KSU is the most perennially underrated recruiter in the entire B12. I’ll let you in on some of the magic tricks in Bill Snyder’s hat but the most important of them is his ability to gaze through a crystal ball that tells him whether players will fit into his exact system at KSU.
The Wildcats have a precise system that allows them to recruit competencies for most positions rather than simply trying to grab the best overall athletes and then pidgeon-holing them into collegiate roles.That said, this is one of the better classes Snyder has pulled down in recent years and they are quietly pretty excited about it up in Manhattan while the rest of the Big 12 media is woefully ignorant of how exactly Snyder consistently fields solid-to-great teams.It’s worth mentioning that perhaps the most essential ingredient to KSU success in recruiting is that they pick a lot of DT’s from the JUCO ranks. Rather than relying on winning recruiting battles for the no-brainer, 6-3, 280-pound athletes that emerge in high school, or relying solely on projecting which DE’s will add good weight and fundamentals and grow into good DT’s, they make it easy on themselves.They pick the best DL out of the JUCO ranks, where players have already demonstrated what will happen to their bodies and games after a few years of College life. Then, KSU consistently fields one of the better DL’s in the Big 12. It’s that simple.Alright, let’s begin:QB:Needs of the KSU system: Mobility is pretty key since the best KSU schemes utilize a running QB but Snyder has the capacity for coaching and developing a passing game as well. He taught Mangino everything he knows, in fact.Takes: 0They had Texas burner Aaron Sharp in the fold until late in the game when he bailed to UCLA. They have lots of bodies on campus so they aren’t too worried yet but he was a great fit. Good runner, great ability to read and throw on the run.Grade: FRB:Needs of the KSU system: Snyder has 2 RB types he likes. The powerful, versatile featureback who can run their Wildcat schemes (Daniel Thomas, Daniel Sams) and the little hobgoblin who hides behind their big OL before darting through creases undetected (Darren Sproles, John Hubert). They also like to take bruising fullbacks who can catch or lead block on their Wildcat and Option schemes.Takes:Dalvin Warmack: 5-8, 183. Blue Springs, MO. (Blue Springs)Winston Dimel: 6-0, 213. Manhattan, KS. (Manhattan)Warmack is the best scat back I’ve seen them grab since Sproles himself. His short legs allow him to get rapid turnover and elite change of direction and acceleration. He finds the creases and then explodes through them with power. He’s going to be absolute murder in their Zone Read and option attack.
Dimel is the son of the OC, hence his presence in the local high school. He has quick feet and some good power so it’s possible he will contribute more than just father-son opportunities at FB for them. He’ll need to grow into a bruising 240-pounder to really contribute.Grade: B-WR:Needs of the KSU System: They typically take whatever they can get here but there is a preference for speed that translates into play-action threats or big bodies for blocking and making possession grabs over the middle.Takes:Dominique Heath: 5-8, 165. Huntersville, NC (Hopewell)Tyler Ahrens: 6-4, 219. Kerryville, TX (Tivy)Andre Davis: 6-1, 180. Santa Rosa, CA. (Santa Rosa C.C.)The JUCO Davis is a very solid possession receiver without elite speed. The services like him but I wasn’t blown away by the tape. Ahrens is fluid enough at 6-4 to cause some matchup problems and present a nice target for them. Heath is a pure burner. We’ll see if Lockett was a particularly special player (most likely) or if the KSU staff has a gift for turning blazing fast midgets into dominant receivers.Grade: CTE:Needs of the KSU system: They’ll throw to these guys on bootleg or near the goal-line but mostly they love having extra blocking surfaces