MANHATTAN — If Bill Snyder knows who his starting quarterback will be next season, he isn't saying.
Come to think of it, he hasn't talked much about who he expects his starters to be at linebacker, defensive line, offensive line or tight end, either.
They are all important positions, and with so many key contributors from last season gone, it's entirely possible Snyder isn't being coy with his knowledge. It could be that he truly doesn't know.
Perhaps that's why he likes to use phrases such as, "We'll have a better idea coming out of spring ball," and "Every position will be competitive going into our two-a-day practices."
This year, those statements hold more meaning than usual.
Because while everyone knows Daniel Thomas is locked in as the starting running back, and Tysyn Hartman and Emmanuel Lamur will be the anchors of the secondary, no one can say with certainty what will happen everywhere else.
Who will join Brandon Harold in providing a pass rush? Who has the inside track at linebacker and tight end? Who is going to fill the void left by quarterback Grant Gregory?
They're all questions that will come a step closer to being answered at 6:10 tonight during K-State's spring game. For many, it will be their final chance to prove themselves to the coaching staff before practices resume in the summer.
Even those in good shape of securing a starting spot next season, such as offensive lineman Zach Kendall, are putting pressure on themselves to perform well with fans watching.
"It is going to be a scrimmage just like we had last Saturday, but it is going to be different," Kendall said. "I think we will be a little more focused. It is going to be just like a game."
Offensive line will be one areas to watch. Four starters return, but only center Wade Weibert and left guard Kendall seem like locks to start again. With depth at the position, everyone else will need to play their way on the field.
"We have a lot of good offensive linemen, so there is always pressure," junior Zach Hanson said. "Cornelius Lucas is a big kid who is improving every day, as is Colten Freeze. We have got some good players that can fill in, so I just try to go out and do my best every day and keep improving."
The biggest position of interest could be linebacker. Ulla Pomele and John Houlik led the unit in tackles last season, and with them gone Alex Hrebec is the only experienced player returning. Kadero Terrell could challenge for a starting role, and Snyder has liked the play of converted running back Jarell Childs this spring. But the high-profile competition is ongoing.
Cornerback, tight end, kick returning duties and several spots on the defensive line are also up for grabs.
"We understand that this is more than just a scrimmage," senior linebacker Josh Berard said. "It's the starting point for the season. People are going to take what they see in the scrimmage and make assumptions about what is going to happen in the season, so we know we have got to be on our game."