“Family” is a word that gets thrown around Kansas State and its athletic programs so often it almost becomes cliché.
That said, it’s a word that played a major part in the late commitment, and eventual signing of prized defensive tackle Terrell Clinkscales to the Wildcat football program.
“Since I met Coach (Bill) Snyder, Coach (Charlie) Dickey and Coach Mo (Latimore), it’s been all about family and all about school,” said Clinkscales, who changed his commitment from Nebraska to K-State just a few weeks ago.
“I just feel there’s much more of a family-vibe around K-State.”
It’s something Snyder said he strives to show every young player that comes into the program.
“We will do everything that we conceivably can, that is legal with the NCAA, the conference and with moral value to help that young person and his family,” Snyder said Wednesday, as K-State announced its 2014 recruiting class.
What Snyder and the Wildcats got out of the deal is a four-star, 6-foot-4, 315-pound defensive lineman.
Clinkscales is the second-ranked junior college defensive tackle in the country according to Rivals.com and 15th-best overall to come from junior college this season.
Clinkscales, facing nearly constant double-teams during his only full season at Dodge City Community College, racked up 40 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks while being named a second-team NJCAA All-American and first-team all-Jayhawk Conference selection.
A welcomed addition to an already star-studded defensive line that includes All-American Ryan Mueller and All-Big 12 selection Travis Britz.
“Man, I don’t know what to tell you,” Clinkscales said. “Coming out of the gate, next year I’m going to bring a spark that K-State hasn’t had.
“K-State already has some great linemen, but as far as interior linemen, next year I’m really going to dominate.”
While Snyder is unlikely to lavish that same type of praise on Clinkscales just yet, the 74-year-old coach sees Clinkscales, and the other eight junior college signees in the 2014 class all having the ability to get on the field very soon.
“I think every community college guy that we have we firmly believe that they have a chance to come in and compete immediately to help this program,” Snyder said. “With incoming freshmen, it’s over a period of time, but the community college guys, we’re talking about the immediate needs.”
Clinkscales helps headline a group that boasts four of Rivals’ top 50 junior college prospects, including linebacker D’vonta Derricott (No. 24), offensive lineman Luke Hayes (No. 47) and Clinkscales’ DCCC teammate, defensive back Danzel McDaniel (No. 50).
“He’s got an explosiveness in the interior that is game-changing,” said Pat Callahan, who was Clinkscales’ defensive coordinator at Dodge City. “At this point, it’s somewhat sporadic, as opposed to what I think it can and will be as he gets settled in.”
Callahan said Clinkscales is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential. That’s mainly due to a junior college career that includes his first school, Grand Rapids (Mich.) Community College, dropping its football program, Clinkscales sitting out from football for an entire season, and starting over at Dodge City last fall.
“He’s kind of had a broken road getting to where he is right now,” Callahan said.
Clinkscales hasn’t gone through a full offseason program with a team since he was in high school, and it’s that type of continuity that Callahan believes will benefit the big defensive tackle the most at K-State.
That won’t come until next offseason though, as Clinkscales will remain in Dodge City this spring to complete coursework before moving to Manhattan this summer.
The support that he’s received from K-State in his academic process is something Clinkscales said he is thankful for already.
“I’m not the perfect student, but I working on it,” said Clinkscales, who has a 2-year-old daughter Pa’Miyah, who will be accompanying him to Manhattan. “I’m trying to be the best student, best person I can be.”
A self-described “laid back, goofy guy” off the field, Clinkscales, compares his on-field personality to the Detroit Lions’ Ndamukong Suh.
“On the field, man, I can get nasty,” he said. “I definitely think I mold my game after that, watching him when I was growing up.”
Clinkscales said that, along with K-State’s commitment to helping him as a student, and the early commitment of his DCCC teammate McDaniel helped sway him in the direction of Manhattan.
“In the beginning, we would say we were going to go to the same school,” Clinkscales said. “Then I committed to Nebraska, and he was like ‘what happened? I thought you were going where I was going.’
“Then later, I kind of threw it back on him, switched, and we’re back together now.”
While McDaniel, who Callahan described as a bone-crushing hitter, will benefit from spring football in Manhattan, Clinkscales said his wait to arrive on campus will feel like an eternity. When he does arrive though, Clinkscales said the early-season tilt with 2013 national runner-up Auburn will be the perfect way to start his Wildcat career.
“Woo, man,” he said. “That’s definitely going to be one of the most exciting days of my life — probably one of the most nervous days of my life.
“It’s like I was just watching these guys play on TV… and now we’re on the same field.
“I’ll probably be revved up and have to calm down a little bit.”
That doesn’t mean to say that Clinkscales won’t be ready when the Tigers invade Manhattan in September.
“Hey, football is football to me,” he said. “That comes to me like getting’ out the bed.”