Snyder finds balance with new class

By Joshua Kinder

Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder used the word variety when describing his new recruiting class on Wednesday.

Such is the case, as K-State announced the addition of 26 new student-athletes, 20 of which are from the high school ranks and six from junior colleges, addressing virtually every position on the roster.

Snyder, as always wouldn’t attach a projection on his new class, as to just how good it may or may not be in the long run — saying, “we’ll wait and see.”

The 2012 class does have some high expectations to meet if it is going to live up to last season’s haul, however, as the 2011 group included seven starters on this season’s team that finished 10-3 and played in the Cotton Bowl last month.

“I think it takes us a couple years to define that,” Snyder said. “And you really don’t know. I’m certainly not smart enough to project whether it will be or won’t be a good class. But you look at last year’s class and we had (seven) starters this past year that came from last year’s recruiting class.

“So, based on that, you’d probably have to say it was a pretty successful recruiting class. But you don’t know that right now.”

Highlighting the new crop of Wildcats are several junior college transfers, who figure to be in the mix for immediate playing time this next season, including four-star receiver Marquez Clark from Navarro (Texas) Junior College.

Clark, who is rated as the No. 16 overall junior college player in the country by Rivals, set a NJCAA single-season record with 1,639 receiving yards this past season. The 6-foot, 180-pound receiver finished his two-year career at Navarro with 126 receptions for 2039 yards and 19 touchdowns.

“The numbers certainly tell you something — you can’t get that kind of yardage without having some skill,” Snyder said of Clark. “But it’s not so much that, as he has pretty good feet, runs well, good hands and has good knowledge of the game. And it looks like he understands the nuances of being able to play the position and how to run routes, understanding defensive schemes.

“But what I like, is that he seems to have a humble commitment toward becoming the best he can become with the willingness and discipline to do the things that are necessary to get where he wants to be.”

Snyder also addressed needs along the offensive and defensive lines with the additions of four JC transfers. K-State added offensive lineman Ellwood Clement, a 6-5, 310-pounder from Eastern Arizona, and Tavon Rooks (6-6, 270), an offensive tackle from Navarro who is ranked as the 23rd best junior college player in the country.

On the defensive side, the Wildcats got signatures from JC transfers Wesley Hollingshed (6-2, 300) — ranked No. 47 nationally — and Chaquil Reed (6-3, 290), who played at Butler, via Wichita East.

Both defensive linemen could be in the mix to make an immediate impact with the loss of Raphael Guidry, Ray Kibble and Jordan Voelker.

“That’s certainly up to them and how well they perform,” Snyder said. “I think they’re young guys who have a physical presence to them, have had some success at a little higher level. They’re a couple guys — certainly we’re looking for guys who can defend against the run, but also be formidable in the pass rush — that was important to us as well.”

K-State also took another quarterback in this class in Lincoln, Neb., product Tavarius Bender, who was rated as the top prospect from Nebraska. Bender, at 6-3, 210 pounds, was also rated as the No. 20 dual-threat quarterback in the country by Rivals after passing for 1,025 yards and rushing for 699 yards with 20 total touchdowns as a senior.

“I like the kind of person he is, his dedication, his commitment and his passion for the game and commitment to get better constantly and his willingness to learn,” Snyder said of Bender, who is already enrolled in spring classes. “He wants to be a sponge about the position he plays and he’s willing to spend his time trying to develop himself.”

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