Daniel Sams isn’t the type of quarterback who jogs onto the field or looks for the sideline when defenders close on him. He sprints his way into the huddle and fights for yards in every situation.
So when Sams, a Kansas State sophomore, is asked about the wear and the tear associated with carrying the ball 30 times in a game, it comes as little surprise to see him respond positively.
“I wasn’t worried about taking hits at that time. I was trying to win the game,” Sams said. “It was working. So if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”
Sams has seen his rushing production and usage spike in the last two games. After rushing for 205 yards and three touchdowns in 29 carries in K-State’s first four games, he ran for a combined 317 yards and four touchdowns in 57 carries against Oklahoma State and Baylor. Those big outings made Sams the team’s leading rusher and gave the Wildcats a shot at pulling upsets against ranked opponents. They also left Sams exhausted and sore.
That, of course, raises the question: How many carries are too many for Sams?
The K-State record for quarterback carries in a game is 35, set in 2011 by former Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein. Allen Webb, with 34 carries in 2004, is the only other K-State quarterback to have more carries in a game than Sams’ 30 against Baylor.
Those numbers would concern some, including K-State coach Bill Snyder.
“You are always concerned,” Snyder said. “I am concerned about an offensive lineman who takes 70 snaps a ballgame or a defensive lineman or anybody else. They all get hit. It’s a physical game and there is wear involved, as evidenced. You’ve got a lot of players who have been out, and it has taken a great toll on their health. That’s the nature of the game. And it’s that way for everybody, not just us.”
The strange aspect of Sams’s rush count is that he is in a two-quarterback system. Imagine how many carries he would get if Jake Waters wasn’t in the picture.
It’s worth pointing out, though, that Waters has seen a reduced role with top receivers Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson sidelined. They are expected to return against West Virginia on Saturday, so Sams may see more rest than he has in recent games.
But Snyder said this week he plans on using both quarterbacks, as he has all season. So who knows?
Whatever happens, Sams, like Klein before him, isn’t worried. He doesn’t mind the side-effects of a run-heavy game plan. He has no problem running the ball whenever K-State’s coaches ask him to. He is fast, agile and seems comfortable on the move.
“I was comfortable with that since day one,” Sams said. “I learned a lot from Collin.”
His teammates insist Sams could handle even more carries, if necessary.
“He’s tough,” freshman fullback Glenn Gronkowski said. “Just how hard he runs and the hits he takes, I know that can’t feel too good in quarterback pads. The number of rushes he has, you have to be tough in order to do that. But he loves that. He is in there getting everyone hyped, getting everyone going. He is loving it out there.”