Picking the Kansas State football team was an easy sell for Cedric Dozier.
When Dozier, a senior defensive back, announced his intentions to leave California as a graduate transfer after playing in 34 games for the Golden Bears, he didn’t want an extravagant or drawn-out recruiting process.
Instead, he chose his new school based on the answer to a simple question: Does your defense need a veteran corner this season?
K-State’s response: An emphatic yes.
“That is all I needed to know,” Dozier said.
K-State coaches told Dozier exactly what he wanted to hear. The Wildcats need a corner in the worst possible way. Without a quick infusion of talent at corner, their secondary would have featured a gigantic hole.
Dante Barnett returns to lead the unit at strong safety and Kendall Adams has proven himself at free safety, but Duke Shelley is the only established corner on the roster. He will need help.
Dozier appears up for the task in his final college season.
“We all have high expectations for him,” Barnett said. “He is athletic and he also has experience, playing his first years at Cal. Anytime you can bring in someone who has as much experience as he does, you know he is going to help the team. I would love to see him make a difference at that position.”
It won’t be easy. Though many are expecting big things from Dozier because of his history (80 tackles and nine passes defended) as a 16-game starter in the Pac-12, there is a reason he left Cal. After starting every game as a sophomore, he was relegated to a backup role last season.
Without a clear path to playing time, Dozier opted to graduate early and transfer. He is eligible to play immediately.
Dozier can’t explain what went wrong with the Golden Bears, but a lack of interceptions (he hasn’t made one in college) might have led to his reduction in playing time.
He hopes to do more with a fresh start on a defense that struggled against the pass last season, allowing an average of 285.5 yards. Only seven Bowl Subdivision teams were worse.
“I will bring discipline and coverage,” Dozier said. “l am a very energetic guy. I am sure some other teammates will agree with that. I bring energy and I pride myself on being a cover guy.”
Sophomore receiver Byron Pringle says Dozier is also an excellent trash-talker.
“Cedric is quick and physical,” Pringle said. “He might be small, but he doesn’t play that way. He loves to work, he loves to talk and he loves to bring it. Everything he says, he backs up.”
K-State defensive coordinator Tom Hayes likes that about Dozier. That’s one of the reasons Dozier will get an opportunity to win a starting job. Hayes said junior-college transfer D.J. Reed is also in the mix.
“They have both given us quality depth at a need position,” Hayes said. “I expect both of them to really help our team this year. They are both going to play and compete.”
Though he didn’t transfer to K-State to watch from the sidelines, he understands he must earn respect from coaches and teammates before he can play.
The Wildcats rarely bring in graduate transfers for a one-year ride. Dozier has tried his best to boost team chemistry, instead of hurt it. Not an easy task as the new guy.
“I lucked out, because I came to a group of guys who were very receptive to me,” Dozier said. “All those guys were like, ‘Hey, you know we are rooting for you to come in and word hard.’ Once they saw I was here to work hard they were even more receptive to me.
“I just really appreciate that, because it could have been the other way around. They could have thought this guy is coming in thinking he is so good and they could have distanced themselves. But they didn’t do that. It was all love.”
Dozier would like to return the favor by helping them play strong defense in the season opener against Stanford, a team he has seen three times before.
“I am happy to get one more time to go out there and compete against them,” Dozier said. “What better group to go out there and do it with than this one?”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett