Bill Snyder says K-State’s Daniel Sams is focusing on playing wide receiver

04/08/2014 11:30 PM

04/08/2014 11:30 PM

For Daniel Sams, the future is clear.

Sams, Kansas State’s junior playmaker, has switched positions from quarterback to wide receiver. If all goes well in spring practices, Sams will stay there for the rest of his college career.

“Right now he is just focusing at the wide-receiver position,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said Tuesday at his first football news conference of the spring.

“That doesn’t eliminate anything; it’s just he wants to play there. I am going to give him the opportunity.”

Sams played quarterback in all 13 games last season, amassing 1,259 total yards and 15 touchdowns, but he didn’t start any of those games. Jake Waters emerged as the starter, and Sams openly discussed the possibility of a position change before the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

If Sams couldn’t help the Wildcats at quarterback, maybe he could as a receiver. He said he would discuss the idea with Snyder.

Sams didn’t know what to expect. Turns out, Snyder had an open mind.

“The dialogue I had with Daniel was: I want you to be happy,” Snyder said. “I want to see you on the field. Because he approached me about playing as a wide receiver, I made my recommendations to him, but I said I would certainly abide by his and give him a chance 

“If he wants to go out and be a wide receiver, he needs to go out and be a wide receiver and let reality set in.”

Snyder has a successful track record when it comes to finding new positions for quarterbacks. Former standout safety Ty Zimmerman entered K-State’s program as a quarterback. So did former linebacker Justin Tuggle, former running back Daniel Thomas and former safety Tysyn Hartman. Even Collin Klein briefly played receiver as a freshman before switching back to quarterback, where he became a Heisman finalist.

Sams, who did not attend Tuesday’s news conference, is hoping for a similar transition. He has been respected both as a leader and a playmaker. He didn’t want to waste those qualities as a backup quarterback. Neither did Snyder, especially with young quarterbacks Joe Hubener and Jesse Ertz showing promise behind Waters.

“He has got to be on the field,” Snyder said of Sams. “We have got to find the spot.”

How high up the depth ch

art can he climb?

The Wildcats appear loaded at receiver. Senior Tyler Lockett may be the Big 12’s top returning receiver, Curry Sexton started seven games last year, Deante Burton is a rising talent, Kyle Klein has all the physical tools, and so do Andre Davis and Judah Jones.

For now, Snyder likes what Sams is doing.

“I like the way he is working at it,” Snyder said. “He has made some progress. There have been some ups and downs in there, as well, but he has learned some of the nuances, not as well as he needs to, about the position. He studies it pretty hard and is working on it. He has got skill. Everyone understands that. He can make you miss sometimes.”

Robinson leads way

One of K-State’s most intriguing position battles of the spring is running back. Three-year starter John Hubert is gone, and so is his backup, Robert Rose. Snyder said the candidates are DeMarcus Robinson, Charles Jones and Jarvis Leverett. At this moment, Robinson, a senior, has a slight edge. But Snyder wants to see how he handles a larger workload this spring. Robinson has rushed for 45 yards in his career as a third-string option.

Cantele kicking again

A nagging back injury prevented Jack Cantele from kicking at full strength last season. He missed three games after connecting on 11 of 13 field goals. On Tuesday, he said he was fully recovered and ready to kick at the spring game.

Offseason evaluations

When Snyder was asked to grade his team’s offseason work, he didn’t pass along stellar marks. He said 85 percent of the team met or exceeded expectations, 10 percent remained stagnant and 5 percent returned to practice in poor shape.

Ailing foot

Snyder wore a walking boot on his left foot Tuesday, a lingering sign of foot surgery after K-State’s bowl game. In past weeks, he has walked on crutches. Snyder didn’t indicate why he required surgery, but he said he would need the walking boot for a few more weeks.

“It’s fine,” Snyder said. “It’s just frustrating is all.”

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