Kansas State football: 15 best wide receivers in Wildcats history

Tyler Lockett, Kansas State Wildcats. (Bo Rader/Wichita Eagle/MCT via Getty Images)
Tyler Lockett, Kansas State Wildcats. (Bo Rader/Wichita Eagle/MCT via Getty Images) /
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Tyler Lockett, Kansas State Wildcats
Tyler Lockett, Kansas State Wildcats. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) /

The Kansas State Wildcats have had some great pass-catchers since the first Bill Snyder era. Here are the 15 best wideouts in Kansas State football history.

The Kansas State Wildcats have one of the most interesting football histories in the college game. Before head coach Bill Snyder’s arrival in Manhattan in 1989, Kansas State football was arguably the worst football program in the entire country. K-State had gone winless in the 27 games before Snyder took over the program. It was about as bleak of a situation as they come in college football.

But Snyder took his brilliant offensive mind over from Iowa City and began to turn K-State into a perennial Big Eight and later Big 12 contender. The Wildcats never have the most talent on the field, but Snyder always found a way to put his best players in position to win. He would go on to win 213 games, reach 19 bowls and win the Big 12 twice in his College Football Hall of Fame career.

2019 will be a different year for K-State football. Snyder has retired for the second time and former North Dakota State Bison head coach Chris Kleiman will take over in the Little Apple. Kleiman won four national titles at the FCS level in Fargo with the Bison. Replacing a legend on the K-State sidelines won’t be easy, but Kleiman’s resume entering the Big 12 is undeniable.

Of course, he’ll have his challenges in recruiting as his predecessor did. However, if he can groom a few quarterbacks as he did with Carson Wentz and Easton Stick at North Dakota State, Kleiman should have no problem putting his stamp on the K-State program.

That being said, he’ll need more than just the quarterback position to set the standard for this new era of Wildcats football. Kleiman will need big-time playmakers on the outside and in the slot to step up. So many excellent wide receivers answered the call for Snyder during both of his stints leading the program in Manhattan.

What we are going to do today is take a look back at the 15 best wide receivers in Kansas State football history. Naturally, most of these playmakers will have starred under Snyder’s watch. There might be a few Ron Prince guys, as well as some who predate Snyder’s original arrival in Manhattan in 1989. Without further ado, let’s start with a receiver who helped K-State win its most recent Big 12 Championship in 2012.

Greatest wide receivers in Kansas State football history: 15. Tramaine Thompson

Tramaine Thompson cracks the top 15 on this all-time list thanks to both his return ability, as well as being on the team during the peak of the second Snyder era in Manhattan. Thompson came to Kansas State out of Jenks High School near Tulsa, Oklahoma. He would play for the Wildcats from 2010 to 2013.

As a freshman in 2010, Thompson had 19 catches for 258 yards as a receiver. He also had 13 punt returns for 96 yards, not bad for a freshman playing in only seven games that season. K-State would go 7-6 that fall, losing to the Syracuse Orange in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.

Thompson would have about the same workload as a sophomore in 2011. However, he would play in 12 games for K-State that fall. He had 21 catches for 338 yards and a touchdown as a receiver, as well as 10 punt returns for 123 yards and 18 kickoff returns for 348 yards. The Wildcats went 10-3 that fall but fell to the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Cotton Bowl Classic in Arlington. K-State would finish the year ranked No. 15 in the final AP Poll.

2012 would be the best year for K-State while Thompson was on the team, as well as arguably his best statistical season playing for the Wildcats. Kansas State went 11-2, won the Big 12, but lost to Chip Kelly’s Oregon Ducks in the Fiesta Bowl. The Wildcats finished the season ranked No. 12 in the final AP Top 25 Poll.

As for Thompson, he had 37 catches for 526 yards and four touchdowns. He had 16 punt returns for 316 yards and a touchdown, as well as 10 kickoff returns for 334 yards. In his senior season, Thompson had 32 catches for 551 yards and five touchdowns. He had another 12 punt returns for 183 yards and two kickoff returns for 112 yards and a touchdown in his final collegiate campaign.

K-State went 8-5 that fall but beat the Michigan Wolverines in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, Arizona. Overall, Thompson finished his college career with 109 catches for 1,673 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also had 51 punt returns for 718 yards and a touchdown, as well as 30 kickoff returns for 794 yards and a touchdown. Thompson may not have been the most prolific offensive player in Kansas State football history, but he consistently made an impact with the program in two phases of the game from 2010 to 2013.