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Kansas State Reloads After Winning Big 12 Title
May 11, 2013
By Wendell Barnhouse | Correspondent

2012 record: 11-2, 8-1 in Big 12, lost Fiesta Bowl.

Returning starters: Offense: 7; defense: 1; kicker/punter: 0.

Top players returning: RB John Hubert, LB Tre Walker, S Ty Zimmerman, WR Tyler Lockett, OL B.J. Finney, WR Tramaine Thompson, OL Cornelius Lucas.

Need replacing: QB Collin Klein, LB Arthur Brown, WR Chris Harper, DE Meshak Williams, LB Justin Tuggle, CB Nigel Malone, CB Allen Chapman, K Anthony Canetele.

In review
Spring practice did not resolve the battle to replace quarterback Collin Klein. Sophomore Daniel Sams, who has thrown eight passes in his career and served as Klein's backup last season, will continue to battle with junior-college transfer Jake Waters when preseason practice starts.

Regardless of who wins the starting job, no doubt Kansas State will be picked to finish in the middle or lower in the Big 12 standings. Based on the last two seasons, that would be a mistake. Coach Bill Snyder's team has finished better than predicted, including winning last year's Big 12 title.

Snyder will need another masterful coaching job if the Wildcats are going to contend for another championship. Klein's leadership and play making will be difficult to replace. Sams, who averaged 7.3 yards per carry and scored three rushing touchdowns last season, and Waters performed well in the spring but it is expecting a lot (too much?) for either to perform at Klein's level.

Senior running back John Hubert, who rushed for 947 yards last season, should provide steady production in the running game. Leading receiver Chris Harper is gone by Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett return; both are reliable targets plus can make plays as kick returners.

Middle linebacker Arthur Brown, the team's leading tackler, is one of nine defensive starters that must be replaced.

Quick slants
Kansas State must find a replacement for kicker Anthony Cantele. He led the Big 12 last season in field goal percentage, making 19 of his 23 attempts and also made all 64 of his extra point attempts.

Blake Slaughter decided to redshirt last season and is back in 2013 for his senior year. He is expected to step in and take over for middle linebacker Arthur Brown, who had 100 tackles last season.

One of the unsung heroes on offense the last two seasons was fullback Braden Wilson, who made the running game go with his ferocious blocking. There are three candidates to replace Wilson - Zach Nemechek, Glenn Gronkowski and junior-college transfer Adam Weber. Gronkowski, a redshirt freshman, is the younger brother of New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Coach Bill Snyder on ...
Replacing the missing starters:
"Every year is going to be different regardless of who you have back, and the number of people you have back. The dynamics change year in and year out, regardless. We have what we have. It's not a matter of, 'Is there some sort of magic formula where you can address the fact that maybe you have less experience than you have at some other particular year?' We've been here before."

On top recruit Devon Nash, a junior-college transfer who could start at defensive end:
"He's still getting acclimated. There's a lot of things that are very different. The pace is very, very different. The learning curve is very, very different. The demands and expectations are extremely different and he's just getting acclimated to that. He's never had to go through what he's going through right now, either at the high school level or junior college level."

On the competition to fill nine starting spots on defense:
"We have about five guys in our interior defensive line that have made that a competitive position. We have got four guys with our defensive ends that have made that competitive. Our linebacker position is probably competitive with legitimately four guys right now. Our secondary, about six guys have made it competitive."

2013 Schedule
Aug. 30 North Dakota State
Sept. 7 Louisiana-Lafayette
Sept. 14 Massachusetts
Sept. 21 at Texas*
Oct. 5 at Oklahoma State*
Oct. 12 Baylor*
Oct. 26 West Virginia*
Nov. 2 Iowa State*
Nov. 9 at Texas Tech*
Nov. 16 TCU*
Nov. 23 Oklahoma*
Nov. 30 at Kansas*
- Conference game.
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