K-State in search of new recruiting blood

First Joe Bob Clements. Now Michael Smith.

In the span of five days, the Kansas State football team surprisingly lost two longtime assistants that once played for the Wildcats and started their coaching careers under Bill Snyder.

Clements, K-State’s former defensive ends coach and defensive run game coordinator, is off to Oklahoma State as the Cowboys’ new defensive line coach. Smith, K-State’s former receivers coach, will be in charge of the same position at Arkansas.

Their absences will be noticeable. On the field, Clements and Smith did a fine job of developing talent. Meshak Williams and Adam Davis were two of the top pass-rushers in the Big 12 last season. Chris Harper came to Manhattan hoping to play quarterback and left as a productive receiver with a future in the NFL. They helped K-State win 21 games the past two seasons.

But their biggest contributions came in recruiting.

Smith and Clements were without a doubt K-State’s top two recruiters. Smith, a New Orleans native, regularly signed prospects from Florida and Louisiana, where he faced competition from SEC schools. He spoke passionately about “not taking a backseat” to other programs and Rivals labeled him as one of the top 10 recruiters in the Big 12 last year. Clements, an Emporia native, was well-liked in the Sunflower State and helped seal the deal with many local recruits.

They were the two youngest assistants on the Wildcats’ staff (Clements is 37 and Smith is 42) and had outgoing personalities that high school seniors could easily relate to.
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Fiesta Bowl Countdown: Kyle Klein impressing coaches during bowl practices

Throughout his time at Kansas State, Kyle Klein has been known best as Collin’s younger brother.

That may always be the case, but Klein will be able to make a name for himself starting next year. Older brother will be gone, pursuing a career in the NFL. Klein will be a sophomore receiver, pursuing a starting spot.

With only Chris Harper and Zach McFall leaving the program, he will face strong competition. But he will be in the mix for playing time behind Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson along with Curry Sexton, Torell Miller, and Deante Burton.

Klein saw playing time this season, but didn’t receive many targets. He didn’t catch a single pass.

At the least, that will change next season. Klein was still adjusting to the position this season. Since joining the K-State program, he has spent time at defensive end, tight end and receiver. He played practically every position, including quarterback, for his high school football team and prides himself on being versatile. Still, he needed time to fully grasp K-State’s offense as a receiver.

Now that he feels more comfortable, his coaches are expecting big things.

“He is having a great bowl prep,” co-offensive coordinator Dana Dimel said. “He is really starting to make some strides. I’m paying a lot of attention to what the young guys are doing. Kyle has made a lot of nice plays. He’s just like Collin. He is learning how to play his position. He is getting a lot better. He brings length to that position. We want to throw the ball downfield and he allows us to do that.”
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