Dylan Schellenberg ready to step in for Zimmerman

By Joshua Kinder

Dylan Schellenberg doesn’t have a bio in the Kansas State football media guide.

The junior is mentioned only twice in the 208-page book — once on a list of 2012 redshirts and then on the main roster, along with another 130 or so names, many of which you’ve never heard of, either.

But it’s about time you become a little more familiar with the former Butler County safety. After all, he’s the guy replacing the injured Ty Zimmerman in what looks to be a more permanent move the rest of the season — at least according to his teammates.

“We want to play for him,” K-State fullback Glenn Gronkowski said Tuesday. “He’s done so much for this program — he’s from here and always made this community proud. We definitely want to go out and play for him.

“It’s a huge loss.”

Zimmerman, K-State’s All-America starting free safety the past four years, suffered a right leg injury in the first half this past week against TCU and did not return to the field — instead he stood on the sideline with crutches in the second half.

It’s the second time in two years the Junction City native left the game against the Horned Frogs. A year ago, Zimmerman missed the final two regular-season games with an ankle injury before returning seven weeks later against Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.

K-State coach Bill Snyder wouldn’t say Tuesday if Zimmerman is indeed out for the season. It came as no surprise, but the longtime Wildcat coach didn’t say much of anything when it came to his defensive leader’s status.

In fact, Snyder went an entirely different direction when asked if Zimmerman would walk onto the field in pads this weekend for senior day against Oklahoma, or if he’d still be on crutches.

“We’re going to parachute him in,” he quipped.

Though that would make for quite the senior day sendoff, the free safety spot appears to be Schellenberg’s when the Wildcats line up against the Sooners on Saturday for an 11 a.m. kickoff on Fox Sports 1.

The former redshirt from Maize recorded two tackles in Zimmerman’s absence last Saturday and played reasonably well, despite getting beat on a long touchdown pass down the middle of the field in the second half.

“I did some good things, but I did a lot of bad things,” said Schellenberg, who collected three tackles a week earlier at Texas Tech when Zimmerman left the game briefly with a minor shoulder injury. “I have a lot of stuff to improve on. You can always do better.”

Schellenberg has waited a long time to hear his named called. He redshirted a year ago after earning Second-Team All-Jayhawk Conference honors as a sophomore at Butler. The 6-foot, 189-pound defensive back recorded 59 tackles and three interceptions that season, while also forcing three fumbles.

Prior to Butler, Schellenberg starred at Maize High where he collected 147 stops and six interceptions as a three-year starter.

Schellenberg said he’s always practiced as if he was going to start, but hates to see his time come at the expense of Zimmerman.

“I always practice like I’m going to play because you never know when you’re going to get in,” he said last Saturday. “I just have to perform under any circumstances.

“You hate to see it happen this way, but it’s good to be able to get out there and contribute.”

A year ago it was Dante Barnett who filled in for Zimmerman, who took on the role of coach for the young safety. And if Zimmerman is truly done, the same can be expected this season — one reason he wanted to be on the sidelines in the second half last week.

“He’s a teammate and he knows so much — he’s almost like a coach out there,” Schellenberg said. “I ask him about everything. He helps me out a lot.

“It always helps having him out there contributing any way he can.”

Mueller a semifinalist for Burlsworth Trophy

K-State junior defensive end Ryan Mueller was one of 10 players nationally to be named a semifinalist for the Burlsworth Trophy as the most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on, the Burlsworth Foundation announced Tuesday.

Mueller is the second Wildcats to be named a semifinalist in as many years, joining center B.J. Finney.

A former 2010 walk-on, Mueller ranks fifth nationally in sacks with 10.5 and seventh in tackles for loss with 16. He leads the Big 12 in both categories. Mueller is tied for sixth in K-State history in single-season sacks and one away from tying the school record owned by Nyle Wiren (1996) and another former walk-on in Ian Campbell (2006).

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