MANHATTAN — Kansas State begins spring football practice on Wednesday. Here are five things to watch as the Wildcats prepare for their annual spring game on April 26:
1. Will Daniel Sams change positions?
That’s the main question of the spring. Sams appeared in all 13 games last season as a quarterback, rushing for 807 yards and serving as K-State’s main signal caller against Baylor and Oklahoma State, but his usage tapered off as the season went along. Jake Waters emerged as the team’s go-to passer and figures to be the unquestioned starter heading into his senior season. That left Sams openly pondering a position change before the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. And he now describes himself as a receiver on his Twitter bio. Does that mean he is a full-time member of K-State’s receiving corps? Is he simply trying out the position during spring practices? Will he split time between quarterback and receiver the way Collin Klein did as a freshman? Or is he staying at quarterback full time? Here’s guessing Sams rotates positions throughout April, with Bill Snyder making a decision on his future afterward.
2. Who will replace John Hubert?
DeMarcus Robinson, a former Northwest standout, appears to be the front-runner to replace Hubert, a three-year starter, at running back. Though his contributions have been small, never rising above third string, coaches have praised his work ethic since he joined the program. Robinson, who will be a senior in the fall, certainly has potential. He was the highest-rated member of his recruiting class. But he will be challenged by sophomore Jarvis Leverett before incoming freshman Dalvin Warmack arrives in the fall.
3. The competition at offensive line is wide open.
B.J. Finney returns as the team’s dependable center, and Boston Stiverson and Cody Whitehair are back as a reliable blockers. But Cornelius Lucas, Tavon Rooks and Keenan Taylor have all moved on. The race to replace them will begin in the spring. Keep an eye on Aderius Epps, Drew Liddle and Kason Hostrup.
4. Former backups are ready for more at linebacker.
With Tre Walker and Blake Slaughter out of eligibility, K-State will turn to former backups to replace them. Several young players seem capable of stepping up into larger roles. Mike Moore played well as a third-down specialist last season, Trent Tanking received good reviews in practice and Nick Ramirez and Will Davis are both ready to step onto the field.
K-State ended the 2013 season with a bang, winning six of seven and knocking off Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. A veteran group, especially on offense, returns. Can the mixture of experience and momentum help the Wildcats hit the ground running this month?