Kansas State may introduce some new players to the college football world this weekend.
The Wildcats face mounting injuries at quarterback, defensive back and receiver, and with No. 2 TCU up next on Saturday they don’t have adequate time to heal. K-State may require reinforcements, and there is only one place to find them — the scout team.
“We have worked a number of young guys that are freshmen — first-year freshmen — into our team periods,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said Tuesday. “So consequently we have prepared guys, if, indeed, we were to have some of the issues we are having right now. It certainly is a possibility. We have a number of young guys on both sides of the ball who are prepared.”
It is rare for Snyder to remove a redshirt on a freshman and begin playing him this deep into a season, but these are trying times.
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K-State has already lost quarterback Jesse Ertz for the season, while top defensive back Dante Barnett remains doubtful. Third-string quarterback Alex Delton is recovering from a knee injury, fourth-stringer Jonathan Banks is battling an illness and receiver/quarterback Kody Cook is questionable to play with an injured shoulder. On top of that, corner Morgan Burns and Dominique Heath were unable to finish the Oklahoma State game.
The injury list is so long Snyder joked about splitting Cook in two and letting him play quarterback and receiver at the same time.
In all seriousness, Snyder can’t recall a more banged up team at K-State, or elsewhere. Until last weekend, left guard Boston Stiverson and receiver Kyle Klein were also sidelined.
“We have certainly set the standard for it,” Snyder said of the injuries.
That’s why some of K-State’s youngest players are now candidates to play after planning to sit out the season to preserve a year of eligibility.
Snyder did not specify which players he might select to play against the Horned Frogs, but candidates include defensive back Duke Shelley, a four-star recruit from Tucker, Ga., Isaiah Zuber, a skilled receiver from Stone Mountain, Ga., and Denzel Goolsby, a former Bishop Carroll standout athlete.
Shelley could be the most likely choice, considering the reeling state of K-State’s secondary. Oklahoma State torched K-State’s defensive backs for 441 yards and four touchdowns last weekend. The unit could also use depth following the arrest of backup corner Cre Moore, who will likely serve a suspension.
The prospect of adding freshmen to an already young active roster does not thrill Snyder, but he will expect quality production from everyone he puts on the field. So will K-State players.
“We are going to keep expecting results,” freshman center Dalton Risner said. “I know this is not how we planned it or how we wanted it to go, but if we keep having these injuries I am sure we will start filtering through and be OK.”
Cook exceeded all expectations last week when he moved from receiver to quarterback and led K-State to a 28-13 lead.
Perhaps the Wildcats will also soon ask members of their scout team to step up.
“Football is a next-man-up business,” receiver Deante Burton said. “It’s not easy to deal with when you have a lot of guys shuffling in and out, but that really talks about what a team is like and what the coaches are like when a team can bounce back from multiple injuries and multiple guys not being there and really make plays.”