Monthly Archives: April 2013

Robert Rose hopes a big spring game will lead to a big season


Robert Rose had trouble sleeping the night before Kansas State’s spring game.

With starting running back John Hubert sidelined by an undisclosed injury (he could be seen walking with a limp) the seldom-used senior knew he was going to receive the bulk of the carries for the Purple Team. The opportunity excited him, and he took advantage of it by rushing for 141 yards and a touchdown on 17 touches.

His best run came on a 33-yard gain up the left side, but he looked good all afternoon against K-State’s overmatched second-string defense. Rose has played well in the spring game before, but he thinks this performance was a sign of things to come. He expects to take on a bigger role next season.

“I sure hope so. That would be great,” Rose said. “But I will just keep improving, go back and look at the spring game. Even though I did some things well I feel like I could have done some things better. Just go back and look at film and look and see what I can improve on and use this summer to propel me to a situation where I can say, ‘Now I feel like I should be playing somewhere in this offense.’ And they will fit me in the offense.”
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K-State fullback Glenn Gronkowski shows promise, toughness during spring game


While his older brother was making headlines during his visit to Manhattan over the weekend, Glenn Gronkowski was showing Kansas State fans what he may be capable of next season.

The redshirt freshman fullback was one of the Wildcats’ top young performers at the spring game on Saturday.

Gronkowski, who served as the first-string fullback for the Purple Team, rushed for 19 yards on four carries and caught two passes for 16 yards and a touchdown. He showed both promise and toughness while making two highlight plays.

The first came on a third-and-one, when he took a handoff up the middle and muscled his way through a pile of tacklers for a first down.

The second was an eight-yard catch and run for a touchdown. On the play, he caught a pass from Jake Waters just short of the end zone and absorbed a hard hit near the goal line. The would-be tackler fell back, but Gronkowski stayed vertical and sauntered in for a touchdown.
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After going undrafted, Collin Klein excited to sign free-agent deal with Houston Texans


Collin Klein hoped he would get selected in the NFL Draft, but when it didn’t happen the former Kansas State quarterback remained confident about his NFL future — for good reason.

Interested teams began calling as soon as the draft ended, and he was quickly presented with several quality options.

After evaluating them with his family and his agent, he decided to sign a free-agent contract with the Houston Texans.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Klein said by phone. “I’m so happy to be able to compete and be a Texan.”

Klein will soon travel to Houston and compete for a roster spot at the team’s rookie camp. He said the Texans are interested in him as a quarterback, the position where he led K-State to 21 victories the past two seasons and was a Heisman Trophy finalist last season.

Many have doubted his ability to play quarterback at the next level, but he will soon get the opportunity.

“I think the coaching staff is excellent and I really feel like it’s where I need to be,” Klein said of the Texans organization. “I’m so thrilled and so excited to sink my teeth into the playbook and get working and get going.”

Former K-State football players find NFL homes during and after draft

By now, you probably know Arthur Brown is the newest linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens.

You likely also know Chris Harper is on his way to the Seattle Seahawks.

Odds are you heard about the Kansas City Chiefs drafting Braden Wilson in the sixth round.

By the way, Wilson had a good quote about Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder preparing him for the NFL: “He is very demanding of time and effort. What he demands from you is as much as you’ll see from anybody. I’m fortunate enough to have been through his programs. I’ll be ready for the next level.”

But you might not know where K-State’s other NFL hopefuls that were passed over in the draft ended up. That’s where this blog comes in. Below is a list of former Wildcats that signed free-agent contracts Saturday evening. I will update it throughout the night when I hear of new signings.

Collin Klein
When he went undrafted, many labeled Klein as the top college player heading into the free-agent market. After all, he was a Heisman Trophy finalist last season and led K-State to 21 wins during his final two years. Several teams were likely interested in his services, but he chose the Houston Texans.
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Former K-State assistant Brad Underwood thrilled to take over at Stephen F. Austin

One of the most fascinating conversations I had with Brad Underwood while he was as an assistant at Kansas State revolved around his decision to leave Daytona Beach Community College for K-State.

He enjoyed being a head coach at the junior college level, living near the beach and working for people who never told him no. But he left that all behind to become the director of basketball operations for the Wildcats in 2006. The new title wasn’t as glamorous, but he was heading home (the McPherson native is a K-State alum) and he was getting the chance to work with Bob Huggins and Frank Martin. Ultimately, he thought the move would help him reach his dream of becoming a head coach at the Division I level.

Seven years later, his plan paid off. Underwood is the new head coach at Stephen F. Austin, a mid-major team that won the Southland Conference, beat Oklahoma and went 27-5 last season.

Underwood was introduced at a news conference earlier this week, and has been working around the clock since. But he was nice enough to talk about his new gig during a short lunch break. Below are the highlights of the conversation.
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Tanner Lancona to visit K-State

Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber’s search for a big man to add to the Wildcats’ 2013 recruiting class recently took him to California, where he talked with 6-foot-9 power forward Tanner Lancona for more than one hour during an in-school visit.

The chat apparently left an impression on Lancona. His father, Sean, says K-State is now one of four schools Lancona is considering. Lancona will take an official visit to K-State next weekend (May 3-5).

He is also considering St. Louis, which he will visit this weekend, along with Colorado State and BYU.

