Midway through spring practices, Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder told a roomful of reporters that Dalvin Warmack was capable of “making things interesting” when the soon-to-be freshman becomes part of the Wildcats’ search for a starting running back.
When word of Snyder’s comments reached Warmack at his home in Blue Springs, one thought ran through his mind.
“Time to get to work,” said Warmack, who will move to Manhattan on June 1. “Coming from him that meant a lot to me. But it also made me realize it’s not high school football anymore. I need to up my game and start working out more. I need to run extra sprints and get in the weight room and spend more time on the track. That motivated me to work harder.”
True freshmen rarely get on the field at K-State, but Warmack appears to have the talent and mind-set to challenge for a starting job.
Warmack, a 5-foot-8 running back, capped a stellar high school career by rushing for 2,223 yards and 29 touchdowns and helping Blue Springs win a state championship as a senior. He later became the first two-time winner of the Simone Award, presented annually to the top high school football player in the Kansas City area.
After the season ended, Warmack shifted his focus to K-State’s head-start program. He spends most nights studying plays and following precise exercise demands. The plan is to make his transition to college football as smooth as possible.
“My expectations are, if I’m allowed to and ready to, to get a little playing time or contribute to the team somehow on special teams as a freshman,” Warmack said. “I talked to (co-offensive coordinator) Dana Dimel after the spring game, and he said he didn’t want to add any extra pressure, but he wanted me to come in and compete.
“He likes what the running backs are doing right now, but he thinks I can bring something different to the table and complement what the running backs do.”
Warmack will join a jumbled position battle that features DeMarcus Robinson, Charles Jones, Judah Jones and Jarvis Leverett. Robinson, a senior, is the only player with game experience, but he missed the spring game because of an injury. Charles Jones stepped in and took every snap with the starting offense, but Leverett and Judah Jones also had their moments with the backups.
Snyder had few compliments for the group, which is trying to replace three-year starter John Hubert, often criticizing their consistency. He made it clear that a starter won’t be announced until the season approaches.
That leaves an opening for Warmack to become the first K-State freshman to get significant playing time at running back since 2006.
“He is explosive, and I could see him coming in and making an impact,” said fellow incoming freshman and Blue Springs linebacker Elijah Lee. “As long as I have known him, he has never been a guy to sit back and watch.”
Indeed, Warmack is already focusing on the future. He understands adjusting to college tackles could be challenging, so he is doing everything he can to strengthen his body.
“I don’t have that extra 30 pounds or those extra inches everybody else does,” Warmack said. “But I take a lot of pride in my body, building a good base and core. I definitely feel like that, with my explosiveness and vision, will translate to the next level.”
Warmack is ready to find out. He was the first member of K-State’s 2014 recruiting class, committing shortly after his junior season. He has been looking forward to wearing a Wildcat uniform, and possibly starting as a freshman.
“My mind-set going in will be to compete and win that No. 1 spot,” Warmack said. “If I don’t get it, I will be fine. My turn will come someday, but I want to go in with that mentality so I am ready to go.”