MANHATTAN — Kansas State is looking forward to throwing the football more this fall, and it has two integral parts of the passing game that were hurt last season returning.
One player that didn’t have the injury bug was Wichita native Chris Harper, who led the Wildcats with 25 catches for 330 yards and four touchdowns as a possession receiver for the 7-6 Wildcats.
For Kansas State, which opens its season on Sept. 3 against Eastern Kentucky in a 6:10 p.m. kickoff at Bill Snyder Familly Stadium, passing was an eyesore last season. Because of inconsistency by the graduated Carson Coffman at quarterback and the effectiveness of first-team All-Big 12 Conference pick and two-time leading rusher Daniel Thomas, the Wildcats were prone to be a run-first, pass-second type of team. They ranked No. 9 in the old Big 12, averaging 179.3 yards per game through the air.
Junior quarterback Collin Klein wants that statistic to improve.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Klein said. “All of the wide receivers are all very hungry and healthy.
“When you put their desire and how hard they’re working with the athletic ability, hopefully they’ll continue to improve and we’ll see where we can go.”
With Harper returning, along with Brodrick Smith and Tremaine Thompson returning from injuries, it will be an experienced trio of returning wide receivers. They combined for 58 catches and 779 yards last season.
Those statistics are modest, yet would have been better had there not been the injuries to the aforementioned wideouts.
Smith, who played in high school at Garden City and one year at Minnesota before transferring to Kansas State, suffered a season-ending broken leg against Nebraska in the fifth game.
Thompson had a season-ending ankle injury against Baylor in Week 7.
Thompson established the fifth-best mark in school history for a freshman last season in receptions (19) and yards (258).
Smith, like Harper a senior, had 14 catches for 191 yards and three touchdowns before he went down with his injury.
“The first thing that was going through my head was the thought about missing playing time two years in a row,” said Smith, who sat out the 2009 season, in accordance with the NCAA transfer rule. “I’m moving a lot better than I was during the spring game, just because I had all summer just to train on being quicker and making cuts.
“I can’t even tell my leg was broken now. I’m back to the player I was (before the injury), if not better.”