to create leverage in the run game.Takes: 0Grade: FOL:Needs of the KSU system: The trick here for the Wildcats are complex run schemes that keep a D guessing and unable to play fast. They mix option, draw, Power, inside zone, outside zone, and traps to keep DL from acting on instinct and muscle memory. Throws often come on play-action. Additionally, they rely on quickness and hand placement over power to create running lanes. They teach techniques to move people aside with double teams, rather than trying to drive them backwards. So height and quickness are the values here.Takes:Alec Ruth: 6-6, 298. Highlands Ranch, CO. (Valor Christian)Dalton Risner: 6-4, 285. Wiggins, CO. (Wiggins)Terrale Johnson: 6-2, 314. Hutchinson, KS. (Hutchinson C.C.)Luke Hayes: 6-6, 290. El Dorado, KS (Butler Country C.C.)AJ Allen: 6-7, 315. El Cajon, CA (Grossmont, C.C.)You see what I mean? Three guys that are 6-6 or better. Ruth will need a few years adding strength to be a contributor but he has fairly quick feet. Hayes is even quicker but also needs a little time in their S&C before he’s ready. AJ Allen is an absolute stud and may be an immediate starter at tackle for them where both starters graduate. He has the power and the base to fend off a pass rush or put a DE on the ground. I’m not sure if he’s an NFL prospect but in this scheme he can be All-Conference.Johnson and Risner are very soli interior prospects for them and Johnson translates his massive girth into solid power and ability to move a pile. He might start next year as well.Grade: B-DL:Needs of the KSU system: Pass-rush from DE’s and DT, 2-gap/double team power from the NT to cover up their LB’s in the run game. KSU rarely blitzes and relies heavily on these guys up front.Takes:Elijah Lee: 6-3, 215. Blue Springs, MO (Blue Springs)CJ Reese: 6-4, 255. San Antonio, TX (James Madison)Terrell Clinkscales: 6-4, 315. Dodge City, KS (Dodge City, C.C.)Elijah Lee has some quickness and hips to grow into a solid pass-rusher but he’ll need to maintain those while adding weight to his frame. Good prospect but obviously not a sure thing. CJ Reese strikes me as an obvious spin down candidate who’s long limbs and decent (for a DE) quickness could translate into a really strong pass-rusher as a 3-tech DT.Clinkscales is the big coup. If you leave him 1-on-1 with a guard he will maul them and reset the point of attack on the wrong side of the line of scrimmage. He’ll have to be doubled to avoid pile-ups inside and even then he’s hard to move. Ideal KSU nose tackle. He’ll probably replace Chaquil Reed immediately and upgrade the Wildcat run D.Grade: B-LB:Needs of the KSU system: The ‘Cats take quickness at LB and don’t care as much about height or weight. They want guys who can run sideline to sideline and pursue the ball from the middle of the field. They have to be willing to stick their noses in the scrum but speed pursuing the ball and matching crossing receivers is the key. They play in Nickel 99% of the time and don’t sub to Dime.Takes:Sam Sizelove: 6-4, 229. Argyle, TX (Argyle)Justin Hughes: 6-1, 205. Tucker, GA (Tucker)Isaiah Riddle: 6-3, 230. Scottsdale, AZ (Scottsdale C.C.)Dvonta Derricott: 6-1, 230. Garden City, KS. (Garden City C.C.)Sizelove is a classic inside linebacker prospect who’s most prominent HS highlight is nearly killing Jake Raulerson on a punt return blindside hit. He’s explosive around the line of scrimmage and is one of the better pure Mike LB prospects I’ve seen. His length and quickness may allow him to be solid enough in coverage to play at LB for them but if not, he could spin down as a DE.Hughes has the backpedal and speed to erase receivers underneath in a pattern-matching scheme, which is ideal for the KSU D. I’m not sure if his grades have gotten him in yet but if he plays I see him growing into the weakside linebacker spot.Riddle is an explosive downhill player who will have value as a blitzer on 3rd down.
