K-State’s best unsung summer players

By now, it’s pretty obvious that players such as Tysyn Hartman, Arthur Brown and Collin Klein are excelling at Kansas State’s voluntary summer workouts. All three have been voted captains by their teammates, and all three were invited to Dallas for Big 12 Media Days by coach Bill Snyder.

But what about the players further down the depth chart? What about some newcomers? Who came into the offseason flying under the radar (excuse the cliche) but now has a chance to turn a few heads during games?

I asked those questions earlier this week, and came away with a handful of answers.

On the offensive line … “A lot of guys are working hard up front,” said Klein, a junior quarterback. “Clyde Aufner, B.J. Finney, Colten Freeze, I could go on and on.”

Aufner started eight games a year ago at tackle and as a senior should be one of the leaders on K-State’s line. Finney received great reviews from teammates at the end of spring practices. I will be surprised if he doesn’t start at center as a redshirt freshman. Freeze played in all 13 games last season in a reserve role, but could make a run at starting right guard this year.
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Moving on without Brodrick Smith

Without Brodrick Smith in the lineup, Kansas State will have to go the remainder of the season without one of its top wide receivers and best red-zone target.

That is not good news for the Wildcats. Their passing game was already struggling, and now they will have to get Chris Harper and Adrian Hilburn acclimated to more regular usage.

The adjustment will be easy for Harper, who has caught five passes for 50 yards and a touchdown this season. He started against Nebraska and has handled heavy workloads in the past. But Hilburn has just three catches for 21 yards to his name. He will be asked to do more in the coming weeks.

K-State coach Bill Snyder expects the entire receiving core to be up for the challenge of responding to Smith’s injury.

“Like everybody else they were pained by it,” Snyder said. “They’re the guys who sit in the same meeting rooms together every day and communicate and work together on the field. It’s painful. It’s like an injury to a family member, a brother. But all of our players respond the same way. They feel bad and realize they have to move on.”
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Position Preview: Returners

Brodrick Smith

Who will replace Brandon Banks as Kansas State’s main kick returner?

That is a question that has been asked countless times heading into the upcoming football season.

On Tuesday, Wildcats coach Bill Snyder gave us an answer. On kickoffs, Terrance Sweeney and Brodrick Smith will line up nearest the end zone. For punts, Tramaine Thompson and Smith will do most of the sprinting.
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Wednesday K-State links

We have linked to numerous stories about Brandon Banks’ hot start with the Washington Redskins lately. So today we look at some other former Kansas State football players in the pros.

– For starters, here’s a look at how Jordy Nelson is fitting in with the Green Bay Packers.

– Darren Sproles missed the Chargers’ preseason opener with a bum shoulder, but the injury is not believed to be serious. When he returns, San Diego coaches expect Sproles to help make up for the backfield loss of LaDainian Tomlinson.

– Jeffrey Fitzgerald, who led the Wildcats in sacks last season, was cut from the Chiefs yesterday. Too bad. The Chiefs’ next preseason game is against Tampa Bay. He could have been reunited with former K-State tight end Jeron Mastrud and former quarterback Josh Freeman.
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Monday K-State links

– Kansas State’s home game against Virginia Tech next season will be part of ESPN’s third-annual College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon. The game will start at 3 p.m. on Nov. 16 and offer Wildcats fans a rare Tuesday afternoon tip.

– John Henderson, of the Denver Post, writes that there is no doubting Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas as he enters his senior season.

– ESPN.com put together a ranking of the nation’s top college super fans, and guess who made the list at No. 12. The Wildcats’ own Robert Lipson. No other super fan of a Big 12 program made the cut.

– Brandon Banks sits down for a video interview with Jocks Talk.

Jamar Samuels and Nick Russell have both finished their tours of Europe with the East Coast All-Stars. They returned to America over the weekend.

Brandon Banks returns punt 77 yards for TD

It didn’t take long for Brandon Banks to make a game-breaking play with the Washington Redskins.

Playing in his preseason debut Friday, the former Kansas State speedster fielded a punt, found room around the edge and sprinted 77 yards for a touchdown.

He then paid homage to former Kentucky guard, and No. 1 NBA draft pick, John Wall by doing (what else?) the John Wall dance. Wall, who like Banks is from North Carolina, gave Banks a shoutout on his twitter page.

By all means a productive NFL start for Banks.

Brandon Banks tries Wildcat formation


At Kansas State, Brandon Banks used his speed to zoom past defenders on kickoff returns and lead the Wildcats in receptions.

In the NFL, his quick feet are being utilized in a third way: taking snaps out of the Wildcat formation.

According to The Washington Post , Banks, a 5-foot-7 speedster, spent time at quarterback during a recent practice.

There was a Wildcat formation sighting at Redskins Park but it took a split second longer than usual to actually see who was at quarterback. The diminutive Brandon Banks, a former Kansas State Wildcat, no less, took a couple snaps in the formation that has taken the NFL by storm since the Miami Dolphins introduced it in 2008.

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Fitzgerald, Banks sign free-agent contracts

Two former Kansas State football players signed free-agent contracts with NFL teams today.

Jeffrey Fitzgerald, a defensive lineman who led the Wildcats with seven sacks last season, signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Brandon Banks, a wide receiver/return specialist, landed with the Washington Redskins.

Both were standout players for the Wildcats, but neither heard their name called in last month’s NFL Draft. Nonetheless, they will each now have the chance to make a professional roster.
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Banks earns top Big 12 special teams honor

Of the seven Kansas State football players who received individual honors from the Big 12 Conference on Tuesday, Brandon Banks was the biggest winner.

The senior wide receiver/kick returner was named Special Teams Player of the Year, making him the first Wildcats player to earn the honor. The last time K-State produced a Big 12 Player of the Year was in 2002 when Terence Newman took home top defensive honors.

Other 2009 K-State honorees, voted on by Big 12 coaches, included junior running back Daniel Thomas, who was named Offensive Newcomer of the Year, first-teamers Jeron Mastrud and Nick Stringer, and honorable mentions Jeffrey Fitzgerald, Tysyn Hartman, Joshua Moore and coach Bill Snyder.
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Live Blog: Mizzou 38, K-State 12

The Kansas State football team has made a name for itself this season by making its opponents pay for their mistakes while limiting its own.

On Saturday at Snyder Family Stadium, the Wildcats were beaten at their own game and lost to Missouri 38-12.

K-State committed three turnovers, never got its running game going and could do nothing to stop Mizzou’s high-powered passing game.

Tigers quarterback Blaine Gabbert completed 20 of 27 pass for 298 yards and three touchdowns. All three of his scores went to wide receiver Danario Alexander, who looked particularly good amassing 200 yards on 10 catches.
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