ARLINGTON, Texas — Kansas State redshirt freshman running back DeMarcus Robinson's time in the spotlight could be coming soon.
After two seasons on the sideline, the former Wichita Northwest star should get a spot at cracking the Wildcats' lineup in 2012.
"We like what DeMarcus is doing," K-State co-offensive coordinator Del Miller said. "I hate to use the word because he's probably not on that level yet, but he's a little like Darren Sproles."
At 5-foot-6 and 191 pounds, Robinson is built a lot like Sproles, but admitted this week that his transition to college football hasn't been as easy as he thought it would.
Never miss a local story.
"It's been frustrating, but I just had to get better," said Robinson, who led the City League with 1,720 rushing yards in 2009. "I had to work on understanding the game and becoming a better student of the Xs and Os, which I wasn't when I got here."
Sophomore running back John Hubert will be back next year after rushing for 933 yards this season, but the Wildcats' lack of depth at the position and the uncertainty of Bryce Brown's return leave the door open for Robinson to earn carries.
"I feel like I'll be playing a pretty big role in the future, hopefully next season," Robinson said. "I've just had to watch and learn and wait for my opportunity."
Robinson, 20, said he has added motivation in the form of his 2-year-old son, Henry DeMarcus Robinson III, who lives in Wichita.
"I get to see him almost every weekend," Robinson said. "He's a big reason why I came to K-State in the first place, so I could be closer to him."
Fearless leader — Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson's teammates and coaches have found more reasons to love the All-SEC quarterback than just his 3,422 passing yards and 22 touchdowns.
Wilson, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior, has shown a penchant for thinking on the fly in games... and a willingness to take big hits in order to make plays.
"Tyler has kind of expanded that imaginative part of it because he even does stuff that isn't drawn up in the playbook," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. "He is a young man that has tremendous vision. He has very, very good instincts. He creates some plays on his own. I have tremendous respect for how hard he played this year, really how hard he has worked in his preparation.
"It took him three years to get the (starting) job and he has really made the most of it."
After three seasons as a backup, Wilson became the first all-conference quarterback for the Razorbacks since Quinn Grovey was named All-Southwest Conference in 1988.
"He's a great athlete, but he's also a great leader," Swanson said. "He does some crazy stuff back there, scrambling around and trying to make plays ... and when we need that one extra yard for a first down, he'll put his nose in there and get it."
Two for one — Before Nigel Malone and Allen Chapman played alongside each other as cornerbacks in Kansas State's secondary, they played alongside each other as cornerbacks in City College of San Francisco's secondary.
Malone and Chapman were teammates in junior college, and that made their transition to K-State easier than usual. While most new major-college players are adjusting to new schemes and teammates, they were familiar with each other from the start.
They combined to make eight interceptions and break up 21 passes.
How did K-State coach Bill Snyder approach their dual recruitment?
"They were what we thought," Snyder said. "They were two very fine players in the same program. We just went through the process.... Nothing special."
Eleven heaven — Arkansas and K-State share one form of motivation heading into Friday's Cotton Bowl. They both want to win 11 games. The Wildcats haven't won that many games in a season since 2003. Arkansas hasn't won 11 games since 1977, when Lou Holtz was coach.