Derricott is the jewel of the LB class. He can match underneath patterns in coverage, gets small and is explosive as a blitzer, can run sideline to sideline, and gets his hands (made of stone though) on a lot of quick passes. I’m betting on him winning the vacant Mike position and racking up 80+ tackles in 2014.Grade: B+S/NB:Needs of the KSU system: KSU needs guys that are quick moving downhill or breaking on passes but they’ll line them up deep and play them over the top to avoid putting them in position where they have to flip their hips and run with receivers. Reading keys, running to the ball or a pass with speed and proper leverage, and making open field tackles is key.Takes:Kendall Adams: 6-1, 193. Ft. Worth, TX (All Saints Episcopal)Kaleb Prewett: 6-2, 197. Blue Springs, MO (Blue Springs)Prewett is the third Wildcat from a Blue Springs HS team that won multiple state championships and has also provided KSU with the scatback Warmack and future DE Elijah Lee. Prewett is the real deal as a Cover-2/4 safety. He’s very rangy on the back end of a defense and has the explosion in his hips to blow up ball carriers. I wouldn’t be shocked if he ran a 4.5. Potential Ty Zimmerman replacement here, in a few years.
Adams is the prototypical Wildcat safety. You don’t want to see him have to flip his hips and run with a vertical by a Baylor slot receiver but as long as the ball is in front of him he can play fast and physical. He can also play around the box.Grade: B-CB:Needs of the KSU system: Whereas Akina long had a “4 Corners” philosophy in recruiting defensive backs, taking players who had the athleticism to potentially play at corner, I like to jokingly refer to KSU’s D as a “4 Safeties” philosophy. They often play with a big cushion on the outside and close on the ball or wrap-up at cornerback. Occasionally they have a Nigel Malone who’s fast enough to bait throws and then pick them off but an Allen Chapman who simply plays to not get beat is more typical.Takes:Jesse Mack: 6-0, 180. Highland, KS (Highland C.C.)Danzel McDaniel: 6-2, 205. Dodge City, KS (Dodge City, C.C.)Mack is your typical KSU CB, although taller than many they’ve stuck out there. He’s not going to press and lock down anyone but he can play with a cushion and make tackles.McDaniel is a specimen and an interesting take for KSU. At the JUCO level he would get his hands on guys and totally destroy any hopes they had of getting into something resembling a pass pattern. His big frame and long arms made him an absolute demon in press coverage. He’s essentially a Cover-2 CB who can play run-force on the edge, match receivers underneath, or blitz. He showed some ability to turn and run with receivers, which is key to whether he can play at CB in the B12 but typically receivers couldn’t get free of his jams.I’ve not really seen KSU utilize a player like McDaniel so I’m not sure where he fits for them. Do they put him on the boundary to beat up big receivers with safety help? Teach him to play with a cushion? Play him in press on an island by himself? Move him to nickel? Even their nickel has often played with a 10 yard cushion so it’ll be interesting to see where he ends up. His physicality and tackling will make him an asset somewhere in the defensive backfield.Grade B-All in all, KSU loaded up with infrastructure pieces. They got the players they need to continue to field bafflingly (to all but you and I) effective anti-spread defense and lanky OL that can move around and execute all their run schemes.
The challenge for Snyder has typically been finding more than 1 player that can be featured in the offensive scheme so the most terrifying KSU class would have included one more offensive player likely to end up as a Wildcat RB, dual-threat QB, or deep-threat WR.
Warmack has great potential but I’m not sure if the WR class will produce another weapon that really terrifies anyone. They were this close had they landed Aaron Sharp to quietly having one of the league’s best classes.
Breakdown:JUCO: 9HS: 14KS: 7TX: 3MO: 3GA: 1CO: 2CA: 2NC: 1The Snyder/KSU talent pipeline is quite clever. They take advantage of their proximity to in-state JUCO programs to grab linemen will also mining the California JUCO system for athletes. They also do their homework evaluating local states and of course, talent-rich Texas. The nightmare would be if they manage to start regularly pulling athletic QB’s out of the Lone Star state. Again, they were close in 2014.Their proximity to midwestern JUCO’s is actually a solid advantage that provides them with a recruiting turf of sorts.Look out for KSU in 2014, their JUCO adds and returning starters make them a Big 12 title contender.