Wildcats set to take spring final exams today at 1:10 p.m.
MANHATTAN, Kan. The Kansas State Wildcats wrap up their initial preparations for the 2005 season with the annual Purple and White Spring Game at this afternoon at KSU Stadium.
The game, which can be heard live in Manhattan on KMAN (1350 AM) and KMKF (101.5 FM), is the last of 15 spring workouts for K-State and the final opportunity for players to engage in live competition before returning for preseason camp in August.
There will be plenty to watch for on both sides of the ball, as spirited competition has occurred within most of the position groups.
On offense, most eyes will be fixed on the running back spot, where a quartet of talented but untested players have been vying to fill the shoes of the position’s most dominant performer in school history - Darren Sproles.
Senior Carlos Alsup and junior Thomas Clayton were given the nods heading into spring drills and sat one-two atop the depth chart. Both should get plenty of touches today in an effort to take an early lead in the race.
Junior Donnie Anders and redshirt freshman Parrish Fisher have also been turning heads in workouts and are expected to get an opportunity to showcase their talents as well.
Interest at the quarterback position will also be running high this afternoon. Junior Dylan Meier, who opened the 2004 season under center and started six games en route to the third most productive passing season by a sophomore in K-State history, will not play today. That leaves the door wide open for junior Allen Webb and redshirt freshman Allan Evridge to make their respective cases for the No. 1 spot heading into the summer.
Both have shown solid growth and an increased command of the offense this spring, with Webb in particular becoming much more consistent in the passing game.
The fortunes of KansasState’s young offensive line should also merit plenty of attention during the scrimmage. No less than seven underclassmen are currently listed on the Wildcats’ depth chart in the trenches, with senior All-Big 12 prospect Jeromey Clary back as the only returning starter of a group that, from all indications, appears to be ripe with potential.
Sophomore John Hafferty and junior Greg Wafford saw very limited action a year ago. The rest of the unit, including mid-year transfer Mike Friesen, is still waiting for their first taste of game action and a chance to test their mettle.
With three returning starters back on the outside, K-State’s primary wide receiver corps of juniors Jermaine Moreira and Yamon Figurs and senior Davin Dennis appears to have the Wildcats in good hands. Still, the emergence of defensive back-turned-receiver Jordy Nelson along with Toney Coleman and Jesse Martinez should be fun to watch.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Wildcats possess the benefit of experience in every position group. However, today’s Purple and White Spring Game should be just as intriguing with a number of fresh faces making their public debuts.
Up front, veterans Scott Edmonds, Derek Marso, Quintin Echols and Tearrius George are already household names. But a bevy of youthful newcomers will be out to make their own marks and serve notice that they plan to be in the mix for serious playing time when preseason camp opens.
On the ends, freshman Ian Campbell and junior Blake Seiler are a pair of high-energy walk-ons that have consistently climbed the depth chart and could be on the verge of staking a claim in the Wildcats’ rotation. Inside, look for redshirt freshmen Jordan Bedore and Alphonso Moran to make some noise.
Plenty of experience returns at linebacker and the Wildcats will be expecting huge strides in this department with four battle-tested veterans back for 2005. Brandon Archer, coming off an outstanding sophomore campaign, is expected to hold down the strong side, with a now-completely-healthy senior Ted Sims set to patrol the middle along with senior Marvin Simmons.
The weak side has a few more question marks. Senior Matt Butler, an on-again, off-again starter over the past two seasons, mostly in the middle, will likely be in the mix here once the season rolls around. However, he will be extremely limited today, which should give sophomores Marcus Perry and Greg Gaskins, among others, an excellent opportunity to show their stuff.
The Wildcat secondary may present the most intrigue on the defensive side of the ball with as many as eight different players rotating through with the No. 1 unit.
Senior Jesse Tetuan, who could see time at both safety spots, possesses the most experience with 29 starts under his belt. But he has received a stiff challenge for playing time at free safety from wide receiver-convert and 2004 special teams co-MVP Marcus Watts, while junior Maurice Mack and Surrell Davis have battled at strong.
Junior Kyle Williams has been in the mix at two secondary spots throughout the spring. Expect to see him at both cornerback and free safety today as he competes for playing time after redshirting a year ago.
Joining the battle for playing time on the corners will be senior Maurice Porter and sophomores Byron Garvin and Bryan Baldwin. Porter had a solid spring game a year ago, but did not begin contributing on a regular basis last year until the season’s final four games. Garvin and Baldwin have been steady on special teams, but have yet to make their mark with the first team defense.
Besides running back, the second biggest shoes to fill just may be at place-kicker, where Jeff Snodgrass, Tim Schwerdt and Jared Parker will be out to step in for the ever-steady Joe Rheem. The strong-legged Snodgrass, who blasted his only kickoff of last season out of the end zone vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, entered spring practice with a slight edge at the position and will be out to maintain that advantage today.
Tim Reyer, one of the nation’s top freshmen punters a year ago after averaging 42.4 yards per boot, was granted a scholarship during the offseason and appears to have the punting spot sewn up.
And it’s one of the few spots that is, as this year’s Purple and White Spring game promises to provide as much intrigue across the board as any in recent memory.