Alex Delton will know what it feels like to be Kansas State’s starting quarterback when spring football practices conclude later this month.
With top passer Jesse Ertz unable to play while recovering from surgery on his throwing shoulder, Delton temporarily holds the keys to K-State’s offense. He is expected to start the spring game, with redshirt freshman Skylar Thompson leading the backups.
“You always want to have the mentality that you’re No. 1, but you have a different feeling in your stomach every day when you know you’re the guy,” Delton said. “So I like the pressure. I like it when everyone is looking at you. I feel like I have handled it really well. This has been the most fun I have had in any semester football-wise. It’s been a blast.”
This could be Delton’s time to shine. The sophomore from Hays hasn’t seen much action since enrolling at K-State in the spring of 2015. His debut season was cut short after two games due to a knee injury. He was later granted a medical hardship, allowing him to treat that season as a redshirt year. He returned to action last season as K-State’s third quarterback, seeing action in four games.
His career stats: 11 passing yards, 28 rushing yards and one touchdown. He is still waiting to make his first start.
Delton describes his extra time with the starting offense, even in spring practice, as huge.
“Things are going really well so far,” Delton said. “Me being back there as the one, I feel like the guys look to me now. The whole offensive unit looks to me and it puts me in a position where I can lead. It gives me more confidence in my game and allows me to make plays. That is what it is all about.”
K-State coach Bill Snyder likes what he’s seen so far.
“Alex is really doing a nice job,” Snyder said. “He made some improvement from where he was a year ago. He has a good skill set. I am pleased with that. The other (quarterbacks) are relatively new with the program, but they are all making progress.”
A good spring could lead to increased playing time for Delton next season. Though he is unlikely to challenge Ertz for the starting spot given what Ertz accomplished last season — 1,755 yards and nine passing touchdowns, 1,012 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns— while leading K-State to a 9-4 record, he could carve out a change-of-pace role and take some of the load off Ertz’s shoulders.
Delton is a skilled runner and seems like an ideal fit in a wildcat or zone-read offense.
Still, he is working to show a wider range of talents.
“It is really good to see him stepping up and becoming a leader of this team,” running back Alex Barnes said of Delton. “He is exuding confidence now, and is a whole new person. It is very good to see him mature like that.”
Delton wants to be a reliable backup quarterback next season, capable of running K-State’s entire offense. Eventually, he wants to become a starter. He’s getting a taste of the experience this spring.
“I feel like I have made strides,” Delton said. “The main thing for me is playing fast. I feel like by now I have a good grasp on what we are trying to do in the offense. Now I just need to play fast. Don’t doubt yourself and trust that your receivers and running backs are going to get open and make plays for you. That’s something I think I have made huge strides with. I have gained that trust from them and they have gained trust in me.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett