Kansas State University

Observations from K-State football practice as Wildcats prepare for spring showcase

Take a look at K-State football practice this spring

Take a look at K-State football practice this spring
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Take a look at K-State football practice this spring

The Kansas State Wildcats allowed media to watch a portion of football practice on Monday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Here are some observations from the spring workout:

Position change for D.J. Render?

Kansas State recruited D.J. Render out of Kennesaw, Ga. as a wide receiver three years ago, but the Wildcats had him practicing at a different position on Monday.

Render, a 5-foot-10, 191-pound athlete, was wearing a white jersey and running with the safeties on defense.

It’s unclear if K-State coach Chris Klieman is simply trying Render as a defensive back this spring or if the move is more permanent. But he seemed to fit into his new role, showing good awareness and running to the ball as well as anyone else at his position.

Render is a redshirt junior who has played in 10 games for the Wildcats. He has not recorded any stats in college after starring on offense for North Cobb High School.

An active head coach

One thing is clear about Klieman: He is not a CEO type head coach during practice.

Klieman was all over the field on Monday, dancing and joking with players as they warmed up and then running right along with defensive backs during individual drills.

That is a noticeable change at K-State football practice. Former coach Bill Snyder liked to observe from afar and whisper notes into a tape recorder he could use later. Klieman, a former safety at Northern Iowa, takes a more hands on approach. He likes to get low to the ground and demonstrate technique to his players whenever he can.

Challenging drills

Speaking of active football coaches, Jason Ray seems to have found a unique way to challenge K-State receivers during practice. Ray, the Wildcats’ new receivers coach, had each of his players line up next to him while another assistant lobbed jump balls their way.

While the ball was in the air, Ray picked up a large pad and whacked K-State receivers like he was on the classic TV show “American Gladiators.”

The drill seemed to pay off. Most of K-State receivers were able to fight through the distraction and make leaping catches.

Hunter Rison looks ready to make an impact

It should come as no surprise that Michigan State transfer Hunter Rison had an impressive showing. Players and coaches have singled him out for weeks as one of the team’s top spring playmakers, and he backed up the hype here.

Everytime K-State quarterbacks threw the ball his way, he found a way to make the catch and turn up field yardage.

His best catch of the open portion of practice came on a short route in which he faked his defender into thinking he was going deep. When he stopped and turned for the pass, no white jerseys were anywhere near him. He had lots of room to maneuver.

Motion offense

The Wildcats are going to utilize a lot of pre-snap motion next under new offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham. That much was obvious by watching K-State quarterbacks, receivers and running backs practice jet-sweep hand offs for five straight minutes.

Messingham utilizes lots of misdirection with his plays and loves to get playmakers involved with jet sweeps and pitches. The threat of sweeps and reversals will be present on plenty of K-State plays next season.

Injury report

There were more K-State football players in uniform than there were two weeks ago, when Klieman last invited reporters to view a portion of practice. But there were also a large number of players who were limited on Monday.

Inactive players included Isaiah Zuber, Brock Monty, Cameron Key, Carlos Emanuel and Shane Cherry.

Fourteen players participated in practice while wearing red limited contact jerseys. Some notable members of that group: Nick Lenners, Kevion McGee, Malik Knowles, Marcus Hayes, Johnathan Durham, Elijah Sullivan, Kyle Ball, Tyler Burns and Harry Trotter.

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