Still, his departure will have a significant impact on the Wildcats’ roster.
K-State will lack quarterback depth next season, as well as a proven option to lead the wildcat formation. Though Sams switched to receiver during spring practices and appeared in the mix for limited playing time at the position, he likely would have remained the top quarterback behind Jake Waters. And he almost certainly would have taken snaps out of the wildcat formation and been involved with trick plays the way he was last season when he amassed 1,259 yards of total offense and scored 15 touchdowns.
Without Sams, K-State will look to Jesse Ertz and Joe Hubener to provide depth behind Waters. That means an unproven quarterback will be an injury away from the field next season. Ertz, a redshirt freshman, was a standout high school passer in Iowa and he has a big arm. But he didn’t do much in last month’s spring game, completing 9 of 13 passes for 43 yards. Hubener, a sophomore, looked better completing 11 of 16 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown. Neither has played in a regular-season game.
That will place increased importance on Waters to stay healthy.
Before K-State announced Waters as the starter over Sams last fall, co-offensive coordinator Dana Dimel said he enjoyed having a legitimate quarterback competition for a change. No matter who won the starting job, Dimel said he was confident in both of their abilities. For the first time in years, K-State had two quarterbacks it felt good about. It had depth.
“Daniel is going to have his role,” Dimel said last August. “If he’s not starting he will play. He’s not going to sit and watch. He is still going to play quarterback. Whoever wins it, the other guy has got to be ready to play, as well. That’s the biggest thing.
“The last couple years we haven’t really had that luxury. We have been on pins and needles. The first guy goes down and we are scrambling on offense. Now if the first guy goes down, there isn’t going to be that big of a difference.”
That is no longer the case.
Of course, Sams will likely be missed more in 2015. Had he remained at K-State, he would have been in line to start as a senior. Now there is no obvious succession play after Waters graduates.
Ertz and Hubener will both be options. So will current Hays quarterback Alex Delton, but he will be a true freshman. This is where a late de-commitment from Humble, Texas quarterback prospect Aaron Sharp to UCLA hurts. Don’t be surprised if the Wildcats try and recruit another junior-college quarterback in an attempt to add some older competition at the position the way they did with Waters. They could also seek a transfer.
One thing is for sure: without Sams, K-State must reanalyze its quarterback situation.