Category Archives: A few minutes with …

A few minutes with … Kirby Hocutt

Kansas State fans first met Kirby Hocutt more than 20 years ago as a linebacker on some of Bill Snyder’s early teams. He helped the Wildcats reach their first bowl game under Snyder – the Copper Bowl in 1993 – and he left the program as a memorable player.

Today, he is better known as an athletic director. In the past year, he has made sweeping changes at Texas Tech, hiring Kliff Kingsbury as the Red Raiders’ new football coach and hiring Tubby Smith as the Red Raiders’ new basketball coach.

After a 7-0 start to the football season, fan excitement boomed in Lubbock. Back-to-back losses have brought Texas Tech down to earth a bit. Now it will try to bounce back against Hocutt’s alma mater.

Hocutt was kind enough to talk about that matchup, his current job and his former school in a wide-ranging interview earlier this week. Some of the conversation was covered here. Here are the other highlights.

What kind of relationship do you have with Bill Snyder?

He is why I pursued a career in college athletics. The five years I spent playing under Coach Snyder, I enjoyed that time at Kansas State. I learned from Coach Snyder and Coach (Bob) Stoops and all of the coaches. Those experiences are still valuable to me today.
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A few minutes with … Joey Harrington

Former Oregon/Detroit quarterback Joey Harrington will help call K-State’s upcoming game against North Dakota State for Fox Sports 1.

He was a Heisman Trophy finalist at Oregon. Then he was a starting quarterback in the NFL. Now Joey Harrington is a college football analyst for Fox Sports 1.

Harrington is making his first trip to Manhattan to help call Kansas State’s season-opener against North Dakota State on Friday.

He is looking forward to the game, which pits the defending Big 12 champion against the defending Championship Subdivision champion and marks the debut of Jake Waters as K-State’s starting quarterback.

With that in mind, Harrington was kind enough to talk about the game while he drove from KCI to Manhattan on Wednesday.

Here are the highlights of that conversation (edited for clarity and length):

Q: As a former quarterback, what advice would you give Jake Waters heading into his first start? Also, what are you expecting from Waters on Friday?

A: What advice would I give him? Be yourself, don’t try and be somebody you’re not and do more than you need to. He is walking into a good position for a lot of reasons. He has a great tailback behind him. He has some very good wide receivers, he has an offensive line that is very experienced, he has got a head coach who will make sure he is put in the right position … I would tell him to be yourself and go play.

On the second part of your question, I’m not sure what to expect. There is not a whole lot of film on him. We are still trying to find some good game film of him. I am going to try to get in there and see if I can watch some practice footage of him and get a better look. From the highlight tapes, I’ve seen he throws a nice ball and he runs well. From the stats I can tell you 39 touchdowns compared to three interceptions is about as good a ratio as I’ve ever seen.
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A few minutes with … New Kansas State assistants Blake Seiler and Andre Coleman

Kansas State welcomed two new assistant coaches in the offseason. They are both former K-State players who are entering their first seasons as full-time assistants at the BCS level.

Blake Seiler is the new defensive ends coach. Andre Coleman is the new wide receivers coach.

They were both hired several months ago, but were off-limits to the media until just recently at the team’s annual media day. Both coaches took some time to talk about their new jobs with K-Stated. Here are the highlights of those conversations:

Blake Seiler
This is your first year as full-time assistant, but you have been a member of Kansas State’s coaching staff for four years, both as a quality control assistant and graduate assistant. After all that waiting, what was it like to get promoted?

It was an unbelievable feeling, my time as a GA was almost up. I was looking for a job and to end up with a job here, at my alma mater … What more could you ask for? It’s the perfect job. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity. I am willing to give it whatever I can to make it work.

How did Bill Snyder break the news to you that you were being promoted?

He just came in my office, looked me in the eye and said, “Are you ready to move up.” I said, “Yes sir.” He said, “All right, I’m confident that’s the direction we are going to go.” We went from there.

You inherit a talented group of defensive ends, but none of them have much on-field experience. What is it like working with players that are going to be starting for the first time this season?

I don’t have much on-field experience. Ryan Mueller has the most playing experience. I do have a lot of guys who have been in the program and in our defense. Marquel Bryant has two years. Laton Dowling has three. Devon Nash has been here going through spring ball. At least they have been in the meeting room and they know how we practice and know what to expect. It should be as smooth a transition as we could ask for considering the circumstances.
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Fiesta Bowl Countdown: Dana Dimel Q&A

Dana Dimel has one of the most interesting backgrounds of anyone on Kansas State’s coaching staff. The co-offensive coordinator, who also oversees running backs and tight ends, is just about to finish his fourth straight season at the helm of K-State’s offense.

