MANHATTAN — D’Vonta Derricott and Terrell Clinkscales shared similar thoughts as they watched Kansas State’s spring football game last month.
“I’m excited to put on the uniform,” Derricott said.
“I can’t wait to be a part of it,” Clinkscales said.
Their enthusiasm is understandable. Derricott and Clinkscales have been looking forward to joining K-State for months, and they are now counting down the days until it happens.
Derricott, a four-star linebacker out of Garden City Community College, plans to arrive on campus in late June, ready to join the Wildcats for the second half of their summer training program. Clinkscales, a four-star defensive tackle from Dodge City Community College, is aiming for late July.
Both would prefer to move to Manhattan on June 1 with the majority of K-State’s incoming recruits, but they must wait while they work to become academically eligible.
Derricott says he needs three more credit hours, which he will fulfill if he passes an online algebra course by June 27. Clinkscales says he needs nine more credit hours, which he will accomplish if he passes two English courses and an online public speaking class by July 19.
They could be major additions to a defense that played above expectations throughout the spring. They are the two highest-rated players in the Wildcats’ incoming recruiting class.
Derricott chose K-State over Miami, Baylor and other major programs. Clinkscales de-committed from Nebraska to sign with K-State.
Both are potential starters next season, capable of boosting K-State’s defense the moment they make it to campus.
“I have heard a lot of the hype about the guys coming in and having the potential to be good,” K-State defensive end Ryan Mueller said after the spring game. “But it’s kind of hard to say that when they aren’t here. To come into this environment and learn all the plays and pick up everything and be conditioned is definitely not an easy adjustment. But if they want to be good teammates and good players, I am sure they will do whatever it takes.”
They are expecting nothing less.
“I am going to kill it next year,” Derricott said in a phone interview. “I can say that because I have high expectations. I’m not going to let anyone outwork me. I talk to (linebackers) Coach (Mike) Cox a lot and he wants me to compete for the starting job, but he says I’m his guy.
“The Big 12 is a speed competition. I know I have great speed and great size. So, like I said, I am going to kill it in the Big 12 next year.”
Derricott was a first team all-Jayhawk Conference linebacker last season, finishing with 67 tackles, three interceptions and one sack. The 6-foot, 225-pounder hopes to complement Jonathan Truman, Charmeachealle Moore and Will Davis in the middle of K-State’s defense.
He said he was originally committed to East Carolina out of high school, but he never made it there because of poor grades. He thinks his time in junior college has prepared him for life at K-State.
“It all comes down to how you manage your day,” Derricott said. “My freshman year, I wasn’t managing my day right, always putting things off. Once I really started getting recruited, I realized I had to take care of my grades. My coaches at Garden City really helped me. They won’t let me get away with anything. If I do any little thing wrong they will call me and cuss me out. They take care of me. At this point, grades aren’t a problem.”
Clinkscales also thinks his days of struggling in the classroom are behind him. When he arrived at Dodge City last year, he said he had completed six credit hours, forcing him to load up on classes just to have a shot at qualifying in time for the upcoming season. He had some bumps along the way, but he is almost finished.
He was a second-team junior college All-American and a first-team All-Jayhawk Conference selection last season, finishing with 40 tackles, including 7.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks.
At K-State, the 6-4, 325-pound lineman expects to start in the middle of the front four at either tackle position. He thinks his biggest impact will be made as a run-stopper, but he says he is an underrated pass rusher.
“My expectations are as big as they come,” Clinkscales said in a phone interview. “I plan on going in there and being all-conference and All-American – all of it. There is no fear with me. K-State’s defense looks pretty impressive, but I feel like there isn’t that guy out there who is going to be an animal and a presence on the inside. I think I can be that guy.”
K-State’s defense didn’t look like it needed any additional help during the spring game, dominating a scrimmage that is usually filled with offensive fireworks.
That excited Derricott and Clinkscales even more.
“We could be the final pieces to the puzzle,” Derricott said.