MANHATTAN — A quarterback hierarchy has been established at Kansas State.
Carson Coffman is on top, Collin Klein is in the middle and Sammuel Lamur is at the bottom.
Coming out of spring practices, that hierarchy meant Coffman, a senior who started four games last season, held a slight lead over Klein in the race to be starting quarterback, and Klein had distanced himself considerably from Lamur.
With the season-opener against UCLA now less than a month away, those rankings depict much less about the position battle. K-State coach Bill Snyder considers all three signal-callers to be on fairly level footing.
"When we take the reps, Carson takes the first, Collin takes the second and Sammuel takes the third," Snyder said. "We're not going to invest that kind of repetition unless there's a belief that they're on an equal stage and will remain competitive.
"If we had the decision, we'd tell you and go with it. We wouldn't equalize their reps."
Just like last season, the Wildcats entered training camp without a clear-cut starter at the most important position on the roster.
Coffman won the job last summer over Grant Gregory, but lost it to the senior transfer as Big 12 play began. A sensational performance in the spring game elevated Coffman back to the top of the preseason depth chart, and he is using the memory of being a backup last season to motivate him this time around.
"It was pretty tough on me last year, getting pulled from the starting job," Coffman said. "I was trying every week to get it back. I don't know if Coach Snyder ever thought about putting me back in, but I was ready if they needed me. That adds a little fuel to my fire to get back on the field right now."
Coffman, a pocket-passer from Peculiar, Mo., believes he is winning the competition so far, and expects to be named the starter when Snyder makes a decision. Snyder said he hopes to choose a quarterback 10 days before the opening game on Sept. 4.
Based on what he's seen so far, it will not be an easy pick.
"I have great faith in them," Snyder said. "I think they are better players today than they were at the end of the spring. So they've really worked during the course of the summer. I think they will continue to be competitive in a very positive way."
One of the main reasons the position battle has heated up considerably since the spring game is the rise of Lamur. After transferring to Kansas State last season from junior college, Lamur took a redshirt and spent the season leading the Wildcats' practice squad.
Teammates often raved about his long throws and speed, but the mobile junior struggled to grasp the complexities of K-State's offense during the spring. For that reason, Snyder said there was a drop off from Klein to Lamur.
Thanks to a few extra study sessions, Lamur has closed that gap.
"The playbook is crazy," Lamur said. "I treat it like a second bible. That's how it's supposed to be. As a quarterback you can't just sit back and relax and think you're going to know the plays. That's how it was when I first came. I relied on my talent a lot."
Klein was no stranger to adjusting his practice regimen after last season, either. As a freshman Klein was moved to wide receiver, where he appeared in 12 games and caught six passes for 38 yards and a touchdown.
That experience allowed him to bond with the teammates he now throws to, and gave him the chance to see K-State's offense from a different perspective.
"All those things together," Klein said, "helped me become a better quarterback and a better player."