Deante Burton thought Joe Schartz was a tough football coach at Manhattan High.
Now he knows just how good he had it when he played for the Indians.
As a freshman at Kansas State last season, the receiver was coached by Michael Smith, who is now at Arkansas.
Now that Burton has had a chance to work with his new receivers coach — Andre Coleman — he said it’s become even tougher.
“Coach Coleman is definitely the toughest coach I’ve ever had in my life,” Burton said. “Going from Coach Schartz — a hard-nosed, tough guy — to coach Smith, who I’ve always been close to, (Coleman) is just tough.
“He told me one thing that will stick with me the rest of my life, and that’s, ‘I’m not going tell you how good you are, I’m going to tell you how good you can be.’ “He’s coached me in ways he can never understand. He’s coaching me to be perfect, not just better.”
Burton, who could contribute to the offense this season, is one of four former Manhattan High players on the Wildcats’ roster.
Junior linebacker Tate Snyder has battled injuries and been working with the practice squad at K-State. Taylor Hilgers, a freshman defensive back, walked on this season. Joining his former MHS teammate is offensive lineman Jason Lierz, who redshirted at Hutchinson Community College a year ago and transferred to K-State in the offseason.
Burton has a shot to replace K-State’s leading receiver from last season in Chris Harper, being one of the few receivers on the roster with the combination of size and speed desired at that position.
Coleman said the key for all three of the guys vying for that spot is to learn how to use their size like Harper did.
“Torrell Miller and Kyle Klein, along with Deante Burton — all those guys have some size to them,” he said. “And like I told those guys, they have to be able to use that size to their advantage,. Most defensive backs that they go against, they’re probably going to have a size advantage on them.”
Burton said he used his redshirt year in the program to take in as much information as he could, learning from guys like Harper, who is now in his first year with the Seattle Seahawks.
Burton said he also learned a lot from watching Miller, who has helped the former two-way star use his body and size to his advantage. But it really was a team effort getting him ready to contribute this season, Burton said, working with the Wildcats’ go-to receivers in Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett, as well as time in the weight room.
“My game has definitely developed,” he said. “That redshirt year was crucial. It allowed guys like Tramaine and Lockett to help me develop my game. I definitely think it has grown a large amount and hopefully I can keep developing into a dominant receiver at Kansas State.”
Although Burton might be competing against guys with similar games to his, he said he hopes he can be a little bit different than Klein and Miller.
“Something I hope to do is be a hybrid,” he said. “Be a fast guy that can go up and get the ball, or maybe a big guy that can run inside and maybe make an awkward matchup for a linebacker or something.
“I think both of those guys are big, tall-type guys. I think something I have that is a little bit different is my athleticism. I think that’s something maybe different from those guys.”
While the Wildcats have yet to pick a new quarterback this season — sophomore Daniel Sams or junior college transfer Jake Waters — Burton has bonded with one of the guys off the field.
Burton, who is Waters’ neighbor, said it’s been a lot of fun living so close to the new arrival competing for the job, especially after getting to know Sams last year.
“We live right next to each other — he lives downstairs and I live upstairs in the apartments — and we hang out all the time,” he said. “We hang out with Tramaine and Lockett — those goofy guys — so we have a good time.
“I think it’s good that we get out and bond away from football. We spend so much time here that it’s good to branch out and get out into the community.”