Before that, though, he was a head coach at Wyoming and Houston and the associate head coach at Arizona. He is a K-State grad and got his coaching start with the Wildcats, originally serving as a graduate assistant and becoming offensive coordinator in 1995. He was with Bill Snyder at the start of his first successful run at K-State and came back for his second.

He has coached a Heisman Trophy finalist (Collin Klein), he has helped K-State reach two Cotton Bowls (1997 and 2012), he is about to coach in the Fiesta Bowl and he recruited Rob Gronkowski. He went 22-13 in three years at Wyoming. He went 0-11 in his second year at Houston and only lasted three seasons with the Cougars.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, interesting.

On Sunday, at a Fiesta Bowl news conference, he talked about his background, his dream of following Snyder as K-State’s head coach, the Wildcats’ 11-win season and the upcoming game against Oregon.

What does it mean to you, personally, to be part of K-State’s recent success?

It’s been very nice. Nice personally to be back with my family, back at Kansas State, where I went to school. To be around the community, where I know so many people, to see them as they raise their families, it’s home for me. I’ve spent 16 years of my life in Manhattan, Kansas. More than any place else.

Do you want to be a head coach again?

Sure, yeah, absolutely. That is always important for people to want to do that. I have been there and done it a couple times. I enjoyed it and want the challenge again. I always learned to be a good head coach you have to be good at what you are doing right now. So I don’t think about that. I just try to be the best running backs, tight end, fullback coach and offensive coordinator that I can be.

Do people around campus ever talk to you about the possibility of being the head coach at Kansas State?

Sure, absolutely. But it’s just something you don’t talk about that much. Obviously that would be a goal of mine. That is something I would want to happen, and hopefully someday it does happen. But right now let’s just do the best at what we are doing right now. To answer your question very candidly, though, yes — of course.

So that’s a dream of yours?


You want to take over the program when Snyder steps down?

Sure. Absolutely. I think it would be a challenge, but obviously I understand the inner workings of this program. I saw coach come in when we weren’t very successful. So I’ve seen what can make K-State not successful. I’ve been around for the losing years. I’ve also been around here during the transition and around for the positive years. I have seen the whole gambit of what K-State football is about. I have a great understanding of what it takes to win here, but also what not to do here.
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A few minutes with … Daniel Sams

Daniel Sams has only seen action in five games as Kansas State’s backup quarterback this season, but he has made the most of his time on the field.

The 6-foot-4 redshirt freshman from Slidell, La. has rushed for 198 yards and three touchdowns, and he has successfully used his speed to help maintain big leads in the fourth quarter. Last week, he finally got to pass for the first time and went 1-for-2 for 10 yards.

Sams is already a fan favorite in Manhattan, and will get the chance to compete for the starting spot next season when Collin Klein runs out of eligibility. Earlier this week, he talked about life as a backup quarterback.

What is your day-to-day routine as you prepare for each game?

It’s just basically preparing like I’m the starter. It’s the same thing Collin does. I watch film, take notes. You never know when an ankle is going to get hurt.

So you go into each game expecting to take the first snap?

If I don’t, I would feel like I wouldn’t be ready if something did happen. It’s the hardest thing in the world to do, prepare like you’re going to be the starter and end up not playing, but I just try to keep focused and prepare as if I’m going to play.

Have you learned a lot from Collin?

Sometimes I sit with him more than I do coach (Del) Miller, our quarterbacks coach. He breaks it down into simpler terms. Coming from high school, where I ran a spread offense, to now, being in a pro-style offense, it takes more time to break it down and he helps me with that.

How have you improved since arriving at K-State?

I’ve always been an athlete. I’ve always made plays, but I feel like I’ve improved more as a leader and being that guy in the huddle who can get people to listen to me. In high school I didn’t even have that. Being around Collin has turned me into more of a leader. I’m more poised now.
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A few minutes with … Ryan Doerr

After pinning Oklahoma inside the 20-yard line on all five of his punts last weekend, Kansas State senior Ryan Doerr was the obvious choice for Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week.

Field position was a key part of the Wildcats’ victory over the Sooners, and Doerr delivered every time he stepped onto the field.

He was happy to help his team in any way he could, and was naturally excited on the plane ride home. Hearing that he earned an honor from the Big 12 on Monday pumped him up even more. It wasn’t until later that day that he spoke with his mother on the phone that he tried to calm himself down.

“I talked to my mom for probably 10 minutes and she was so happy,” Doerr said. “I was like, ‘Mom, it’s OK. It’s not like I’m up for the Heisman like Collin (Klein).’ She was just excited and told me to take it in. I said, ‘I’ll try.’

Doerr is having a good final year with the Wildcats. He started the season with a slight injury, and only saw time as the holder on kicks against Missouri State. But he has looked strong punting the ball ever since. This week he was nice enough to talk about all that and more.

