MANHATTAN — After weeks of speculation, Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder confirmed Monday that senior center Reid Najvar won’t play this season.
“He is not going to participate this year,” Snyder said during his time on the Big 12 teleconference. “He will be with us. He is a part of our team. He just won’t get on the field.”
Najvar started all 13 games for the Wildcats last season, helping K-State’s offensive line improve into one of the nation’s best units. The 6-foot-4, 295-pounder from Spring, Texas was expected to pick up where he left off in the middle of an experienced front five. Instead, he will attend class as a normal student and watch K-State games from the sideline.
Adam Holtorf will take over as the team’s starting center when the season begins against Central Arkansas on Saturday, Snyder said.
Snyder did not explain why Najvar has chosen to sit out his senior year, but he is reportedly doing so because of concussion issues.
It won’t be easy for K-State to replace Najvar on short notice, but Snyder said he is confident in Adam Holtorf.
“Adam has always been a prominent player for us,” Snyder said. “He has been able to play center and guard as a backup in previous years, and he has done well. He is a very conscientious young guy, execution is very concentrated. He is just very much into what he is doing — a good team player, as well. There are a lot of positives. He has been on the field. It’s not like he doesn’t have experience.”
Holtorf, a 6-foot-4, 293-pound blocker from Seward, Neb., saw action against Florida Atlantic and TCU last season. He also saw lots of playing time at K-State’s spring game as Najvar’s primary backup.
He will make his first start later this week. It will be a change for the unproven blocker, but he has been working toward this all month. Holtorf has been practicing with K-State’s starting offensive line since Najvar stepped aside three weeks ago.
The Wildcats went through a similar experience last season when they surprisingly moved Dalton Risner from center to right tackle at the beginning of preseason camp and selected Najvar as his replacement. K-State coaches were confident in Najvar then. They are confident in Holtorf now.
The NCAA passed a number of new practice rules, designed to promote player safety, during the offseason that football teams are still adjusting to this summer.
The new rules include the elimination of two-a-days practices and the addition of regulations on when student-athletes can and can’t participate in team activities. Teams are now limited to a single, three-hour practice and a walk-through in one day. And the walk-through can only come after players have had three continuous hours of rest. Players must also be given a full day away from football each week.
Snyder has criticized the rule changes, along with the newly adopted early signing period. He says they have thrown him off schedule a few times this month.
“I have to scrutinize everything minute by minute,” Snyder said. “It has caused some changes that have to take place in the middle of the day or the middle of the week. It is kind of ongoing. I haven’t gotten acclimated to it yet. That has created some time issues for me.”
Snyder’s health has been a prominent topic since he began undergoing treatment for throat cancer last winter, and he was predictably asked about his condition on Monday.
The 77-year old coach said he was feeling good.
“I am doing fine,” Snyder said. “I’m not quite as young as I would like to be. That goes without saying. My age is what it is. But I appreciate you asking. I am doing quite well.”