Watch the K-State Wildcats practice as football season approaches
The Kansas State Wildcats will have to get by without their projected starter at fullback this season.
Adam Harter, a senior from Olathe who played in all 12 games and made four starts last year, had a season-ending knee injury last week in practice, K-State football coach Chris Klieman said at his weekly news conference on Tuesday.
“It was his first day back,” Klieman said. “He had some hamstring issues throughout the summer, but unfortunately for Adam he was injured. It was kind of a non-contact deal. He will miss the season.”
Klieman hopes Harter can receive a waiver from the NCAA that will allow him to heal and potentially play again in 2020, but Harter began his college football career by using a redshirt season at Butler Community College. For now, his future remains unclear.
“We are still trying to figure out where that will be,” Klieman said, “as far as getting his fifth year back.”
In the meantime, the Wildcats will turn to other players to take over at fullback. Potential replacements include Mason Barta, Luke Sowa and Jax Dineen.
Losing Harter could be a significant if they are unable to duplicate his production. New offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham likes to use fullbacks and tight ends in most formations, so it is an important position at K-State.
But Klieman doesn’t seem overly worried about that spot. In his eyes, fullbacks and tight ends are interchangeable. He wants them to learn both positions, so they can move anywhere within the offense.
That means Nick Lenners, Sammy Wheeler, Logan Long and Blaise Gammon could all get looks at fullback this season.
“At least we have the time to figure it all out,” Klieman said. “It is unfortunate that Adam was injured, but it’s not like it happened two days before the game. We have a number of guys we are going to keep rotating through. There is not going to be a set where the only thing you are is a tight end and the only thing you are is a fullback ... It will be a revolving door there, but a lot of guys are going to play.”
One tight end, in particular, learned he will receive extended playing time on Tuesday.
Lenners re-gained a year of eligibility after missing all but one game last season with an injury. He entered 2019 listed as a junior in K-State’s media guide, but he is now a sophomore on the team’s official roster.
The 6-foot-5, 252-pounder from Lincoln, Neb. will be eligible to help the Wildcats for three more seasons.
In the meantime, K-State may need to get creative to replace another injured player on defense this season.
Cody Fletcher, a junior linebacker, will miss the season opener against Nicholls because of an injured right foot. He was expected to provide depth at linebacker and start on special teams this season. But he has missed recent practices. On Monday he was spotted in a medical boot.
Klieman expects him to return to the field at some point during K-State’s nonconference schedule. Until he does, the Wildcats will turn to Daniel Green, Nick Allen and Eric Gallon for reserve help at linebacker.
“We are fortunate we are not losing Cody for very long,” Klieman said. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint. So we have to be careful with him.”