Your special teams coach, Sean Snyder, is one of the best punters in K-State history. Do you admire that?

I knew exactly how good he was. His name is on the stadium. He was a consensus all-american and on the ring of honor. I look up to that and would love to be there one day. He’s my coach, but I want to beat him and be better than him. But that’s a lofty goal, because he was such a great punter.

So you don’t mind pursuing high goals?

I want to be the best, I do. I work really hard at what I do and try to be the best. My expectations for myself are very high. What I want to achieve is very high. It just takes a lot of working hard every day, even when it gets a little repetitive. You still have to do it.

How well did you play against Oklahoma?

I think it was a good step. I still think I could have done better in my performance, especially in my first couple punts. I think it is definitely a step, and it’s a good one.

Do you get anything for winning Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week?

I don’t know. I got my name in the paper. That’s good enough.
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A few minutes with … former Nebraska QB, current FX analyst and Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch

Eric Crouch will be in Manhattan on Saturday working his second game as a college football analyst for FOX Sports when Kansas State takes on Miami. But unless you absolutely fell in love with the way he called West Virginia’s blowout win over Marshall last weekend, you likely know him best as the former Nebraska quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy in 2001.

Crouch became the 13th player in college football history to run and throw more than 1,000 yards in a season when he was a senior. K-State fans often compare his record-breaking year to the one Collin Klein had last season. When Crouch won the Heisman he rushed for 1,115 yards, passed for 1,510 yards and scored 25 touchdowns. A year ago, Klein rushed for 1,141 yards, passed for 1,918 yards and scored 40 touchdowns.

Their playing styles are noticeably similar, and Crouch is looking forward to watching Klein play in person this weekend.

Crouch was nice enough to take a few minutes out of his busy schedule to talk about that and more on Wednesday. Here are the highlights of our conversation:

What memories will come back to you when you return to Bill Snyder Family Stadium?

It will bring back a lot of memories, for sure. Not great memories, but one that sticks out to me was the facemask no call. But I’m not the kind of guy that holds a grudge. I’m not upset about Kansas State or anything, that’s water under the bridge. I had a fun time playing at Nebraska, and all our games with Kansas State were competitive. My freshman year I was down there and that was a very tough atmosphere to play in on the road. I came back as a junior and it started icing the last 30 minutes of the game. That really made it difficult to come from behind and try to win. I’m 0-for-2 down there, and it will be that way for a long time.

Did you ever get any grief about that? No offense, but there aren’t many Nebraska quarterbacks who never won in Manhattan.

No (laughs) people haven’t given me any grief about that. But I don’t want to start anything either.

Will it be strange at all coming to K-State now that the Wildcats and Huskers are in different conferences?

Maybe a little, but probably not. Every time I think of my college career, K-State was part of it and they always will be. I guess it’s a little different because Nebraska has left the conference, but my history will always lie in the Big 12.

What are the keys to this game?

The way I look at it, the key for Kansas State is to establish that front line. Both teams have similar offenses, the way they like to keep it balanced and mix it up. It will be important for them to establish that line of scrimmage and be tough and open holes. Kansas State is the veteran team here and Miami is the young team. Miami can’t let its young guys get caught up in the atmosphere. They need to stay focused and do their jobs.

Do you see many similarities between Collin Klein and yourself?

Yeah, he carried the ball 317 times last year, so there are definitely some similarities. He is a guy who can run and pass, which makes it dangerous for defenses to try and defend him. He probably throws a little more than I did and has the opportunity to do a little more in the passing game than we did. We really focused on the option and the play-action pass. He drops back in the pocket a little more. His ability to do both really puts your defense at a disadvantage. He’s a guy who can beat you with the deep ball and he is also a guy who can punish you with the run. That can really wear a defense down.
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A few minutes with … Angelo Pease

At about this time last year, Angelo Pease was just happy to be at Kansas State. After spending two years at Hutchinson Community College, he was thrilled to finally be playing at the Division I level.

He entered his first season with the Wildcats as a backup running back and finished with 144 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Not bad considering he only got 36 carries, and was battling a nagging injury.

Pease is still the backup running back today, behind John Hubert, but he is looking to make a larger impact in his senior season. He says he is healthy now, and ready to help K-State out of the wildcat formation (he lined up at quarterback a few times last year) or by taking traditional hand offs.

How excited are you for the season to start?

I’m very excited. I can’t wait. Every practice I go to is a day closer to the moment, this Saturday. I’m ready and excited to come out here and play in front of the fans now that I am 100 percent and healthy.

What was the hardest thing about playing with an injury last year?

It was hard. Some of my teammates needed me, but I couldn’t give 100 percent, so I just stayed back. A year ago I was fresh. I was new into it. It was a lot coming at me all at one time. But now I have a year under my belt. Things still come at me fast, but I’m more mature now. I’m more level. I can handle more things now. It’s not as hard.

