The late addition of Jonathan Banks to Kansas State’s crowded quarterback race came as a surprise to many, but it was the culmination of tireless recruiting efforts by those within the program, football coach Bill Snyder said Wednesday.
The Wildcats had been searching for an extra dual-threat quarterback since Daniel Sams transferred to McNeese State in the spring of 2014.
“We were searching,” Snyder said during an interview at the Wichita Catbackers annual banquet. “We had our quarterbacks lined up quite well and then Daniel Sams left and that took us out of the pecking order. Now we need somebody in that spot and we need somebody that can hopefully compete.
“It was not a matter of adding one more quarterback. It was kind of a replacement thing. We had a guy in Daniel who could run around and do the things we wanted to do and had experience on the field. We are an inexperienced position at quarterback right now. I have a lot of faith and confidence in the young guys that are there right now, but we need to keep striving to get a little better.”
Banks, a junior-college transfer from Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Calif., certainly is a similar playmaker to Sams, a mobile passer who split time with Jake Waters as a sophomore before transferring.
At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Banks completed 140 of 235 passes last season for 1,992 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also rushed for 700 yards and 11 touchdowns on 131 carries while leading his team to nine victories. He was voted Offensive Player of the Year in the Northern California Football Conference.
Snyder found him partially by accident. Linebackers coach Mike Cox was recruiting one of Banks’ junior college teammates when he saw Banks impressing in practice.
He requested highlight videos and shared them with Snyder.
When he approved, a scholarship offer was made and Banks quickly accepted. He arrived on campus earlier this week.
“He is a young guy who can run around and fits into the things we like to do in the quarterback run game,” Snyder said. “Hopefully, he can throw the ball around well enough to make that a viable option for him.”
Banks, a sophomore, joins a four-quarterback competition. He will compete with fellow sophomore Jesse Ertz, junior Joe Hubener and freshman Alex Delton for playing time once summer practices begin.
Ertz, Hubener and Delton spent spring practices vying to replace Waters as K-State’s starting quarterback, producing mixed results.
Ertz started the spring game, but didn’t play well enough in the public setting to separate himself from Hubener or Delton. All three split snaps. Hubener served as the primary backup quarterback a year ago, while Delton looked sharp running in his spring debut.
Snyder was anticipating a competitive position battle. Banks will only ramp it up before the season opener against South Dakota on Sept. 5, though he will be at a disadvantage.
While Ertz, Hubener and Delton spent the entire spring trying to lead K-State’s offense, Banks does not have any experience. His biggest challenge will be learning the playbook, which Snyder admits is not quickly done.
It will be difficult for Banks to win the starting spot, but Snyder thinks it is possible.
“I wouldn’t have invited him in if we didn’t feel it was a possibility,” Snyder said. “I can’t tell you how it will play out. I don’t know how quickly he can absorb everything. He is a very conscientious young guy, but so are the others. I think he will compete, but I think the other kids will compete, too.”
Rohleder gets a scholarship — Brian Rohleder, a former Bishop Carroll standout and K-State basketball walk-on, has been elevated to scholarship status. He said K-State basketball coach Bruce Weber informed him of the promotion at the conclusion of the season.
“It’s what I have been working for four years,” Rohleder, a senior, said. “It’s a great way to end my career.”
With eight departing players and six newcomers, K-State had two scholarships to work with. One went to Rohleder. Weber is still deciding what to do with the other. He could add an extra recruit for the upcoming season or hold it for the 2016 class.
“We will just have to wait and see,” Weber said. “We will probably have a few players visit in the coming weeks and make a decision from there.”
Another sellout — Kansas State athletic director John Currie said the Wildcats have already sold their allotment of their football season tickets for the upcoming season. He said it is the fourth straight season they have done so.
“We are on track to have 27 consecutive sellouts by the end of this year,” Currie said. “We have tremendous fans.”
Increasing the budget — Currie announced Wednesday that K-State is on track to finish the 2014 fiscal year, which ends later this month, with a balanced budget. The Wildcats have operated on a surplus for six consecutive years.
He said K-State’s athletic budget was roughly $65 million in 2014 and will increase to about $70 million next year.