MANHATTAN — Kansas State coach Bill Snyder understands the nature of the beast. Maybe better than anyone in the nation.
Recruiting the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference can be uber-competitive. Sometimes, it can even be a little dicey.
But figure it out, and you've got lightning in a bottle. For evidence of that, one need look no further than K-State's roster this season, where players from the Jayhawk routinely find themselves making big plays for the Wildcats.
"I think it's important to keep a so-called... 'foothold' anywhere and everywhere when it comes to recruiting," Snyder said. "But especially when there's a community college conference in your home state that's the best in the country.
"Now that's not saying that Kansas State has the exclusive rights to the conference by any means. There's a lot of really good recruits out of (the Jayhawk) that don't go our way."
But the ones that have, in some cases, have been game-changers.
Defensive end Meshak Williams, a 6-foot-2, 245-pound junior out of Hutchinson Community College, leads the Wildcats with nine tackles for loss and six sacks. He's one of six Blue Dragons on K-State's roster, along with two other key contributors in defensive end Adam Davis and running back Angelo Pease, who played quarterback at Hutchinson.
Defensive end Jordan Voelker, a Butler product via Newton High, has 25 tackles and four sacks.
And that's all without mentioning perhaps the most impressive of the bunch, defensive back David Garrett. The Fort Scott product is a three-year starter and was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection last season. This year he's second on K-State with 70 tackles.
"They're just rugged, and I mean that in a good way," K-State linebacker Arthur Brown said. "They appreciate where they're at and you appreciate what they've been through to get here.
"You've gotta be pretty tough to make it to this level on the junior-college route... nothing but respect to come out of a situation like that."
Where it gets dicey is with the myriad handshake deals that land players in the Jayhawk in the first place — usually when a recruit fails to qualify academically and is placed there by the school. It's something K-State did with Pease at Hutchinson.
But it doesn't always work that way.
"Schools place kids at (schools in the Jayhawk), but that doesn't mean that they'll get them back," Snyder said. "There's no deal that exists that can do that."
The last part of the junior-college-to-major-college equation is making sure the chemistry between the transfers and the players already in place jibes.
That hasn't been a problem for K-State this season.
"Once they get here, they're family," K-State center B.J. Finney said. "We don't treat them differently because they come here and have the same goals as the rest of us."