Here is Lancona’s recruiting profile at ESPN.com. Here is one of his highlight videos. The Tesoro High School big man originally signed with Washington State, but the school released him from his National Letter of Intent last month for what was classified as a “mutual decision.” Lancona’s father said college coaches have been calling him non stop since.

Lancona averaged 19 points and eight rebounds as a high school senior. He has the ability to score inside and shoot from the perimeter.

K-State could use another post player after the transfer of Adrian Diaz. Thomas Gipson, D.J. Johnson and newcomer Neville Fincher are the only big men currently on the roster.

Photo Blog: Construction at Snyder Family Stadium progressing ahead of schedule

Construction at Bill Snyder Family Stadium is ahead of schedule, and you can already see the progress that has been made on the new football press box.

Kansas State athletic director John Currie took a handful of media members on a tour of the stadium, which is currently undergoing a $75 million renovation. When construction is complete, K-State will have a state-of-the-art press box that spans the length of the football field and offers fans added club-level seating, suites, wider concourses, larger restrooms and much more space to meet and move around during games.

I took photos from every level and angle of the new structure, but before we get to them here are a few noteworthy items about the stadium construction:

– Construction costs will exceed the original $75 million price tag, Currie said, because of the rising cost of steel and K-State’s desire to add a few extras onto the project during construction.

– Every area of the renovation will be ready for use in time for the season-opener on August 30. But student athletes won’t be able to use the new training table, where many athletes eat dinner, on a full-time basis until January.

– Only 150 club-level seats remain available for the upcoming season. Currie said those sales are well ahead of projections.

– The stadium’s new lighting system will be twice as bright as it was last season.

– K-State will need to hire several new workers to help maintain the press box after it is completed. Currie is expecting the athletic department’s staff to rise from about 130 to 150.

Now, on to more pictures:
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Anthony Cantele may not get drafted, but he will get a shot at the NFL

The NFL Draft doesn’t end until Saturday afternoon, but former Kansas State kicker Anthony Cantele already knows of at least a few teams that won’t be picking him.

That’s the kind of foresight that comes from NFL scouts and assistant coaches calling you to say, “We won’t draft you.”

Cantele says he has been receiving a lot of those calls lately. But they aren’t nearly as bad as they sound. Before hanging up, each caller expresses their interest in signing Cantele to a free-agent contract after the draft. Most rookies have to go that route before earning a roster spot. NFL teams rarely use draft picks on kickers.

For that reason, Cantele is prepared for anything this weekend. If he gets drafted, great. If he doesn’t get selected, that’s fine, too. No matter what, he knows he will have the opportunity to compete for a kicking job next season.
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Angel Rodriguez transfer creates multiple possibilities for K-State’s new starting five


With Angel Rodriguez coming back as a junior, Kansas State appeared poised to return to the NCAA Tournament and finish in the top three of the Big 12 standings next season.

Now that the talented point guard has announced his intentions to transfer, the Wildcats’ streak of four straight NCAA Tournament appearances is in jeopardy. There is no telling where they will finish in a weakened Big 12, but they are clearly a tier below league favorites Oklahoma State and Kansas.

Nothing separates them from Iowa State, Baylor and Oklahoma, which also lose the bulk of their talent and experience after runs to the postseason.

In Rodriguez, K-State loses a two-year starter who averaged 11.4 points and 5.2 assists on a team that won 27 games and shared the Big 12 championship. He would have been one of the top returning players in the conference, and one of the top point guards in the country.

Now, the only returning guard with significant playing time under his belt is Will Spradling. He may have to take over point guard duties, at least initially until recently committed Nigel Johnson transitions to the college game and Jevon Thomas becomes eligible after the first semester. Shane Southwell looks like K-State’s top returning player after averaging 8.4 points as a junior, but his improved season came as a hybrid power forward. He might have to move back to guard or small forward.

Fortunately for coach Bruce Weber, Thomas Gipson shouldn’t face much of a transition in the post coming off an above-average sophomore season. But will he play beside D.J. Johnson in a big lineup with Neville Fincher and Nino Williams coming off the bench? Or will Williams start at power forward while Johnson comes off the bench?
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K-State lands point guard Nigel Johnson

Kansas State picked up its newest basketball commitment late Saturday night from point guard Nigel Johnson.

Johnson is a 6-foot-1, 170-pounder from Upper Marlboro, Md. He plays for Riverdale Baptist and the familiar AAU team DC Assault, which Michael Beasley, Rodney McGruder and Jamar Samuels all used to play for.

Here is Johnson’s Rivals profile. His other offers came from mid-major programs, but Missouri showed interest in him. He was originally a George Washington commit, but re-opened his recruitment a few weeks ago. K-State offered him a scholarship on Thursday, and he committed quickly.

K-State lacks depth at guard with the departure of Martavious Irving and the transfer of Michael Orris. The possibility of early playing time appealed to Johnson.

“I felt like I could definitely come in right away and make an impact,” Johnson told the website DMVElite.com. “They told me that I can come in right away and be a major contributor.”

K-State has one basketball scholarship remaining to use for the 2013 recruiting class or save for the 2014 class. Johnson will join Marcus Foster, Wesley Iwundu, Jevon Thomas and Neville Fincher next season. All four have signed with the Wildcats.