Wednesday afternoon was Bill Snyder’s first opportunity to speak publicly about most of the 24 players Kansas State signed in its latest recruiting class, but not all.
Three members of the group — Hays (Kan.) quarterback Alex Delton, Pittsburg (Kan.) running back Alex Barnes and Trinity Academy (Fla.) defensive end Joshua Little — have been on campus since the spring semester began.
That number is unusually high for the Wildcats, who typically get one or two early enrollees from junior college and none from high school. Snyder has only been their coach for a few weeks, and he won’t be able to work with them on the field until spring practices begin, yet he already likes having them around. No one more than Delton, who will compete for a starting spot right away at the game’s most important position.
“When you think about it, that obviously puts him way ahead of other young guys that play the same position,” Snyder said during a news conference in Manhattan, Kan., on national signing day. “That would be true of anybody who would come early. They move forward quickly. It is of great value.”
Snyder suggests K-State was one of the first colleges to admit a football player early when former quarterback Brian Kavanagh arrived in Manhattan in 1993. So Snyder is no stranger to working with freshmen a semester early.
He recommends early enrollment to any incoming recruit who expresses interest, and hopes future K-State prospects continue to show interest.
Still, Snyder is wary to advise any recruit to skip a semester of his senior year in high school. He says that is what he advises his own children and grandchildren to do. If they want to play football and then basketball and then baseball before the start of college, he encourages it.
Early enrollment will never be a requirement.
“I don’t want to discourage any young guys from enjoying their senior year in high school,” Snyder said, “because they only get one opportunity and they should experience it. It is up to them on what to do.”
That didn’t stop him from praising Delton on his early work habits, though. When asked for his thoughts on the race to replace Jake Waters at quarterback, Snyder said he had confidence in Joe Hubener, a backup last season, and reserves Jesse Ertz and Taylor Laird. But Snyder also thinks Delton will be in the mix.
“I don’t recall starting a freshman,” Snyder said of the quarterback position,” but I think he will be competitive because of the things he is capable of doing.”
Enrolling early will help Delton in pursuit of playing time.
Snyder thinks it will also help Delton — and Barnes and Little — in other areas.
“For somebody who is interested, just think about the value of coming a semester early,” Snyder said. “You really have 5 1/2 years of eligibility that you can actually be on scholarship. When you think about our guys, who are diligent students that get through in four years, that gives them two years to get a second degree or, more significantly, a master’s degree. And you can get it while you are still on campus and on scholarship. That is a great value.”
Dealing with de-commitments
K-State lost a pair of touted commitments late in the recruiting process when defensive backs Mohamed Barry and Kylan Johnson flipped to Nebraska and Florida, respectively. But Snyder said he wasn’t bothered by their defections.
“There is some disenchantment and maybe some disappointment, but when you step away from it you realize we made a mistake,” Snyder said, “because now you realize you made a mistake. That doesn’t mean every guy is bad because he changes his mind. We want guys who understand what a commitment is all about.”
College football coaches and athletic directors are discussing the possibility of adding an early signing period for football players, similar to what is seen in basketball and other sports. That change would help schools hold onto players who de-commit late, but Snyder said he is not in favor of changing the system.
Light on transfers
Aulelio Olomua, a defensive end from Mesa (Ariz.) Community College is the only junior-college transfer in K-State’s 2015 class. That is a rare sight for a program that has taken pride in recruiting junior colleges.
Snyder said K-State did not intend to recruit so few transfers, saying the Wildcats did a poor job in that area. However, he is holding back a handful of scholarships in hopes of adding more in the spring or summer.
Bryce English and Elijah Sullivan boosted K-State’s recruiting class by choosing the Wildcats on Wednesday.
English, a 5-foot-11, 318-pound defensive tackle, is rated as the nation’s 30th-best defensive lineman, per Rivals.
Sullivan, a 6-foot-1, 204-pound linebacker had been committed to Auburn for months. But the Tigers asked him to defer enrollment to the spring of 2016 — becoming a grayshirt — late in the process, so he switched to K-State.
Kansas State football signings
Early enrollees (5)
Pittsburg (Kan.) HS
Hays (Kan.) HS
Tucker (Ga.) HS
Trinity Christian HS (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Columbia Rock Bridge HS
Signed on Wed. (19)
Mill Valley HS
Shawnee Mission East HS
Wichita Trinity Academy
Flower Mound (Texas) HS
Horton (Kan.) HS
Aledo (Texas) HS
DeSoto (Texas) HS
Lawrence Free State HS
Wichita Bishop Carroll HS
Cartersville (Ga.) HS
Seward (Neb.) HS
Carl Junction (Mo.) HS
Montgomery (Ala.)Academy HS
Mesa (Ariz.) CC
Lawton (Okla.) HS
Tucker (Ga. ) HS
Tucker (Ga.) HS
Ponchatoula (La.) HS
Stephenson HS (Stone Mountain, Ga.)