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Buffalo Wild Wing notes K-State bowl notes: Daniel Sams willing to change positions in search for playing time

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, at 7:05 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, at 7:38 p.m.

— Daniel Sams was the secondary option in Kansas State’s two-quarterback system as a sophomore.

He is willing to remain in that role as a junior, but he is also open to the idea of something else.

On Thursday during a Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl news conference, Sams said his desire to “be on the field and help my teammates win” has grown large enough that he will ask K-State coach Bill Snyder for his opinion on a position change next season. He likes the idea of playing receiver while Jake Waters is at quarterback.

“I haven’t discussed that with any of the coaches. Our focus is on Michigan at this point,” Sams said. “But I will talk to Coach Snyder about it. I just want him to know I want to be on the field.… When that time comes we will see how it goes.”

This isn’t the first time Sams has considered moving from quarterback. The athletic Louisiana native asked Snyder if he could switch to receiver as a freshman when he backed up Collin Klein. Sams told Snyder he played multiple positions in high school and was willing to do the same in college. Snyder, though, emphatically denied the request, telling Sams he recruited him to play quarterback, and he was going to stay at quarterback.

When Klein graduated the door opened for Sams to win the starting job. But Waters, a junior-college transfer, beat him out for the job in the preseason and has started every game since.

Sams played in every game this season, rushing for 784 yards and 11 touchdowns and serving as the primary quarterback in narrow losses to Oklahoma State and Baylor. But his playing time decreased as the season progressed and Waters threw for 2,198 yards and 15 touchdowns.

More time on the sideline hit Sams hard, and he was noticeably upset at the conclusion of games against Texas and Kansas. Sams said it was difficult to play just one series during those games, but stayed positive for the good of the team.

“This season has been all over the map,” Sams said. “It has been crazy, up and down. But I honestly enjoyed it, because it made me a better team player. I had to grow into a leadership role. It just helped me in my maturation process and helped me grow into a man.”

Former quarterback Justin Tuggle successfully made the transition to linebacker as a senior, and Klein started his career at receiver at K-State. This has been done before.

Still, Snyder may need some convincing.

“It is just going to depend on what the need is at the time,” Snyder said. “When he prepares himself well, he does pretty well underneath center. We will dissect it when the season is over, but I don’t see any foreseeable change. Maybe we could give him some additional responsibilities.”

Zimmerman returns, again — A year ago, Ty Zimmerman recovered from a late-season ankle injury in time to play in Kansas State’s bowl game. He is doing the same now.

Zimmerman, a senior safety who has earned all-conference honors in four straight seasons, is ready to take the field for his final game in a K-State uniform after spending parts of November and December on crutches and watching senior day at Snyder Family Stadium from the sideline.

“The time frame was obviously a little bit shorter,” Zimmerman said. “But it was the exact same injury, opposite leg, same team (TCU), 10th game of the season. It was a little eerie, but I have been able to take some positives out of it.”

The biggest positive: Zimmerman watched hours of extra Michigan video while he was healing.

A year ago, Zimmerman struggled at times during the Fiesta Bowl. He showed rust. He doesn’t think that will happen again.

“This year has been a little bit easier for me, because I have been through it before,” Zimmerman said. “Hopefully that will help me out in the game.”

Cantele out for bowl — Kansas State kicker Jack Cantele won’t play in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, according to sources.

Cantele, a sophomore kicker from Kapaun Mt. Carmel, is dealing with a nagging injury that has sidelined him since the Oklahoma game. He made 11 of 13 field goals this year. Ian Patterson will handle kicking duties in his place.

Offensive lineman Keenan Taylor is also expected to miss the game. Neither he nor Cantele have participated in practices this week.

No wings? — K-State defensive end Ryan Mueller has dined at a handful of exotic restaurants since arriving in the Phoenix area on Monday, but he hasn’t eaten at the restaurant he expected to encounter most: Buffalo Wild Wings.

“I’m a little surprised I haven’t had a chicken wing yet,” Mueller said. “But the trip isn’t over yet.”

Reach Kellis Robinett at krobinett@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @kellisrobinett.

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