Bill Snyder said Daniel Sams has to be on the field, but that he needs to find the right position.
This spring, that’s at wide receiver — not quarterback.
“The dialogue I had with Daniel was ‘I want you to be happy and I want to see you on the field,’” the Kansas State coach said Tuesday during the Wildcats’ first press conference of the spring. “Because he approached me about playing as a wide receiver, I made my recommendations to him, but I said I would certainly abide by his and give him a chance.”
Sams was part of a two-quarterback system for the better part of last season with Jake Waters. But as Waters settled into the position down the stretch — with Sams’ playing time fading — it became clear that Sams’ best bet to get on the field and stay there in the future might be at another position.
“I told Daniel if he wants to try his hand wide receiver that I would certainly give him the opportunity,” Snyder said. “He’s growing. From a learning standpoint, he understood all the schemes so he knew assignments for wide receivers. What he didn’t understand was the execution and how to go about doing it and that’s what he’s learning right now.
“It’s a work in progress, but we’re giving him the opportunity and he’s made some headway. I think he feels and coach (Andre) Coleman feels and I feel that he can be competitive in that arena.”
As a quarterback, the junior-to-be completed better than 73 percent of his passes for 452 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions, while rushing for another 807 yards and 11 scores.
At receiver Sams looks to compete at an otherwise crowded position headlined by seniors Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton, with several others like Deante Burton, Andre Davis and Judah Jones on the rise.
“There are a lot of places Daniel can play,” Snyder said. “But if he wants to go out and be a wide receiver, he needs to go out and be a wide receiver and let reality set in… He has proven he is not going to be bad there…
“He could play any of the (skill positions), I think. He could be a running back, a wide receiver, quarterback, any of those positions because he’s pretty good with the ball in his hands. We’ve seen that.”
Burton, sophomore from Manhattan, said Sams’ athleticism has already helped in his transition to the new position, culminating April 26 with the annual spring game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
“I think he’s got a few tips and tricks to learn, but he’s a tremendous playmaker,” Burton said. “His athleticism is among the best in the country — it’s not as natural as quarterback — but it’s something that’s coming along for him pretty easy.”
Sams may be getting reps at receiver right now, but he’s still listed as a quarterback on the roster and depth chart. The Slidell, La., native may very well play receiver in the fall, but it shouldn’t come as a shock if he’s also the unofficial backup QB as well. The only other quarterbacks on the roster are inexperienced sophomore Joe Hubener and redshirt-freshman Jesse Ertz.
“Right now (Sams) is just focused on the wide receiver position,” Snyder said, “That doesn’t eliminate anything, but if he wants to play there then I want to give him the best opportunity and the best opportunity is to not spread him too thin.”
Snyder in for long haul?
Snyder is beginning his sixth season back on the sidelines after a three-year retirement following the 2005 season. But Snyder will turn 75 in the fall and he’s already the oldest active college football coach.
So how much longer will Snyder go?
“I don’t know,” he said. “Whether it will be a day, a month, a year, five years, I don’t know. I don’t know how well thought out it will be. It probably should be well thought out, but I don’t know if I’ll get to the point of thinking it through that way. I can’t say I haven’t tried, but I haven’t come up with the right answer.
“I don’t think there’s a magic number to it. As I’ve said before, if I can’t be of benefit to the young people in our program the way I should be and the way I’m supposed to be, that will be the determining factor.”