Chris Klieman and his Kansas State football staff scarcely had a chance to catch their breath before the early national signing day.
But after cobbling together a 15-member recruiting class in December, they were able to step back and assess their situation for the second go-round.
The result, on Wednesday’s second signing day was a much smaller haul — seven, to be exact — but one targeted to their specific needs.
“I think the biggest thing we were looking for in the second half of the signing period was to continue to shore up our skill positions as well as the (defensive) tackle position,” Klieman said Wednesday during a press conference to announce the recruiting class. “And the one thing, talking as a staff this afternoon, was the amount of speed that we have in this class.
“That’s something that we went out and tried to make sure that we were able to hit those things as far as getting the fast kids, whether it’s a running back, whether it’s a (defensive back), wide receiver, whatever it may be. Because they can play a lot of different things and they can be really versatile.”
True to that plan, the Wildcats signed five skill position players — two running backs, two defensive backs and a wide receiver — along with a pair of big defensive tackles. All seven are freshmen.
K-State traditionally has hit the states of Texas and Oklahoma hard, in addition to Kansas and Missouri, but Klieman and his staff cast a wide net to snare their final seven.
They plucked speedy wide receiver Joshua Youngblood from Tampa, Fla., defensive back Tyrone Lewis from Hammond, La., defensive tackle Kenny Givens from Chicago and defensive back Kenyon Reed from Long Beach, Calif. Then there’s Matthew Pola-Mao, a 6-foot-3, 309-pound defensive tackle from Chandler, Ariz., plus running backs Thomas Grayson from Tulsa, Okla., and Clyde Price from North High School in Kansas City, Mo.
“We’re still going to hammer the footprint area, which is Kansas, and the Kansas City area and Missouri,” Klieman said. “Obviously the state of Texas is always going to be big.
“But I think you have to be able to nationally recruit. Kansas State has a national name, and has a national brand, and so for us to be able to get some kids in different areas.”
Klieman turned to a personal connection with the Berkeley Prep coach in Tampa to get Youngblood, whom he called “kind of the steal of the class.”
“This kid’s an electric football player, and I’ve had really good success with Tampa-area kids,” Klieman said.
In Tulsa, they got Grayson from Booker T. Washington, the same high school that produced former Wildcat standouts Tyler Lockett and Dante Barnett.
“The Lockett name resonates with these kids and we’re going to continue to use the Lockett name,” Klieman said.
Defensive line coach Mike Tuiasasopo has bolstered recruiting in the West, where K-State got both Reed, another speedster, and massive tackle Pola-Mao.
“I don’t know if there’s a better recruiter out on the West Coast than Tui, and he was able to get a couple of great ones,” Klieman said.
Closer to home, they got Price out of North Kansas City High School.
“With Clyde, a bigger back is something we were looking for,” Klieman said of Price, a 6-1, 220-pounder. “It’s hard to find big backs that can really run and when you get them in your backyard you need to try to keep them.”
Running back was a major concern from the moment Klieman took the job. With 1,000-yard rusher Alex Barnes leaving for the NFL after his junior season and top two backups Dalvin Warmack and Justin Silmon both seniors, it left a major void.
They signed graduate transfer James Gilbert and freshman Joe Ervin from Rock Hill, S.C. in the early period, then added Grayson and Price on Wednesday.
″(It was) a huge question mark,” Klieman said. “When we were hired there wasn’t anybody on scholarship, so we went out and were able to get James Gilbert as a grad transfer, and then to be able to fill in with a few more with Clyde Price, Joe Ervin as well and Thomas Grayson, competition is always big.
“Everybody has the opportunity to play early. If you watch our system, we’re going to play with two and three backs at times, so we need a lot of those type of guys.”
The 23-member overall recruiting class — defensive back Jonathan Alexander, a transfer from Kilgore (Texas) College signed in January — breaks down with six defensive backs, four running backs, three defensive tackles and two each of offensive linemen, quarterbacks and receivers. There’s also one linebacker, one fullback, one kicker and a tight end.
KANSAS STATE 2019 RECRUITING LIST
EARLY SIGNING DAY
Cooper Beebe, Kansas City Piper;DT;6-3;329
Jax Dineen, Lawrence Free State;FB;5-11;230
Khalid Duke, Atlanta;LB;6-4;225
Joe Ervin, Rock Hill, S.C.;RB;5-10;190
Konner Fox, San Antonio;TE;6-5;225
Keenan Garber, Lawrence Free State;WR;6-0;175
Chris Herron, Houston;QB;6-1;194
William Jones II, Mansfield, Texas;DB;5-11;170
Jaren Lewis, Columbia, Mo.;QB;6-3;215
Taylor Poitier, Shawnee Mission Miege;OL;6-3;250
Trevor Stange, Coppell, Texas;OL;6-4;272
Logan Wilson, Dallas;DB;5-11;170
Ty Zentner, Butler CC;PK;6-2;185
*Jonathan Alexander, Kilgore (Texas);DB;6-3;205
James Gilbert, Ball State;RB;5-9;198
Marcus Hayes, New Mexico;DB;6-0;192
FEB. 6 SIGNING DAY
Kenny Givens, Chicago;DT;6-4;272
Thomas Grayson, Tulsa, Okla.;RB;6-0;190
Tyrone Lewis, Hammond, La.;DB;6-0;190
Matthew Pola-Mao, Chandler, Ariz.;DT;6-3;309
Clyde Price, Kansas City, Mo.;RB;6-1;220
Kenyon Reed, Long Beach, Calif.;DB;6-0;165
Joshua Youngblood, Tampa, Fla.;WR;5-11;170