By AUSTIN COLBERT
Like many Kansas State University football fans, Alex Delton has trouble picking out a favorite Wildcat quarterback. He enjoys watching film on KSU legends Michael Bishop and Ell Roberson, and particularly admires the passing game of current senior Jake Waters.
But there was something about the way Collin Klein played that stands above the rest. Klein finished third in the Heisman voting as a senior in 2012 after leading the Wildcats to an 11-2 record and Big 12 title. He is now part of the KSU coaching staff, serving as the assistant director of recruiting and defensive quality control.
And he still occasionally spends time with the quarterbacks, which has Delton, a KSU football signee, very excited.
"Collin experienced it first hand and experienced everything at the highest level and he had success with it. Collin will give you all the ins and outs sometime that maybe a coach won't," Delton said. "Any starting quarterback at Kansas State, you have to be a special person and a special player. All of those guys are uniquely different but uniquely special also."
Delton, the HDN's Offensive Player of the Year on the 31st annual Super 11 team, just finished his high school career at Hays High School, having elected to graduate this month. A good student, the school agreed to let him out a semester early in order to get a head start on what will likely be a highly scrutinized career at KSU.
A three-star recruit by Rivals and the No. 23 dual-threat quarterback in the 2015 class, Delton committed to KSU last winter and signed a financial aid agreement with the school in August.
He was the first of what is turning into a good recruiting class for the Wildcats and hopes to be in position to compete for a starting role next fall.
Even though freshmen rarely see the field under longtime KSU coach Bill Snyder, the QB situation will be wide open after Waters graduates and Delton will be among the contenders vying for the highly-coveted spot as team leader.
"I wanted to do that mainly to get a head start on the program and the offensive system. This will be a huge help for me in the upcoming fall," Delton said on graduating a semester early. "I'm super excited about Kansas State ... I really can't wait to get down there and start playing."
KSU's interest in Delton spiked when he attended a Wildcat camp during the summer following his sophomore season. A longtime Wildcat fan, Delton kept his options open as he was highly recruited by many other big-name programs.
But in the end, KSU proved to be the right fit. Delton's skill sets should work perfectly in the Wildcats' option-based offense, his Division I speed his primary threat. Delton led Hays High to a 7-2 record in 2014, including a perfect 4-0 mark in Western Athletic Conference play, where he was named its player of the year.
After being hindered by minor injuries as a junior, a healthy Delton flourished under the new spread offense of first-year HHS coach Bo Black as a senior. He rushed for a WAC-best 1,519 yards and 17 touchdowns, while throwing for 1,402 yards with 13 TDs and seven interceptions.
"He is just so explosively fast," Black said in an interview earlier this season. "He makes 8-yard runs into 80-yard runs, just because if he breaks into the secondary, I think it would be safe to say you'd be hard pressed to find anybody that is going to catch him."
Delton, who plans to major in kinesiology -- with communication another option -- will move to Manhattan in mid-January where he will enroll full time at Kansas State and begin winter workouts with the football team. He already has the playbook in hand, a system he is finding significantly more difficult to master than what he knew in high school.
At the same time, this is what he expects from a perennial Big 12 title contender and his happy to have the extra semester to learn it. Vital to Delton's chances of playing in the fall will be how he does in KSU's 15 spring practices, leading up to April's spring game.
"That's basically a time to get some of the guys back into it. For me it will be the first time competing in a K-State uniform and the first time for me really doing anything at that level yet," Delton said. "I'm studying right now the formations for the offensive passing schemes and stuff. Just looking at it on paper so much, it gets kind of tiring. I'm ready to actually do it on the field with your receivers and linemen. I really can't wait to finally get down there and start getting stuff done."
Until then, Delton has a few more weeks to enjoy being a fan. The Wildcats will wrap up their 2014-15 season on Jan. 2 when they play UCLA in the Alamo Bowl. Delton plans to watch the game from his grandparent's house where he can relax and just watch the game instead of breaking down every play.
Because the next time K-State takes the field, it will be with Delton in a K-State uniform and the real work will have begun.
"Probably the last time watching a K-State game on TV as a recruit. Next time I'll be a player," Delton said. "They are going to win, obviously. They are going against a good UCLA team. They have a good quarterback. I'm sure they'll do just fine. I'm sure they have a good game plan coming along for them."