MANHATTAN — Kansas State unveiled its 2013 recruiting class on Wednesday, highlighted by two four-star high school recruits and a trio of players from NJCAA champion Iowa Western, including Jake Waters, the top-rated junior-college quarterback in the nation.
Two of Waters’ teammates, defensive end Devon Nash and defensive back Travis Green are both already on campus with Waters and participating in winter conditioning.
Waters (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) is expected to compete with Daniel Sams to be the starter. Sams backed up Collin Klein last season.
“We’re hoping it becomes a very competitive environment,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “It’s important (Waters) is already here because he can go out and throw and catch with the other quarterbacks and receivers and take part in spring practice.
“He is someone I watched an awful lot of film on. It was important for (co-offensive coordinator Del Miller) to see him in person, to see him do some of the physical things that you don’t always see on tape. The people at his community college speak highly of him in regards to his leadership capacity and the physical skills he possesses.”
After a quarterback, the Wildcats’ biggest needs appear to be on the defensive front, where they lose all four starters, including All-Big 12 defensive end Meshak Williams, a junior-college transfer similar to Nash.
K-State also signed Chris Brown, a 6-4, 345-pound defensive tackle from Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College. Brown also had offers from Utah and Washington State.
“We would have liked to have added more depth (on the defensive line),” Snyder said. “Today isn’t the end of the process for this particular class, you want as many interior defensive linemen as you can get, but so does every other football program in the country. It seems to be the most complex position to recruit to.
“It’s important for (Nash) to come in and be here right now. We don’t bring community college guys in to sit and watch. The hope is that he will make it a very competitive environment, that the players we have will make him better and he will make them better.”
Conway Springs’ Tanner Wood (6-4, 237 pounds), and 6-1, 228-pound Nick Ramirez of Lee’s Summit (Mo.) West are the four-star recruits. Snyder debunked a long-standing assumption that Wood, an Eagle Top 11 running back and linebacker in high school, would be automatically placed on defense with the Wildcats. Jordan Willis, a 6-5, 260-pound defensive end from Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst could also contribute quickly.
Wood committed to K-State before his junior season.
“Tanner will have his pick in regards to where he wants to play,” Snyder said. “We see him playing on both sides of the ball. ... We don’t usually offer as early as we did in this instance, but we felt strongly about him and felt like it was the right thing to do.”
Ramirez could also see playing time right away.
“We feel like (Ramirez) could contribute. ... We lose some linebackers, so I think anybody that’s coming in there, we’ll take a hard look at where they stand,” Snyder said. “(Ramirez) is one of those guys that already has a good understanding of the position and goes hard from whistle to whistle.”
Snyder said up to eight members of the recruiting class could end up as walk-ons, and up to three could be grayshirts — high schoolers who graduate in 2013 but don’t start classes at K-State until Spring 2014.
Sticking around — Snyder addressed the five-year contract extension he signed Jan. 31 that will keep him as coach through 2017.
“The fact that we lost a couple of recruits was probably because I did come back,” Snyder joked. “I really don’t know if (the contract) has an impact on anybody. As long as I feel like I’m doing right by the university and the program and staying in decent health and helping young people, I’ll be around for awhile.
“If not, I won’t. It’s that simple.”