ARLINGTON, Texas — Kansas State junior linebacker Arthur Brown won't spend any time worrying about whether this week's Cotton Bowl will be his final game as a college player.
He said he will return to the Wildcats as a senior.
"I'm confident I will be back," said Brown, a former East standout. "I feel like it will give me another opportunity to grow as a player and a leader. It will be great for our team for me to come back with all the other guys coming back."
Brown led K-State with 95 tackles this season and helped the Wildcats' defense significantly improve as a unit. He was named the Big 12's defensive newcomer of the year, and earned first-team all-conference honors.
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If Brown declared himself eligible for the NFL draft as an early entrant, he would likely hear his name called.
"No, my decision is to come back and just to be part of the team," Brown said. "I find great value in being part of the team. I'm very team-oriented."
Defensive coordinator Chris Cosh said he wasn't surprised by Brown's decision. He said Brown hasn't spoken a word about the NFL since arriving at K-State, and has focused solely on helping his team win. Cosh described Brown as a player who takes more satisfaction out of his teammates playing well than he does himself playing well.
After transferring to K-State from Miami, Brown helped transform K-State's defense into a competitive unit. Cosh is looking forward to seeing what Brown can do next year.
"He hasn't had a lot of playing time," Cosh said. "This is his first full year of playing. The more he plays... you've just seen him getting better and better this year."
After three years as a starter, senior linebacker Alex Hrebec will enter his final game expecting to contribute only on special teams. One would expect that to bother Hrebec. He made 177 tackles in his first three seasons, but lost his starting job and recorded seven tackles this year. He now sits behind four other linebackers on K-State's depth chart. But he has found other ways to help his team.
"He has been an amazing young man," K-State coach Bill Snyder said. "When I say 'lost his starting job,' he's still a very, very fine player. He cares. He exemplifies what we like for our program to be all about. He's there every single day, he does everything that he can to try and help his teammates. He is a legitimate team player."
When Jordan Voelker asks his father, Randall, for advice about preparing for a bowl game, he doesn't get any. Even though Randall was an offensive tackle for K-State's first bowl team, which played in the 1982 Independence Bowl, his experience is nothing like the one his son is currently living.
"He's seen my (Pinstripe Bowl) ring from last year," Voelker said. "He jokes he wouldn't even bring his out to show me. It's a little smaller. They were the first K-State bowl team, but it didn't have the impact it has today. Fans get behind it a lot more now."
Upside for Arkansas' Bailey
When it comes to personal goals, Arkansas guard Alvin Bailey keeps things very simple.
"All I do, every single day, is just try to be the best I can be," Bailey said. "The only thing that I can really control is making sure I give my best effort."
Bailey's best efforts have made him one of the elite offensive linemen in the SEC and a top-notch NFL prospect. The 6-foot-5, 320-pound redshirt sophomore has started all 25 games in his career, was a second team All-SEC selection this season and is the No. 1 rated guard in the 2014 draft class, according to NFLdraftscout.com.
"The sky is the limit for Alvin," Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said. "He's a guy who, already in his career, has blocked for a 1,000-yard rusher and two 3,000-yard passers. We're very proud of Alvin and all that he's already accomplished."
Bailey's also no stranger to Kansas State — the Wildcats recruited him out of Broken Arrow (Okla.) High and were among his final six teams along with Iowa State, Kansas, Michigan and Nebraska.
The Razorbacks had a distinct advantage, however.
"I'd been looking at Arkansas for quite some time," said Bailey, whose father, Alvin Sr. played basketball for Arkansas in the late 1970s. "Everybody else was kind of coming in late compared to that."
Razorbacks wanted Lamur
Coming out of Independence Community College in 2008, Kansas State senior linebacker Emmanuel Lamur received two offers from the SEC. One was from Mississippi and the other was from Arkansas.
Lamur, from Fort Walton Beach, Fla., admitted that growing up in SEC country made the offers appealing, but now he has a hard time imagining himself as anything other than a Wildcat.
"I just love wearing this purple and being part of this Kansas State family," said Lamur, who is third on the team with 77 tackles. "I made the absolute right decision coming here. I've got to live my football career to the fullest and I couldn't be more hyped to end my career in the Cotton Bowl."
The Purple Invasion Golf Tournament, which will start a 9:30 a.m. on Friday with a shotgun start at Riverside Golf Club in Grand Praire, Texas, is a fund-raiser for the K-State baseball team. Proceeds will go toward a new sound system at Tointon Family Stadium. For questions or to sign-up, call Jay Kvasnicka at 913-433-2307.