Deciding to transfer was easy. Saying goodbye was painful.
That is how Daniel Sams describes the last month.
Sams, a Kansas State quarterback-turned-receiver, knew he wanted a fresh start elsewhere the moment he saw his name at the bottom of K-State’s depth chart leading up to the spring game a month ago. He craved playing time, and it was obvious he wasn’t going to receive it. Still, it took him until Monday to publicly announce he was seeking a transfer. His love for his teammates, coaches and fans made his plans difficult to act on.
“I started thinking about transferring the fourth practice of spring ball,” Sams said. “I waited to see how it worked out, but I wasn’t where I needed to be as a wide receiver. They had me at the bottom of the depth chart, which was fair.
“Fundamentally, I think I was a good receiver. But I wasn’t grasping the technique yet. I was catching the ball, and I’m athletic enough, but to be a Big 12 receiver and a guy who can go out there and beat the type of people we go against in the secondary, I just wasn’t ready. That was my honest assessment.”
Sams informed K-State football coach Bill Snyder he wanted to transfer after the spring game. Snyder tried to convince Sams to stay, meeting four times in Snyder’s office. Snyder told Sams he was welcome to move back to quarterback and complement starter Jake Waters next season. The door was also open for Sams to start at quarterback as a senior after Waters graduates.
The idea appealed to Sams, but his decision to transfer wasn’t based entirely around playing time. He also misses his family in Slidell, La. The recent death of his aunt hit his family hard, and he wants to see his great-grandmother more regularly.
“It was tough being away from them at times in Manhattan,” Sams said. “Nothing is more important to me than family. I miss them and they miss me. My situation at Kansas State wasn’t the best, so I felt like it was the right decision to leave.”
Sams spent three years at K-State and just completed his sophomore season, rushing for 807 yards and 11 touchdowns while throwing for 452 yards and four touchdowns. He split snaps with Waters, appearing in all 13 games, but Sams’ playing time diminished near the end of last season.
He chose to change positions to receiver in pursuit of increased playing time. He caught two passes for 9 yards during the spring game.
Sams has two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out his first year in Manhattan as a redshirt.
K-State has granted Sams a conditional release from his scholarship, allowing him to transfer to a Football Championship Subdivision school in Louisiana in order to be closer to home. He will eligible to play immediately.
Sams said he has already been contacted by McNeese State, Nicholls State and Southeastern Louisiana. He doesn’t know where he will end up, but he looks forward to returning to his natural position and his home state.
Telling his parents he was transferring was fun. Telling Snyder was the opposite.
“Going face to face with coach Snyder and telling him I didn’t want to be here anymore was maybe the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Sams said. “The relationship I have with the guy, man, it was tough telling him I wanted to leave. Nothing against him or Kansas State, I loved my time here. But with my situation in life I just needed a change.”
It was also hard for Sams to say goodbye to K-State’s fan base. He was overwhelmed to receive an outpouring of support around campus and on social media after announcing his intention to transfer.
“It feels good to know the fans will miss me,” Sams said. “It’s been a relief to see the fans respond the way they have. I figured people would think of me as a selfish person for the decision I made. Seeing this feedback has been amazing.”
Sams will remain in Manhattan for another week or two before moving home at the end of the month. He will relax and discuss transfer options with his family.
He says he will miss K-State. But he will try his best not to look back.
“I had the option to keep playing quarterback and do what I did last year with a little bit of receiver sprinkled in,” Sams said. “But my great-grandmother told me to follow my heart. Deep down in my heart I want to be a starting quarterback.
“Jake established himself as the starter, and I’m fine with that. That is why I offered to change positions. I hope he plays well next season and Kansas State wins every game, but I also want to play and be close to home. This was definitely one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, but life is filled with hard decisions. I felt like this was the right thing to do.”
To reach Kellis Robinett, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @KellisRobinett.