Can you say anything about the specifics of your injury?

I ain’t going to talk about my injury. That’s just something we don’t do here.

Fair enough. What is the biggest difference in your running style now that you are healthy?

It’s going to be a big difference because I can come out here and use all of my talents. Last year, I was limited. This year I can come out and show the fans and my teammates that I really can play. I can live up to all the hype and not let my teammates down. Letting my teammates down is probably the worst thing you can do. My injury, it affected a lot of stuff. But I’m a competitor, whatever I go through I am still going to try as hard as I can.
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A few minutes with … Chester Frazier

Chester Frazier just joined the Kansas State basketball program as an assistant coach, but he feels like he has been working with the Wildcats for several months.

That’s not surprising considering he did a big favor for Bruce Weber days before he was hired as head coach.

Weber was considering taking the job, but wanted to make sure Rodney McGruder was returning for his senior season before he did. McGruder grew up in Washington DC, and Frazier (a former point guard for Weber at Illinois) grew up in nearby Baltimore. So Weber called Frazier, who was playing professional basketball in Germany at the time, to ask if he could get McGruder on the phone and find out if he was committed to K-State after the departure of Frank Martin. All while not saying anything about Weber’s interest in becoming the next coach.

Not the easiest of tasks, considering Weber’s request came at 3 in the morning (German time) and Frazier had never met McGruder. But Frazier delivered.

“My phone rang and it was Coach Weber,” Frazier said. “He said, ‘Chester, you have to call Rodney.’ All right what’s going on? ‘Well, I might get the Kansas State job and I need you to see what’s going on. He’s their best player.’”

Frazier took a moment to wake up and then called a friend associated with DC Assault, McGruder’s former AAU basketball team. He obtained McGruder’s cell phone number and had him on the phone about 30 minutes later.

McGruder was more than happy to talk.

“It wasn’t really weird,” McGruder said. “One of my good friends is friends with Chester. He said Chester was going to give me a call. I had seen him play before when he was at Illinois. I was cool with it. I was sitting on my couch watching TV. He was just asking me about my situation. I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll stick around. I love K-State.’”

The rest, as they say, is history. Weber became K-State’s head coach a few days later, and he was so impressed by Frazier’s connections (and overall basketball knowledge) that he figured he would be a good recruiter that he offered him a position on his staff.

Frazier moved to Manhattan earlier this week and is excited to get started. He was also nice enough to share a few of his thoughts on his new gig.

What attracted you to this job?

Being an assistant at this level was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. You know, when I was in Germany playing Coach and I kind of talked about it. But as time went on we got more serious about it.
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A few minutes with … Alvin Brooks III

Alvin Brooks III hasn’t been in Manhattan long. When the new Kansas State assistant coach told Bruce Weber he would be joining his staff last week, the first thing he did was hit the recruiting trail.

It wasn’t until Tuesday that he finally flew into town and unpacked his bags. He can already tell he’s going to like his surroundings, though. The former Sam Houston State assistant has been working hard for years to reach this level. He started off as a player in junior college before transferring to Idaho State. Then, six months out of school, he decided he didn’t like the career he had planned for himself as a financial adviser. So he got into coaching at the juco level and began working his way up.

He comes to K-State with eight years of college coaching experience. Though he has never coached in a conference similar to the Big 12, he knows someone who has. His father, Alvin Brooks II, is a former Houston head coach and has served as an assistant at Texas-El Paso, Texas A&M and Kentucky. He currently works as an associate head coach at Houston under James Dickey.

About one hour after viewing his K-State office for the first time, Brooks III was nice enough to talk about all that and more. Here are a few of the highlights:

How long have you known Bruce Weber, and what appealed to you about Kansas State?

I knew him because when I was at Bradley we recruited the same areas. I talked to him a lot on the road. I knew him and Coach (Chris) Lowery from when I was at Bradley. Coach Weber is a good person, but also a good coach. Coach Lowery is the same. The tradition you guys have here, and the fan base … I had no idea the fan base was like it is. It’s just a great opportunity. I think it will be a really good challenge.

One of the first things Weber said when he got here was that he wanted to bring in an assistant who could recruit Texas. I’m guessing you’re that guy. What’s your philosophy on recruiting the Lone Star State?

First off, it’s a huge state. I think it’s going to be fun recruiting the state just because it’s huge. There are a lot of players there. It’s even better now because more and more schools are recruiting Texas because of the reputation that it has lately. I think the biggest thing is just using the relationships I already have and building on more that I will gain. At Kansas State, it will be a place to talk to them about and their recent exposure. I think it will be fairly easy to get in the door. I’ll just have to do the rest from there.
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