MANHATTAN — Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder doesn't yet know who his next starting quarterback will be, but he will take a look at three candidates throughout spring practices.
During his first news conference since the conclusion of the 2009 season, Snyder said on Monday that Carson Coffman, Collin Klein and Sammuel Lamur are competing for the position.
Four practices into the 15-practice spring season, Snyder thinks that competition is going well.
"We'd like for someone to surface above someone else, but at this point in time that hasn't taken place," Snyder said. "I don't see a big difference in the three right now. They all have their moments on each side of the ledger."
Snyder also said Oregon transfer and former Wichita Northwest standout quarterback Chris Harper will not be in the mix. Snyder said Harper is now purely a wide receiver.
Coffman is a 6-foot-3 senior who started four games last season before South Florida transfer Grant Gregory took over the position. Coffman was a team captain as a junior and has displayed good arm strength during his time at K-State, but he is not mobile and has struggled to make good decisions while under pressure.
Both Snyder and Coffman believe those experiences will help him this time around.
"Personally, I feel like I'm way ahead of where I was last year," Coffman said. "Just knowing the offense more, I feel more comfortable checking plays. It's coming more natural to me, because I know the offense."
Klein may not understand the X's and O's to that degree, but the 6-5 sophomore sports the ideal body for a signal caller; tall, strong-armed and quick on his feet.
But aside from a trick play or two as a freshman, Klein spent the majority of his time as a wide receiver — catching six passes for 38 yards and one touchdown — although he did practice and study film with the quarterbacks.
If Klein doesn't win the starting quarterback position, Snyder said there was a good chance he could go back to catching the ball instead of throwing it.
"I know Collin is going to play," Snyder said. "I just don't know where."
Klein said he will do whatever it takes to help his team, but his only focus right now is on playing quarterback.
"I've really developed my quarterback skills," Klein said. "Hopefully I can contribute in this area now."
Lamur, the 6-4 twin brother of K-State safety Emmanuel Lamur, was K-State's scout-team quarterback last season. Teammates raved about his skills and coaches insist he is easily the most athletic of the three.
In an option offense, Snyder said Lamur would have the advantage. But that by no means guarantees playing time.
"Sammuel probably has the longest route to travel because of inexperience and not being involved with the offense as much as the others," Snyder said.
Lamur did not speak on Monday. Snyder did not indicate whether highly regarded freshman quarterback Billy Cosh, who is on campus and participating in spring drills, or any other K-State signal-callers could play their way into the conversation by the time fall practices begin.
Spring improvement — At this time a year ago, K-State players knew little of what playing for Snyder was like and spent spring practices learning a new system. This year, players say they are already building on what they accomplished last season.
"We're able to move forward with focusing on execution rather than just effort," said center Wade Weibert.
Hartman healing — Junior safety Tysyn Hartman underwent successful surgery on his knee during the offseason and has returned to the practice field in a limited role. The Kapaun Mount Carmel product is not allowed to participate in contact drills or scrimmages.
"I can't be out there all the time," Hartman said. "So I take mental reps, coach 'em up and do what I can."