For the second consecutive year, Sammy Wheeler won’t make it to the end of Kansas State’s season healthy.
K-State head coach Chris Klieman announced Tuesday that Wheeler, a third-year sophomore tight end, will miss the rest of the Wildcats’ 2020 campaign after fracturing his clavicle in last week’s loss to Oklahoma State.
“Unfortunately his season is cut short again,” Klieman said. “I feel awful for him because he was doing some really good things.”
Klieman said Wheeler’s injury occurred on his lone contribution to the stat sheet against the Cowboys: a 58-yard reception in the fourth quarter. It marked K-State’s longest pass play in the game. The Wildcats just were waiting on the perfect opportunity to call it.
“There was a play we threw to Jax (Dineen) in the first half where Jax got pushed out of bounds and Sammy was open on the same play,” Klieman said. “I think we kind of put it in our memory bank to say that we need to go back to that. We came back to it at the right time.”
K-State’s coaching staff “anticipated Sammy being open” on the play after watching Iowa State have success on a similar call against Oklahoma State earlier this season.
“It was a variation of that. We were able to catch them on the over route for a big play,” Klieman said. “It was a good job. We probably could’ve even come back to it a little bit more often.”
Wheeler finishes this season with seven receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown. After redshirting as a freshman in 2018, he had four catches for 78 yards — including a 39-yard reception on the road against Oklahoma State — in seven games last year. His 2019 campaign ended prematurely as well, as he tore his ACL in K-State’s 38-10 win at Kansas.
“Unfortunately for Sammy, he just hasn’t been able to stay healthy,” Klieman said, “and it’s an awful thing because he’s playing well.”
Freshman quarterback Will Howard, who connected with Wheeler on the 58-yard pass, was crestfallen when he heard his teammate wouldn’t suit up again this fall.
“Sammy is a heck of a player and that’ll be a big loss for us. Best wishes to him,” Howard said. “I’ll be trying to do what I can to help him. It definitely is a tough loss.”