After months of competition between Jake Waters and Daniel Sams,Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has picked his quarterback.
Snyder announced Monday during the Big 12 coaches teleconference that Waters will be the starter when the Wildcats host North Dakota State this Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Although Waters will take the majority of the snaps, Snyder also indicated Sams will “likely” play as well.
Snyder said Waters separated himself by being consistent and becoming a leader.
“Two things were evident,” he said. “Jake just displayed more consistency in all the areas we’ve talked about in terms of managing the offense, and being able to provide the kind of leadership we want as well as the actual physical aspect of it.”
Waters arrived on campus in January after leading Iowa Western to the NJCAA national title and being named the National Junior College Offensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot-1 junior passed for more than 3,500 yards and 39 touchdowns, completing a JUCO record 73.3 percent of his passes.
Snyder said Waters, who is tasked with replacing Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein, put in the time and effort to compete for the job from Day 1.
“We were fortunate to have him here at mid-term last year so he was able to go through the workout program,” he said. “He’s invested himself in his preparation of learning the system. I think he truly worked at it extremely hard and did above and beyond what was asked of him, most of it on his own time.”
When the Wildcats came out of spring practices, Snyder said he was looking for a quarterback who had both the physical and mental attributes needed to lead the team. K-State was also looking for a quarterback that showed the capability to run and pass.
Both quarterbacks showed the ability to do those two things during the spring game, but as Snyder looked toward the season opener, Waters wound up being the guy.
Snyder said Waters, at least at this point, has shown the capability as a leader among his teammates.
“He gained the respect, which you can’t lead if you don’t have the respect of others,” he said. “(He did it) by his consistent approach to the game, by spending so much time working at it and developing his mental aspect of the game. And I have a great appreciation for Daniel because he’s been a great asset to Jake and still is.”
Sams is the Wildcats’ only returning quarterback who played a year ago, having rushed 32 times for 235 yards and three touchdowns. He was 6-of-8 passing for 55 yards.
Just how much Sams will see the field on Friday night is unknown. Snyder said he could take anywhere from five to 50 snaps.
What Snyder likes the most about his current quarterback situation is that he has two guys ready to go at anytime.
“I like the idea of having two young guys that can play the position with somewhat equal skill level,” Snyder said. “Even though there is somewhat of a difference in their game.”