In the middle of July, Kansas State senior linebacker Jonathan Truman returned home, to Wichita, to do a favor for an old friend.
The friend, Arthur Brown, had a lot to tell him. And vice versa.
“Obviously, Arthur knows what he’s doing, on and off the field, he always has a plan,” Truman said. “We’ve spent a lot of time together, so just watching him develop and us being people with similar attitudes … we developed a relationship, a lot of trust.”
With Truman’s apprenticeship at K-State under Brown — a former All-American and second-year linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens — long behind him, he finds himself in the position Brown once occupied for the Wildcats.
That is, a senior at the heart of the defense on a team with Big 12 title aspirations.
Truman, who is 5 feet 11 inches and 219 pounds, came to K-State as a walk-on and redshirted in 2010. He was a backup linebacker to Brown and a special-teams standout in 2011 and 2012, when he led the Wildcats with 12 special-teams tackles during their Big 12 co-championship season.
Now, he’s coming off a year in which he was second on the team with 89 tackles and started all 13 games as K-State went 8-5 and beat Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, snapping a five-game bowl losing streak. He’s also a preseason All-Big 12 pick by Athlon (second team) and Phil Steele’s College Football Preview (third team).
Truman welcomed the chance to catch up with his old friend as one of the counselors at Brown’s youth football camp last month — a short break from the mass amount of work he put in during the summer.
“My parents actually live north of Wichita, in Kechi, so I like to come home to say what’s up to the family whenever I can because we have the weekends off,” Truman said. “And for Arthur’s thing, obviously.”
Truman is the lone returning starter at linebacker, which opens the season Aug. 30 against Stephen F. Austin in Manhattan. The Wildcats were picked third in the Big 12 preseason poll, behind Oklahoma and Baylor.
“I’m not sure there are a lot of guys I would trade Jonathan for,” K-State linebackers coach Mike Cox said. “He is tough, strong and processes information at a very quick rate. That he got to spend that time playing with Arthur and the relationship they developed turned out to be a pretty good thing.
“I wasn’t surprised by the year he had last year, not at all. He puts the work in and he’s well-prepared. The way he works is why he plays well every week.”
Truman’s work ethic and dedication have endeared him to fans and teammates — old and new — and he’s a team captain this year.
“I think he’s still developing, still getting better and he’s going to have another great year,” linebacker Charmeachelle Moore said. “I like being around him for a lot of reasons ... he’s chill, he’s laid-back and he’s one of the hardest workers on the team.”
Truman’s work this summer is evident just by looking at him. He put on about 5 pounds of solid muscle.
“We have our expectations for ourselves, and there are the expectations that other people have for us,” Truman said. “We enjoy being the underdog because we get to prove people wrong, but I guess how we show people what kind of team we are begins with our hard work and our preparation. That’s what leads to success.”