There was this kid that used to live in my neighborhood growing up, 4-5 years older than me but the kind of kid that everybody felt like they knew because he was such a great football player.
I remember being in 7th grade and my dad taking me to the local high school football games on Friday nights and telling me to just watch this kid – watch what he did and how he played and try to figure how someone his size could dominate like he did – a 6-foot-1, 200-pounder who was absolutely unstoppable wherever they put him on the field. Offense, defense, special teams …. didn’t matter.
His name was Nyle Wiren and he would go on to become one of the greatest pass rushers in Kansas State history, finishing his career with 27.5 sacks, including 11. 5 his senior year in 1996. I bring him up today because I see a lot of what made him so great in Kansas State defensive end Adam Davis, a 6-foot, 240-pound senior who transferred to play for the Wildcats from Hutchinson Community College. And, to that end, I see a lot of Wiren in K-State’s other 2 defensive ends, Ryan Mueller (6-1, 240) and Meshak Williams (6-3, 245), who was Davis’ teammate at Hutch.
The group has been solid through two games – what they need to be for the Wildcats to win – and shined in last Saturday’s 52-13 win over Miami in Manhattan. Davis had two sacks, Mueller recovered a fumble. As a unit, the Wildcats had five sacks. Williams and Davis are the starters and Mueller is their top backup. Here’s my story on the d-ends out of Tuesday’s football press conference in Manhattan.
“I’m in there just trying to survive, to create havoc,” Mueller said on Tuesday. “When Meshak and Adam need a rest or Joe Bob (Clements) thinks it’s a long-yardage situation and I might be able to get a sack, I’m in there.”
In the trenches, a lot of the time, the action is similar to that of a street fight where anything goes. Punching, pinching, kicking, slapping, scratching, clawing … you name it. To survive as undersized defensive linemen on the DI level, you’ve got to have some tricks and be completely unafraid of taking on players that can be up to six inches taller than you and outweigh you by 50-100 pounds. And that’s where this group excels. Davis, in particular, does a great job of exploding into offensive tackles after an upfield move. He’s strong enough that the initial blow can sometimes set up a secondary move that can get him to the quarterback. Williams, because of his height and wingspan, can alter a quarterback’s vision when he starts to close in. Mueller, who has even taken some snaps on the interior line, is the clean-up man.
It will be interesting to see how these three perform on Saturday against North Texas – the Wildcats are heavy favorites but the Mean Green has a decent-sized offensive line with some talent.