Bill Snyder was sitting behind the desk in his office, talking about a multitude of offseason football topics when a question brought the conversation to a screeching halt.
When was the last time you recruited a player from Lawrence?
Seven seconds of silence followed.
“I couldn’t answer the question,” said Snyder, K-State’s longtime football coach. “I don’t know. None come to mind.”
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There is a reason for that. The last time a Lawrence native wore a K-State uniform, Snyder was an assistant working his way up the coaching ladder. No Lawrence players have been listed on K-State’s roster since Snyder took over in 1989.
That will change in 2015.
Scott Frantz, a senior-to-be offensive lineman at Lawrence Free State High, gave an oral commitment to K-State in June. Frantz, a three-star prospect and the sixth-ranked recruit in the Sunflower State, according to Rivals, chose the Wildcats over his hometown Jayhawks and a handful of other schools.
The choice, Frantz said, was nothing personal. He simply sees the brightest future with K-State’s football program, which has averaged nine victories over the last four seasons.
“What got me there was just their long list of positives,” said Frantz, who has never seen K-State play live. “They didn’t have any negatives about them. Some programs have really big positives, but then things that are really big negatives. Kansas State didn’t have anything negative, just consistent positives. I love how K-State preaches the whole family atmosphere.”
Frantz announced his commitment on Twitter with a series of pictures, showing him in a K-State polo posing with Snyder and other K-State coaches at the Wildcats’ football stadium.
He enthusiastically shared the news quickly after he informed offensive-line coach Charlie Dickey and Snyder of his decision. But he did have one hesitation: Surely, his hometown friends would give him grief.
“Living in Lawrence, obviously being a heavy KU town, I expected maybe a little crap for committing to Kansas State,” Frantz said. “But I haven’t gotten any yet. Everyone has been really supportive. Everyone has been congratulating me the last couple days.”
So not even a little teasing?
“No,” Frantz said. “Everyone has been extremely supportive.”
As it turned out, the only difficult part of Frantz choosing K-State was finding purple clothes. After visiting what seemed like every sporting-goods store in town, he turned to social media for advice, asking his Twitter followers where he could find K-State gear in Lawrence.
The answer: Nowhere. Frantz had to shop online.
“I ordered quite a bit of gear,” Frantz said. “I have a polo on right now, which is what I committed in. I have that and then a K-State T-shirt and a pair of shorts I am also wearing right now. I ordered another pair of shorts, three Dri-Fit shirts and another T-shirt. I am good to go.”
It is rare to see a Lawrence football player to end up at K-State, but the reverse journey is also uncommon. You don’t see many Manhattan football players suit up for Kansas, either.
The last Manhattan High product to line up for the Jayhawks was Adrian Mayes, a walk-on who turned into a two-year starter on the offensive line before graduating in 2008.
Players from every part of the state have suited up for both programs in the last 25 years, but few have spurned their hometown college. Recruiting a prospect from so-called enemy territory isn’t easy for obvious reasons. Local coaches tend to have deep connections with local players, and local players tend to favor local schools.
Three Manhattan players are currently listed on K-State’s roster. One Lawrence player is currently listed on Kansas’ roster. There is no crossover.
That will change with Frantz, an improving 6-foot-5, 285-pound blocker.
“I went from being a nobody to a K-State commit,” Frantz said. “I have to thank all of my coaches for that. My sophomore year I was a backup tackle, 175 pounds, and I really wasn’t that good. My next year, I shot up to 250 pounds. I finally hit that stage where I filled out and devoted myself. I wanted to play college football, so I hit the weight room hard and ate a lot until I was slowly gaining five pounds a week.”
Idaho and Marshall noticed first, offering scholarships before he became a coveted recruit. Then Kansas, Iowa State, K-State, Missouri and Miami got involved. Ultimately, he faced a difficult decision.
Through it all, he favored the Wildcats in a way no Lawrence player has in 25 years.