MANHATTAN — As expected, Emmanuel Lamur's return to the lineup Saturday was a terrific boost to Kansas State's secondary.
After missing last week's game with a concussion, the junior safety recorded seven tackles and made an interception against Central Florida. He played a key role in holding the Golden Knights to 92 passing yards and helping the Wildcats grab a 17-13 win.
"That was good," linebacker Blake Slaughter said. "Lamur has got an energy about him. I love him to death. He's such a good guy. You know he's going to play hard for us, and we want to play hard for him. It's great having him back.
What wasn't expected was who he replaced on the field.
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Instead of taking over for true freshman Ty Zimmerman, who had been playing alongside Wichita native Tysyn Hartman in Lamur's absence, he played next to him while Hartman was relegated to the bench and saw action mostly on special teams.
Coming into the season, many pointed to Lamur and Hartman as the leaders of K-State's defense. Both were standouts a year ago, and were expected to pick up where they left off. But Hartman has struggled defending the pass, Lamur has battled injuries and Zimmerman — a Junction City product — has turned heads with his play.
Now all three are candidates to start.
"I think all three of them are playing well and all three of them deserve to be on the field," K-State coach Bill Snyder said. "They will just get involved until we can define two of the guys, but I think we probably will be in a rotation."
Through four games, all three have had their moments. Hartman is the leading tackler of the group with 21, Zimmerman has been assignment sound while making 15 tackles and Lamur has recorded 14 tackles and one interception.
Hartman and Lamur have the most experience, but coaches and teammates have shown they are confident in Zimmerman.
"Ty is a good kid," Slaughter said. "He's always out there playing hard. It's good to have a third guy back there who can play.
The next two weeks of practice will likely determine who takes the field on Oct. 7 against Nebraska.
"All of (us) are good players," Lamur said. "Every day you've got to compete if you want to play on Saturdays."