ARLINGTON, Texas — Daniel Sams admitted that he arrived in Manhattan with a preconceived idea of what college football was going to be like at Kansas State.
The star quarterback from Louisiana thought he was going to play right away and contend for a position that is now firmly occupied by junior Collin Klein.
“I was still immature coming into the college scene,” Sams said Sunday during Cotton Bowl media day at Cowboys Stadium. “I thought everything was just talent. I was going out there, like ‘yeah, I can do this and I can do that.’”
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound freshman quickly learned that he had some more growing to do before he was going to step onto the football field for the Wildcats.
“Now, I see it’s more film work,” said Sams, who redshirted and starred on the scout team this season. “Quarterback is more than a position. It’s a craft. I had to learn that I needed to spend more time in the film room than I do on the field.”
And a big part of the maturation process has involved the guy Sams wants to beat out for the starting job next season.
“Honestly, when I got here, I thought Collin would shove me to the side, but he was with me everyday — actually more than (quarterbacks) Coach (Del) Miller — working with me on everything.”
On the field, Sams said he’s still adjusting to the pro-style offense and playing under center. With that goes the ability to read defenses, something else Sams said he wasn’t prepared to do when he first arrived on campus.
“I’ve just been trying to learn,” he said. “I came from a high school where we ran the spread. I’m trying to learn the pro-style offense and Collin has helped me a lot, teaching me everything.
“I know the playbook real well, but Collin is working with me on how to get out of something, when I see something I don’t like up there, and into something better.”
As a senior at Salmen High School in Slidell, La., Sams passed for 577 yards and seven touchdowns, while rushing for 579 yards and nine scores. Sams also caught 21 passes for 518 yards and nine more TDs, as he totaled more than 3,000 all-purpose yards.
Sams acknowledges his early growing pains in the system, but lacks no self-confidence when it comes to his ability to run with the football. The versatile athlete even tried to switch positions this season just to get on the field sooner - of course with the idea of moving back to QB when the job opened up.
“I like to throw first, but I can usually make something happen with my feet,” said Sams, when asked what fans could expect from him on the field. “When I pull the ball down, I feel like I can make a play anytime with my feet. I’m really confident. I go against our first-team defense every day and I make plays against them.
“My confidence is steadily growing. I feel like I’ll be ready next year.”
Next year as a quarterback?
“I was trying to move to another position, but Coach (Bill) Snyder wasn’t having it,” Sams said. “I wanted to just until Collin leaves, but Coach Snyder wouldn’t let me do it. He told me to strive to beat out Collin and push him to be the best he can be. He thought that would be best for the team.”
The next step for Sams begins following the bowl game, as the spring football season nears.
“It’s really important because Coach Miller told me that my redshirt is almost over and now it’s time to get serious,” he said. “I’m going to push myself to beat out Collin. I know if I do that, it’ll just push him to play to the best of his ability.”