MANHATTAN — A buzz has been quietly growing around the Kansas State football complex for several weeks, and it reached its peak on Wednesday when the Wildcats announced their latest recruiting class.
They think this might be the most talented group they have assembled in years.
Of the 28 members — 18 high school athletes, nine junior-college transfers and one new scholarship player — Rivals.com rates two as four-star prospects and 12 as three-star prospects. And 13 of them carry a top-50 position ranking by at least one national recruiting service. Rivals ranked the class 47th nationally and seventh in the Big 12. Scout.com considered it 57th nationally and ninth in the Big 12.
Add those numbers up and K-State has its most celebrated recruiting class since 2008, when Rivals ranked it 27th overall and fourth in the Big 12. The Wildcats have fallen outside the top 50 every year since, and have finished higher than 10th in the Big 12 once.
Of course, they made it to four bowl games and won a conference championship with those unheralded recruiting classes. So K-State coach Bill Snyder has never paid much attention to the recruiting rankings.
“I think it is a good class,” Snyder said. “How will it rank? Who knows. A bunch of those guys are ranked extremely high by ESPN. There are 13 of our guys who are ranked, at their position, in the top 44 of the country. Some of them are high school, some of them are community college. You know me, that doesn’t mean a whole lot to me. That doesn’t mean it will be a great class or a bad class or anything else.… It will prove itself out.”
Snyder is hopeful this group will look better in time. He is particularly excited about K-State’s newest junior-college transfers, including defensive tackle Terrell Clinkscales and linebacker D’Vonta Derricott. Both are four-star recruits who put up big numbers in junior college. Clinkscales, from Dodge City Community College, switched to K-State from Nebraska and is expected to help the Wildcats up front next year. Derricott, at Garden City Community College, spurned a load of other major programs for K-State.
“Every community college guy that we have, we have a firm and honest belief that they have a chance to come in and compete immediately and help this program,” Snyder said. “All of them, incoming freshmen certainly, have that over a period of time, but with these junior-college players we are talking about immediate needs. And they can help us.”
K-State received an added junior-college boost when Isaiah Riddle, a linebacker from Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College who had not previously committed, signed a letter of intent.
Several incoming freshmen look capable of seeing early playing time, too.
The group is led by a trio of Blue Springs (Mo.) teammates. After helping the high school win back-to-back state championships, running back Dalvin Warmack, linebacker Elijah Lee and safety Kaleb Prewett will all continue their careers at K-State.
It's the first time since 1999 that K-State has signed three players from the same high school in the same class.
“If I ever have a grandchild who wants to go there, we will have some pull with the school,” Snyder joked. “It might have some impact on future young people coming out of that high school toward Kansas State. That may or may not happen. But that has been a very successful program. Whether it is one of them, two of them or three of them, they bring a confidence factor with them. They bring the experience of playing in and being leaders in a very successful program.”
Warmack rushed for 2,000 yards and 80 touchdowns the past two years, and he is the first two-time winner of the Thomas A. Simone Award, given annually to the top football player in the Kansas City area. Lee won consecutive Buck Buchanan Awards, handed annually to the best linebacker in the area. And Prewett is also talented. He snagged four interceptions as a senior.
Other notable high school seniors heading to K-State are Dalton Risner, the nation’s No. 6 center, and Sam Sizelove, the nation’s 27th-ranked linebacker.
“It’s our belief that they are all quality young people and quality young players,” Snyder said. “But the proof is in the pudding.”