KSAL Staff - April 21, 2014 8:00 am
MAC STEVENSON LIVES IN SALINA, AND WRITES A WEEKLY COLUMN FOR OVER TEN NEWSPAPERS IN KANSAS
Kansas State’s football team will hold their annual spring game this coming Saturday (April 26) at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan. Coach Snyder has the foundation for another outstanding team firmly in place.
The Wildcats are well-set at most positions; nevertheless, a few starting jobs are up for grabs. Competition for running back is still open with two sophomores leading the way.
Senior DeMarcus Robinson (5-7, 210) was one of the early favorites to win the job, but his spring hasn’t gone well. Snyder recently said, “DeMac hasn’t been on the field enough . . . he has a couple of things that hold him back.” That doesn’t sound encouraging for Robinson.
Sophomore RBs Charles Jones (5-10, 197) and Jarvis Leverett (5-11, 205) appear to be the front runners for the starting RB position; however, trying to figure out what Coach Snyder is thinking can be difficult indeed. Concerning the two sophomores, Snyder said, “Both of them have the ability to have good movement in their ball-carrying talents. By that I mean they seemingly have the ability to make people miss, but I haven’t seen any of that on a consistent enough basis to know that’s something they’ll be proficient at.”
Senior Jake Waters (6-1, 212) is established as the starting QB, which is a significant advantage going into summer workouts and preseason practices in the fall. Waters has one potential All-American receiver in Tyler Lockett (5-11, 175). Daniel Sams (6-2, 210) has been moved from QB to WR and how Sams does in the spring game will be a focal point for fans and coaches alike. Snyder feels Sams is progressing and said, “Daniel is making headway . . . he’s probably as improved as anybody. His improvement was just trying to understand the nuances of what to do. He knew where receivers were supposed to go but just an understanding of how to get there. He’s learning and embracing that much better. He’s doing well.”
Sams could develop into a dangerous WR to go with Lockett, which would make the Wildcats’ passing game a major cause of concern for opposing defenses.
One other noteworthy position change is moving junior Cody Whitehair (6-4, 310) from LG to LT to replace the departed Cornelius Lucas. Whitehair has the talent and perseverance to be an outstanding player at the vital LT position.
Snyder has the K-State program right where he wants it again and the Wildcats have the talent to be another special team this fall.
Despite center Joel Embiid’s departure for the NBA, KU’s 2014-15 basketball team will be well-fortified at the center and power forward positions. Coach Self will have Perry Ellis (6-8, 225) and Jamari Traylor (6-8, 220) back for their junior seasons at power forward.
The center position will be manned by sophomore Landen Lucas (6-10, 240) and Arkansas transfer Hunter Mickelson (6-10, 245) and incoming freshman Cliff Alexander (6-9, 245), who will split time between power forward and center. Alexander was named MVP for his team in the Jordan Brand Classic.
About Mickelson, Self said, “He can shoot the ball. He can score. He’s good. Any time you have a tall guy who can shoot, it’s hard for guys [defenders] to deal with. We’re excited to have him.”
Kansas is still in the hunt for heralded Texas recruit Miles Turner (6-11, 235) who will announce his choice of schools on April 30 on ESPNU. Regardless of what Turner does, KU is going to be loaded in the pivot.
Following the April 19 game with Minnesota, the Kansas City Royals had won five straight and were tied for first with Detroit in the American League Central Division.
KC’s starting pitching has been highly effective, but the bullpen had an unimpressive start. That’s changed. There’s much to be encouraged about concerning the Royals, but the recent performances from the bullpen heads the list.
The relief pitchers that have been particularly efficient during the last ten days include the following and their ERAs: Aaron Crow (0.00), Danny Duffy (0.00), closer Greg Holland (2.57), Wade Davis (2.89), Kelvin Herrera (3.38), and Louis Coleman (3.86).
Duffy and Crow have been close to unhittable when they have their control, which has been the case in their last few games. Holland started slowly, like last season, but he’s been outstanding in his last few outings.
Danny Duffy has been the major change in the bullpen; he’s been throwing his fastball at 96-98 mph and his control has been more than adequate. If he can continue to be this dominating, KC will have one of the best bullpens in MLB.
The defense has been superb and the hitting is coming, slow but sure. The Royals are rollin’.