyder has quietly changed his recruiting strategy; the Wildcats have 15 young men from Kansas playing significant roles.
Having 15 key players from Kansas is nonconforming to the established norm. The Kansas youngsters who are playing major roles include the following: On Offense—wide receivers Deante Burton (So. Manhattan), Cody Cook (Jr. Louisburg), and Curry Sexton (Sr. Abilene); offensive linemen B.J. Finney (Sr. Andale), Luke Hayes (Jr. Scott City), Matt Kleinsorge (Jr. Olathe), Boston Stiverson (Jr. Andover), and Cody Whitehair (Jr. Abilene); and running back DeMarcus Robinson (Sr. Wichita). On Defense—DBs Morgan Burns (Jr. Wichita) and Dylan Schellenberg (Sr. Wichita), DL Will Geary (Fr. RS Topeka), and LB Jonathan Truman (Sr. Kechi). Specialists—LS Dalton Converse (Jr. Clay Center), and K Nick Walsh (Fr. Lyndon).
This objective assessment of the 2014 K-State team’s makeup results in one unassailable conclusion: Snyder and his staff have dominated in-state recruiting for the last five years.
The widely held opinion that the state of Kansas is weak in high school football is a fallacy. Coach Snyder and his staff have discovered a method of finding physically gifted high school players—who are not highly recruited—in a number of small Kansas towns.
When these young men arrive in Manhattan, they are given a redshirt year and another year or two to mature. And then they emerge as spirited and effective Kansas State football players.
Coach Snyder has been nominated for the College Football Hall of Fame. What a wonderful conclusion to his iconic coaching achievements it would be if Kansas State made the first Final Four of college football and Snyder was elected to the CFBHOF. It could happen.
KU football coach Clint Bowen and his staff have had a bye week to try and stabilize the Jayhawks’ offense and defense and special teams. Since Bowen took over, Kansas has played competitive football; they will face an acid test this Saturday when they travel to Waco to play a high-scoring Baylor team.
The feeling here is that Bowen is the right man for the head coaching job at KU. If he’s hired and successful, Kansas will be able to keep Bowen and continuity is vital.
KU’s basketball team has been practicing for about three weeks and opens their exhibition season on Monday (Nov. 3) against Washburn.
Kansas coach Bill Self will be starting his 12th season at the Jayhawks’ helm and brings an amazing string of 10 consecutive Big 12 championships to the 2014-15 season.
KU is loaded with talent and depth. After exhibition games with Washburn and Emporia State and a regular-season start against UC Santa Barbara (Nov. 14), Kansas plays Kentucky at Indianapolis in the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 18. Kentucky is ranked first in almost all of the preseason polls and Kansas is fifth.
Coach Self has fierce competition going on for the starting and backup positions in KU’s lineup. The sure starters appear to be Wayne Selden (6-5, 230) at shooting guard, Perry Ellis (6-8, 225) at power forward, and Kelly Oubre (6-7, 200) at small forward. For the Kentucky game, the guess here is that Self will go with Frank Mason (5-11, 185) at point guard and Cliff Alexander (6-8, 240) at center.
Kansas has four other perimeter players vying for playing time: Devonte’ Graham (6-2, 175), Svi Mykhailiuk (6-8, 195), Conner Frankamp (6-0, 165), and Brannen Greene (6-7, 215). In the pivot, Self has Jamari Traylor (6-8, 220), Hunter Mickelson (6-10, 245), and Landen Lucas (6-10, 240) in the fight for minutes.
That’s 12 talented ballplayers that could play for just about any team in the nation. It’s anyone’s guess as to which of these players will emerge as the starters.
Self has stated that this team is as skilled as the 2008 national champions—it’s going to be another exciting season for Kansas basketball.