TEMPE, Ariz. — Daniel Sams may have played his last game at quarterback.
The Kansas State sophomore accounted for 23 yards of total offense in the Wildcats’ 31-14 victory over Michigan Saturday night in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium.
Sams’ bowl performance marks the end of an up-and-down season for the dynamic backup quarterback.
Though Sams was productive, it wasn’t the season he envisioned for himself a year ago when he backed up Collin Klein. It wasn’t even close.
Sams thought this would be the first of three years as K-State’s starting quarterback. All that changed, though, when Waters, a big-armed junior college quarterback, arrived on campus ready to compete for the top job last winter.
Waters won the starting job in the fall and despite a few bumps in the road himself, managed to finish the season strong — passing for 2,469 yards and 18 touchdowns.
With Waters seemingly having a stranglehold on the starting job for next season, Sams’ future with the Wildcats doesn’t seem so clear anymore.
The sophomore shared the job with Waters all season, but hasn’t started a single game. Until recently, it was a pretty even split in playing time — both doing what they do best to help the Wildcats get back over .500 and in the chase for a bowl game.
But Sams only saw the field for five plays in the Wildcats’ final two regular season games — three plays against Oklahoma and two against Kansas — all runs totaling minus-10 yards.
“It’s tough because we came here to play and if I’m not getting the opportunity, it bothers me,” Sams said this week. “The whole situation, Jake coming in, him getting the starting spot, us switching in and out — it’s hard.”
It bothers Sams so much that he’s considering a request to change positions in the offseason, likely to wide receiver.
“When that time comes, I’ll have a sit down with Coach (Bill) Snyder and talk about my future and what I could do to get on the field,” said Sams, who doesn’t think he’s durable enough to play running back. “I want to see what’s on his mind, too.”
It’s a conversation Snyder is open to having.
“What happens after we conclude this season is something that will be assessed and evaluated during the next month or so,” he said Friday. “We’ll move on from there.
“Daniel is a very athletic young guy. The reason’s he’s playing is because he deserves to play. He’s done well. He’s made improvement during the course of the year. It’s significant to have him on the field. I think it’s important. That certainly would be a major topic of conversation for us.”
Sams believes he can be a playmaker for the Wildcats. He’s already shown how dangerous he can be with the ball in his hands — totaling 807 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground, to go along with another 452 passing yards and four scores.
“I’m a team player,” said Sams, who rushed for a career-high 199 yards and three touchdowns against Baylor this season. “I just want to help my team any way I can. I think I can do that a lot of different ways.”
Sams just prefers that to be on the field and not on the sideline as a cheerleader. Through all of it, though, the Slidell, La., native said he’s tried to maintain a positive attitude.
“I just try to stay close to my teammates, help coach them, see what they’re seeing and talk to Jake constantly — that’s my role,” he said. “I just try to keep myself in the game, somehow, if I’m not playing.
“It is frustrating, but I try to keep that to myself and try not to let other people see it on the field. I can’t have a temper tantrum out there. That’s not what I’m about at all. I don’t want to pull the team apart — some guys choosing this quarterback, other guys choosing the other quarterback.”
For what its worth, the other quarterback — Waters — completed 21 of 27 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday night.