Joe Ervin touchdown run

Kansas State's Joe Ervin (22) runs for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against Bowling Green in September. Ervin, a freshman running back, was suspended for last week's game against West Virginia. Head coach Chris Klieman said Ervin is back and will be ready to play on the road Saturday versus Texas Tech.

Joe Ervin didn’t travel with Kansas State for its loss at Texas on Nov. 9. Ervin, a true freshman running back, also missed last week’s home loss to West Virginia. But the most recent absence wasn’t because of an injury. It was because he was serving a suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

Now, Ervin is back in good graces.

“He’s reinstated,” K-State head coach Chris Klieman said during his weekly press conference Tuesday. “He served his penalty, and we’re fine with Joe from that respect.”

Though Klieman noted Ervin is fine health-wise, it’s not certain the tailback will play this week against Texas Tech, or the two games that follow (the regular-season finale versus Iowa State along with K-State’s bowl destination.) That’s because Ervin already has played in four games this season: Bowling Green, Baylor, TCU and Kansas. If he doesn’t appear in another game this fall, he’ll preserve his redshirt season. (Similar to what receiver Malik Knowles did last year.)

Ervin’s role the remainder of the season comes down to two factors, Klieman said.

James Gilbert. Jordon Brown.

If the pair of graduate transfer running backs are healthy enough to carry the load the final three games of the year, Ervin likely will sit. If not, Ervin’s redshirt will disappear.

“James did not practice (Monday),” Klieman said. “We hope he can today. Jordon did. So (the decision on Ervin’s playing time) is still based on that.”

Ervin has carried 23 times for 95 yards and a touchdown this season, with his score coming on a 6-yard run in the fourth quarter of K-State’s 52-0 blowout of Bowling Green on Sept. 7. Had he been healthy enough to play against the Longhorns, he likely would have added to those totals, as running backs coach Brian Anderson said Ervin had been part of the game plan until the injury forced him out.

To his credit, Gilbert said Ervin handled the suspension as well as one could expect.

“He’s been doing good. I’ve been talking to him,” Gilbert said Tuesday. “I’ve been in his ear, keeping him positive. It’s not fun when you’ve got to sit out a game and watch from the sideline. But I feel like he took it real well and he’ll be ready to go when we need him.”

Gilbert leans on his own experiences: remaining upbeat is critical.

“I just remember when I had to sit out when I was a younger guy, and I feel like mentally it’s hard not being able to play, not being able to help out your team,” Gilbert said. “But he’s staying positive. He’s got the right mindset, and he’ll be ready to go when his number is called.”

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