TOPEKA — On top of having one of the best names at the Kansas Shrine Bowl, Trent Tanking looked like one of the state’s best players at the annual all-star game.
Tanking, a Holton grad, spent his summer taking classes and working out with his future teammates at Kansas State, but the freshman linebacker returned to the high school ranks for one final time over the weekend. The results proved he was ready for college practices.
Tanking was far and away the best defender on the field, making a game-high 16 tackles (the next closest total was nine), with 2.5 coming for a loss. He also forced a fumble and was named Most Outstanding Player for the East team.
It was a perfect ending to a week of practices on Washburn’s campus. Now he’s looking forward to the start of K-State’s fall training camp, where hopes to prove himself as a walk-on.
“I got invited to fall camp with K-State. That was one of my main goals this year, to get invited to fall camp, and I did it,” Tanking said. “What it holds, I have no idea. I am just going to work my butt off and see what happens. I came in as a walk-on. I have the mentality of working hard and earning everything I get. Hopefully it works out for me in the long run.”
According to his Rivals profile page, Tanking wasn’t offered a scholarship by any Division I programs, but he received interest from a handful of regional teams.
He chose to walk-on at K-State instead of accepting a scholarship at a lower level for simple reasons.
“To be honest with you, I’ve been a K-State fan my whole life,” Tanking said. “They also took me on an official visit, which showed they were pretty serious about me. I asked them if they thought I could make it up the ladder, and they said yes. That was enough for me to commit there. I’m ready to get started.”
K-State has a history of succeeding with walk-ons from its home state. Jordy Nelson, Jon McGraw, Blake Seiler and current center B.J. Finney all started as walk-ons.
Tanking hopes to follow the same path.
“It helps that they are all small town kids just like me,” Tanking said. “They had the work ethic. Hopefully I can mimic that, but I’m just looking to get anything I deserve. I’m not looking to do anything they did, because they are unbelievable players and they had incredible careers. I am just looking to earn whatever I can get.”
His main contributions will likely come during practice or on the scout team as a freshman. With several experienced linebackers in front of him on the depth chart, he figures to be a redshirt candidate.
Tanking said he doesn’t have any expectations for the upcoming season, other than continuing to improve his game the way he did this summer.
That’s the same approach he took with him to the Kansas Shrine Bowl, and he was quickly named a captain for his team. He then went out and played well when the lights came on.
“My hips have gotten more flexible and I’m faster now,” Tanking said. “(Strength) coach (Chris) Dawson has helped me a lot already. I can feel myself getting stronger and faster. I have already had some interesting experiences with the older guys, too. I feel like I have made new friends and new relationships. I’m lucky enough to have great mentors like Blake Slaughter and Tre Walker to look up to.
“I can’t say anything about what will happen next season. All I know is we have a lot of guys back and we will all work hard. The team is going to be the same hard-nosed, hard-working team it always is. I’m going to help any way I can.”
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