By RON PRESTON
The question started last January immediately after the Fiesta Bowl. Who will replace two year starter, record setting, Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein at quarterback for the defending Big 12 Champion Kansas State Wildcats?
Fans and the media asked the question again in the spring after the spring game. Would Head Coach Bill Snyder and his staff go with talented dual threat returning sophomore Daniel Sams or would they turn to recently recruited Junior College All-American Jake Waters?
In his news conference following the Purple and White Game in April, Snyder stated there was no clear cut favorite at the moment. He said both QB s were seemingly equal in the knowledge of the offense and their performance was pretty much similar and he needed to see if someone would standout after summer workouts going into the fall training camp.
Recently Coach Snyder spoke again about this question during media day at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
“All I can say after the three practices that we’ve had and the meetings that we’ve had and I really probably will not be able to tell you anything differently then what we did out of spring practice,” Snyder said.
“What I’ve seen has just been a carry over. I think both of them are being very competitive. I think both are working diligently. Their work habits are extremely good. I think they are studying the system because that’s a big part of it. I think both of them are attempting to provide quality leadership. That’s part of it as well,” he said.
“They help each other as far as gaining pure understanding of what our offense is really all about. They communicate about the strengths and weaknesses and how to make the right decisions. It doesn’t mean they are not playing at this point in time. That is totally up to the standards we would like but they are making headway,” he continued.
“I don’t think they have stopped improving. They each have a good day and a bad day, but I appreciate the competiveness of it and also the fact they are providing quality leadership. They are helping each other and showing a tremendous amount of unselfishness,” coach Snyder said.
Sophomore Daniel Sams is an athletic quarterback at 6-2, 207 pounds, who shone in late-game duty during his redshirt freshman campaign. He saw action in eight games and rushed for 235 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries, while he went 6-for-8 for 55 yards through the air.
Sams recorded the most rushing yards by a freshman quarterback in school history.
“I am trying not to worry about winning the battle for the position,” Sams said. “I am just trying to focus on what I am doing as a quarterback leading the team, on and off the field.”
“I am very comfortable with the offense, but I try not to get complacent because I know the offense well. I still try to work on timing with the receivers and find chemistry and let everything else fall into place.”
Junior college transfer Jake Waters is a versatile athlete who was the best quarterback in the community college ranks in 2012 at Iowa Western Community College. Waters was named the 2012 NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year after leading Iowa Western to a 12-0 record and a National Championship.
Waters, 6-1, 210 pounds, accounted for over 300 yards of total offense in the National Championship game, a 27-7 win over second-ranked Butler Community College
“Daniel and I are not lying when we say it is not dog-eat-dog. We both really want to start. We get that one of us is going to start and the other will not. We are both just trying to do whatever we can to make the team better, and we are trying to help each other out any way we can. So we are not trying to give each other false information or one-up each other, and it will make us both better in the long run,” Waters said.
“I have spent a lot of time on the play book and with classes and summer workouts, I’ve been very busy. I had to catch up with Daniel (Sams) with him being in the system longer. I have done my fair share of watching film and getting into the playbook. It has helped me so far, and it has helped me get a grasp of the offense and everything right now,” Waters stated.
“I definitely have a better understanding than in the spring. I am definitely not where I want or need to be, but that is what fall camp is for. I am just going to keep working and try and get better. I will make strides to get there with the help of the coaches and Daniel,” Waters said.
Sams and Waters, even though they are competing against each other for the starting job at quarterback, not only practice and study together; they are also roommates in the dorm. They both have agreed this has helped them bond as teammates and friends and they spend a lot of time together studying the playbook and discussing offensive situations.
When asked if there is a time when both might be on the field in the same play, Sams said, “We have not done anything like that yet. I do not see it not happening. It is up to the coaches but as far as right now, we are just trying to find who can be that quarterback and step up for the team.”
Co-Offensive Coordinator Dana Dimel said, “ They are both working hard right now and they are both doing things well enough, where I could see them both bringing something to the table to help us win football games.”
“Daniel is going to have a role. Whether he is starting or not, he is going to play. He is not going to sit and watch, and I am talking about playing at quarterback. Whoever wins it out, the other guy has got to be ready, and so that is the biggest thing. The past two years, we have not had that luxury. We have kind of been on pins and needels the past two years, where if the first guy goes down, the drop off is huge. Now if the first guy goes down, it is not going to be a huge difference and that is very important,” Dimel said.
“The approach to coaching quarterbacks is not any different and probably when I was much younger I may have done a ladder that says, this guy should be it and somebody else comes on, but I reserve that for the right time: I need more information to be able to make that decision. I think sometimes you kind of have a sensitivity to who you think ought to be the guy that sometimes perhaps clouds your judgment and doesn’t allow you to give a fair assessment to however many competitors you have at that particular spot, so I think it’s best to reserve for the right time, and it’s not here yet,” coach Snyder added.
“A lot of people say, and I don’t argue the point, “pick the guy,” so you got one guy and he’s out there and he’s your leader and everybody knows who they’re gonna get, and the problem with that is you may pick the wrong guy and the other part of it is all the players, they’re pretty astute about certain positions and you want to make the decisions for the right reasons so that everybody understands. Fairness is a big part of a program, and the only way to be totally fair with young people in their program is whoever is best is on the field, and whoever is second best is the second guy on the field. As long as players know that it’s always going to be fair then they buy in,” Snyder concluded.
So the competition continues and we probably won’t know the chosen one until just before game time on Aug. 30th.
Part 3 of the series on K-State media day will be about wide receivers and the offensive line.