Don’t feel bad if you were caught off guard when Kansas State quarterback John Holcombe announced his intentions to transfer four games into his redshirt freshman season with the Wildcats on Tuesday.
“It came as a surprise,” K-State quarterbacks coach Collin Klein said Wednesday. “But after sitting down and talking to him, his mind was pretty made up. We wish him nothing but the best and appreciate all the work that he has given me and our program the last year and a half.”
Holcombe’s decision to transfer was a shocker for two main reasons:
1. He already used his redshirt while sitting out last season. So he can’t save another year of eligibility by playing in four or fewer games this season. If he transfers to another FBS school, he will have to sit out the remainder of this season and all of 2020 before being eligible to play in 2021, per NCAA transfer rules.
2. He has played meaningful snaps for the Wildcats as recently as last week.
Holcombe announced his transfer with a letter to fans on social media, but he didn’t provide any specific reasons for leaving. On Wednesday, he announced on Twitter that he had received scholarship offers from a pair of in-state community colleges: Butler and Hutchinson.
“We did have some discussion,” Klein said. “He did give some reasons. I don’t really want to go into his business. I don’t really want to go into that. Again, we had a conversation and he felt like it was the best thing for him.”
Holcombe exits K-State having completed one of three passes for nine yards. He also rushed for 71 yards on 13 carries.
Though Skylar Thompson is locked in as K-State’s starting quarterback, the Wildcats seemed committed to using Holcombe within their offense. He lined up at quarterback, receiver and tight end at times against Oklahoma State.
K-State football players said they found out about Holcombe’s transfer like everyone else when they checked Twitter.
“I had no idea that was coming,” K-State receiver Dalton Schoen said. “More than anything I was surprised by the timing of it. By my understanding of it he can’t go play anywhere else. He will have to sit out still. That was the biggest thing. But, at the end of the day, if someone wants to leave and that is what is best for them we just have to move on.”
That is exactly what the Wildcats will do at quarterback.
Nick Ast and Holcombe were thought to be interchangable as K-State’s primary backup passer, but that job belongs solely to Ast now. The sophomore from Cimarron will be the next man up if Thompson is unable to play at any point from now on.
Klein is “very confident” Ast will be ready, if called upon.
“He has got some different skill sets than Skylar does,” Klein said. “We would make the game plan fit those skill sets. I promise you there is no one that works harder than Nick.”
Jaren Lewis, a freshman from Columbia, Missouri, is now the third-string passer. Chris Herron, who has split time between quarterback and receiver, or Ryan Henington would likely be next in line.
“Those guys will step up,” Klein said. “It’s about the room providing the best quarterback play we can for the team. I have got all the confidence in the world in both of those guys (Ast and Lewis) and we will keep getting after it.”