Iowa Western transfer highlights K-State's class
By ARNE GREEN
Special to The Hays Daily News
Daniel Sams showed enough promise last season as Kansas State's backup quarterback to warrant a long look for the starting job.
Bill Snyder was not about to hand it to him by default, and that's where Jake Waters comes in.
Waters, who led Iowa Western Community College to a national championship last fall, is a centerpiece of K-State's 2013 football recruiting class announced Wednesday on the first day of the NCAA signing period.
"It's important," Snyder said of landing Waters, the NJCAA offensive player of the year. "I think it will certainly enhance Daniel's play and vice versa.
"We're hoping that it becomes a very competitive environment."
Sams played in eight games as a redshirt freshman, rushing for 235 yards and three touchdowns, plus completing 6 of 8 passes for 55 yards. Waters, a 6-foot-2, 215-pounder from Council Bluffs, Iowa, broke an NJCAA accuracy record, completing 73.3 percent of his passes for 3,501 yards and 39 touchdowns.
The good news for K-State is that Waters already is enrolled and will participate in spring practice. He is one of four junior college transfers to arrive at semester, along with one high school signee and four grayshirt players who signed last year.
"I wouldn't say vital, but it's extremely important," Snyder said of Waters getting a jump on next season. "It's probably the best way that we could do it, to have him right now, going through the out-of-season program and have a chance to throw and catch with the other quarterbacks and wide receivers.
"He'll have a chance to go through spring practice, and it gives you a chance to create the competition at an earlier point than it would be if you had to wait until August. So it's of value."
K-State announced a signing class of 32 - 26 from the high school ranks and six from junior colleges - but that included several walk-on and grayshirt candidates as well as the four grayshirts from last year who went on scholarship this semester.
Of the juco transfers, five are listed on defense, where K-State must replace nine of the starters from the Fiesta Bowl. In all, the Wildcats signed 18 defensive players, 11 offensive, a kicker, a long snapper and one designated as an athlete.
The list on defense includes seven linebackers, six linemen -- four of them ends -- and five defensive backs. Cornerback Randall Evans and safety Ty Zimmerman are the returning starters along with linebacker Tre Walker, who missed the end of the season with a knee injury.
The only defensive tackle expected to contribute off the bat is 6-4, 345-pound Christ Brown from Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College. Vai Lutui, John Sua and Javonta Boyd, the Wildcats' top three interior linemen, all were seniors.
"We would have liked to (have signed more tackles), so we will continue," Snyder said. "Today isn't the end of the process for this particular class, and you always want as many interior defensive linemen as you can get.
"You want quality, but so does every other program in the country. That seems to be, for whatever reason, the most complex position to recruit to."
On offense, the Wildcats signed three linemen, tight ends and wide receivers, plus two quarterbacks. In addition to Waters, they picked up Jesse Ertz, a record-breaking passer and state Gatorade Player of the Year from Burlington, Iowa.
The two top-rated players according to Rivals.com's five-star system were linebacker Nick Ramirez from Lee's Summit West (Mo.) High School and defensive end Tanner Wood from Conway Springs, each with four stars. But that is typical of K-State's classes, which often have exceeded the ratings by recruiting services.
"How young people get assessed is probably different in one venue than it is in the other," Snyder said. "How we assess young people might be different and obviously is different than other people might assess them.
"It depends on what you're looking for and we have a strong belief in all the intrinsic values that we talk about all the time, and that's a major part of the draw that I think we bring to the table. And I think our coaching staff does a very, very fine job ... of developing young people."
One four-prospect who did not sign with the Wildcats was defensive end Jamone Boyd, a teammate of Ramirez at Lee's Summit West, who was charged Monday with armed robbery.
Snyder said K-State had contact with Boyd at some point but informed him that they could not offer him a scholarship and directed him toward a junior college. According to the Kansas City Star, Boyd was scheduled to sign with Butler Community College.
Of K-State's juco signees, Waters is just one of three from Iowa Western's championship team. The others two, also enrolled at semester, are defensive back Travis Green and defensive end Devon Nash.