Football isn’t fair.
That’s a lesson Kansas State freshman Scott Frantz learned at the start of preseason practices earlier this month.
Frantz faces one of the most difficult tasks of Wildcat. As the projected left tackle, he will try to replace former standout Cody Whitehair, a second-round pick now playing for the Chicago Bears. It’s unfair to expect him to play at the same level as a NFL blocker, at least right away, but that’s what coaches have asked of him.
“It’s tough, but that is just how this business works,” Frantz said. “If you are lined up and you are starting, you have got to get the job done. It doesn’t matter if you are a fifth-year senior or a true freshman, you have to produce and play at a high level. Expectations never change.”
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Frantz, a 6-foot-5, 293-pounder from Lawrence, is embracing the challenge.
It’s what he trained for last season when he took a redshirt and played for the scout team, pushing himself in the weight room and studying Whitehair’s technique. He learned a lot thanks to a good role model.
“Replacing Cody’s legacy here is quite a challenge, but Cody was such a great mentor to me and all the other young offensive linemen,” Frantz said. “He did a great job of getting me and a lot of other tackles ready. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation to be able to be under him for a year and learn how to do things the right way.”
Frantz will get to show off his progress quickly. He suspects those who watched him play two years ago will hardly recognize him.
He has added noticeable muscle. His speed has improved, too. In the past, he typically lined up against the biggest players on the opposing team. Now, he is capable of using his long arms and quick feet to keep smaller, faster pass-rushers away from the pocket.
“I like his foot speed and his quickness,” offensive line coach Charlie Dickey said. “He’s got some toughness about him, too. He tries to get better every day. If he keeps doing that, we will have a chance.”
Frantz will be joined by several new starters up front. The Wildcats lost everyone but center Dalton Risner from its offensive line last year, and he has since moved to right tackle.
Offensive coordinator Dana Dimel says Frantz is “loaded with upside.”
“He is really motivated and intelligent,” Dimel said. “He has a chance to be really good.”
That much is obvious by his placement on the offensive line. The Wildcats typically like to put their top blocker at left tackle, regardless of size.
Frantz will have to prove himself before he can live up to that label, but he’s not worried about that. Few things seem challenging compared to replacing Whitehair.
“We had really good starters last year, so people are going to be expecting young guys like me to step up and fill those roles,” Frantz said. “That is a huge challenge for us. We have got to live up to those expectations and pick up where they left off.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett