Saturday’s clash with No. 23 Texas has plenty on the line for the Kansas State football team.
The implications for K-State’s postseason and league championship have taken the forefront in what is typically an important game no matter what the team’s record is.
Saturday will mark the final home game for 27 seniors on the Wildcat roster, and is likely to give an emotional charge to the Wildcats as they try and win their 11th game of the year.
For most of the group, this class represents a full-circle transformation from the lowly beginning of head coach Bill Snyder’s return to the K-State sideline to the back-to-back 10-win team taking the field now.
“We’ve been here from the start, back when we were terrible and then went to the Pinstripe Bowl and all that,” senior receiver Chris Harper said. “So we’re the guys that have been trying to build it back up to what it was and set the example. It means a lot. I wanted to come back and play for a Kansas team and build something back up to what it was like before I got here. It makes it that much more special for me and guys like Braden Wilson and Anthony Cantele who are from Kansas, born and raised.”
While most players admitted that taking the field at Bill Snyder Family Stadium for the last time will be an emotional experience, Harper is focused on the bigger picture for this season.
“It’s not my last game, so I’m not going to be emotional or anything,” he said. “But it’s a big game though. It’s bigger than just being my last game at home, it’s for a Big 12 championship.”
While quarterback Collin Klein has even more experience rebuilding K-State, representing the fifth-year senior class that was recruited and coached by Ron Prince, he expects Saturday to be hard.
“I think it’s going to be an emotional day for me,” he said. “I know, just even being around here now — this is my fifth year — you see a lot of players enter and exit in their tenure and now my time has come in that sense, and that’s not an easy thing. I have so many fond memories of my time here. It’s going to be hard. I can’t even put into words how special it has been.”
For Klein, the important part of Saturday will be how his team finishes.
“Being able to finish on a good note as a team, obviously with a win,” he said. “And being able to play the best I possibly can play. It means a lot, it’s a special day, and I — and we — definitely want to finish strong. That’s what we’ve been telling ourselves all week, is to finish strong.”
Not having been through a senior night as a college football player, senior linebacker Arthur Brown admitted he doesn’t know what to expect on Saturday.
“I really can’t anticipate what it will be like,” he said. “I know there will be a lot of emotion felt, having my parents there as well right by my side, playing my last home game in front of our great fan support.”
Brown said he is blessed to be apart of this team that has helped him grow both as a person and a player.
“It’s been a growing process,” he said. “It’s a process of realization, just so much about myself and about others. I’ve grown from it and I’ve had the opportunity to see others grow from it as well.”
As for what he plans to tell Snyder when he walks down the ramp, he said he hadn’t thought much about it.
But his Snyder-esque comment just about summed up the difference between the Prince era and Snyder’s.
“I take it one day at a time,” Brown said. “I’m sure it will be a great moment.”