Multiple freshmen saw the field for Kansas State football during the 2019 season. Who should fans anticipate seeing early in Manhattan in 2020?
Every school and their fans are excited when signing day wraps up, as the promise and potential of a brighter tomorrow shines brighter than any other day on the calendar. Potential and promise, however, have never actually won a college football game, as those prospects must develop into players and deliver on that signing day hope.
Kansas State football saw multiple freshmen contribute to their 2019 season, which was headlined by Josh Youngblood, who had multiple kickoff return touchdowns and a second-team All-American recognition.
Running backs Joe Ervin and Jacardia Wright saw extensive playing time and fullback Jax Dineen saw enough playing time to lose his redshirt. Khalid Duke at edge pass rusher was a find for the Wildcats and looks to build on a strong first initial showing.
Who are some names that the Wildcats will look toward and count on next season?
- Tee Denson, Cornerback: Perhaps no high school players is more likely to play extensively than the Georgia cornerback. With good size at 6’1″ and 180 pounds, Denson arrives early and will participate in spring practice in Manhattan. Choosing the Cats over offers from Pitt (previously committed), Virginia Tech, Purdue and TCU, Denson comes to Manhattan with expectations. With corners Johnathan Durham, Kevion McGee and Darreyl Patterson graduating, the opportunity is there.
- Carver Willis, Offensive Tackle: The Colorado native also appears likely to arrive early and participate in spring practice. With all five starting offensive linemen departing this offseason, there will be an opportunity for playing time and Willis is hopeful to see the field. Willis needs to add weight to his 260 pound frame but if he can, and develops over the summer and into the fall, the opportunity to see the field is there.
- Will Howard, Quarterback: While the starting spot is locked up with senior Skylar Thompson, there is playing time available at the backup position. Howard, much like the previously mentioned Denson and Willis, arrives early on campus to participate in spring practice. With a strong spring and fall, Howard could possibly win the backup spot. With previous backups John Holcombe and Chris Herron both transferring, there is a chance for the young Pennsylvania signal caller.
- Will Swanson, Tight End: There could be a trend here, but Swanson is another player arriving in Manhattan early looking for playing time. With starting tight end Blaise Gammon graduating and the offense wanting to use multiple tight end sets, there is an opportunity for Swanson to see playing time in 2020. Tight end can be a difficult position to acclimate to, needing to develop both receiving and blocking skills, but if he can, the opportunity to see the field is there.
In the late part of the recruiting, look for the Wildcats to target at least one junior college offensive tackle and perhaps a high school lineman or two (Any commitments that are unsigned must remain unnamed here). With the issues of wide receivers in the Liberty Bowl against Navy, it would be nice to see K-State finding help at receiver, but it does not appear the staff shares the same belief about the position.
There are two defensive backs that appear committed, but are unlikely to make it to Manhattan due to academics. Fans should anticipate the Cats targeting depth either through different prospects or perhaps are able to find a transfer. It will be interesting to see what the Wildcats are able to accomplish in the next month.
With a highly rated and well-regarded quarterback from Colorado committed for the 2021 class along with three of the top five prospects in the state of Kansas committed, next year’s class appears, while very early, potentially to be one that brings a lot of excitement and expectations for the future.