The post-Collin Klein era is in full-force.
After a winter of offseason conditioning and deep into spring football drills, the Kansas State Wildcats are in the final days of preparations, gearing for the annual Purple/White scrimmage, which is set for Saturday, April 27, at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1:10 p.m.
Kansas State, coming off a Big 12 championship and subsequent BCS berth in the Fiesta Bowl, has many voids to fill from a memorable 11-2 campaign.
Perhaps the biggest void seems to be at quarterback, where Klein, as a senior, built on a banner junior season by leading the Wildcats to their third conference championship in school history, joining the 2003 and 1934 Kansas State teams.
Klein, who faces an uncertain future with the upcoming NFL draft, was present when the Wildcats held their first scrimmage earlier this month, taking everything in from the sideline and giving tips to the speedy Daniel Sams, his understudy last season.
Junior-college transfer Jake Waters is battling Sams for the starting quarterback position.
Sams, a 6-foot-2, 204-pound sophomore-to-be, and Waters are splitting repetitions with the first team this spring, vying for the post vacated by Klein, who passed for 2,490 yards and 15 touchdown passes while rushing for 890 yards and 22 touchdowns.
“Collin was there for the first spring scrimmage and he was in my ear as I was on the sideline, telling me what was good and what wasn’t, so he is still that coach,” Sams said of cerebral Klein during a press conference on Thursday in Manhattan.
Waters threw for 3,501 yards in quarterbacking Iowa Western to a National Junior College Athletics Association national championship last season, beating Butler in the title game.
“I love it,” Sams said of the competition with Waters. “I can never take a day off, and with Collin, it was the same way. We just have been helping each other out, taking snaps with the first team, so it is not really a dog-eat-dog competition.
“We are just trying to get better as a team.”
Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder, who was named as the Big 12 Coach of the Year last season, like always, prefers to have balance on offense.
“The potential to be more balanced is certainly there, but that is always our intent,” Snyder said. “If we throw it once, we’re going to run it once, If we throw it 20 times, we’re going to run it 20 times.
“We are going to prepare as a balanced football team on offense. The game itself dictates exactly what is going to take place. Balance gives us the opportunity to have a more complete package, so that we don’t have to totally rely just on the running game or the passing game.”
Sams said he is still trying to develop an intuitive nature with his receivers. He rushed for 235 yards in 32 carries and three touchdowns last season as a redshirt freshman. He also completed 6 of 8 passes for 55 yards.
“I’ve been working hard on my skills,” he said. “As far as getting the timing down with Tramaine (Thompson) and (Tyler) Lockett, I wasn’t really throwing to those guys a lot last year because they were Collin’s receivers.
“So we are just focusing on getting the timing down and the chemistry right.”
Lockett had 44 receptions for 687 yards and four touchdowns last season as a sophomore while doubling as one of the nation’s top kick returners.
Thompson caught 37 balls for 526 yards and four TDs a year ago as a junior.
Notes — Tickets for the annual Purple/White game, which will be aired live on K-StateHD.TV, are general admission and priced at $5 while children under 2 will be admitted at no charge. ... Due to the construction of the West Stadium Center, only lower-level seating in the east and south bowls (Sections 13-19 and 20-28) will be open, and fans are asked to park in the East stadium lots to avoid construction traffic on the west side. Parking is free and will open at 10:00 a.m., while all East gates to the stadium will open at 11:45 a.m. ... Football season-ticket holders who renewed their season tickets prior to the March 29 early-bird deadline were mailed two complimentary spring game tickets per account. ... K-State students who order their student pass on iSIS prior to April 26 will be able to pick up a free ticket prior to the game on the east side of the stadium at Gate T. Students who have not bought a student pass may purchase a spring game ticket for $5. ... To purchase tickets, visit k-statesports.com or call the K-State Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800-221-CATS. The east-side ticket booth at the stadium will also be open on Gameday, starting at 10 a.m.