Spring practice came to an end at Kansas State on Saturday when the purple team beat the white team 31-28 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
The public scrimmage provided a short glance at what the Wildcats might look like next season. Some personnel questions (offensive line, linebacker, receiver) were answered. Other position battles (quarterback, special teams) appear to have no end in sight.
This seems as good a time as any to project a 2018 depth chart.
Snyder doesn’t reveal a public two-deep at the conclusion of spring practices, so it’s hard to tell exactly where everyone stands as they transition toward summer workouts, preseason practices and the season opener against South Dakota. But here is an educated guess:
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Starter: Alex Delton or Skylar Thompson
Backup: Hunter Hall
Anyone hoping to see separation at this position during the spring game was out of luck. Delton and Thompson both lit up K-State’s defense, making it seem more apparent than ever that they will likely remain deadlocked until August. Delton looked like a better passer than he did last season, uncorking several deep balls while completing 21 of 28 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns. Thompson was just as efficient, completing 15 of 22 attempts for 204 yards and a touchdown. They were both turnover free. K-State coaches flipped a coin to decide which QB started the game, and they remained tied at the end of the spring game. It remains unclear who will emerge as the starter.
Starter: Alex Barnes
Backups: Justin Silmon, Dalvin Warmack, Mike McCoy, Cornelius Ruff
It’s a bummer we didn’t get to see Dalvin Warmack or Mike McCoy in the spring game. Given his decision to return to K-State after announcing plans to transfer, many wanted a preview of how the Wildcats plan to use Warmack’s versatile set of skills next season. And no K-State player amassed more spring hype than McCoy. Still, Barnes reminded everyone watching that he remains the best running back on the roster. The junior flashed speed and awareness while rushing for 98 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. His touchdown run (weaving through traffic untouched for a 14-yard gain) was a thing of beauty. Now injury free, it’s exciting to think about what Barnes could accomplish next season.
Starters: Isaiah Zuber, Dalton Schoen, Zach Reuter
Backups: Chabastin Taylor, Landry Weber, Isaiah Harris
One of the most encouraging developments of the spring came at receiver. Little was known about this position beyond returning starters Dalton Schoen and Isaiah Zuber, but they appear to have capable route-runners behind them on the depth chart. Chabastin Taylor was the MVP of the spring game, piling up 118 yards and two touchdowns on five catches. He could be a valuable playmaker next season. And K-State quarterbacks targeted Landry Weber a whopping 11 times. A walk-on from Lenexa, he should see plenty of action in the slot. But they both might be chasing Zach Reuter for the title of K-State’s No. 3 receiver. Reuter started with the purple team and caught two touchdowns.
Starters: Scott Frantz, Tyler Mitchell, Adam Holtorf, Abdul Beecham, Dalton Risner
Backups: Bill Kuduk, Ben Adler, Dylan Couch, Josh Rivas, Nick Kaltmayer
All five starters return from last year’s offensive line, and there’s no reason to suspect there will be a change up front next season. This remains a position of strength for the Wildcats. But Josh Rivas and Nick Kaltmayer both played well in place of injured starters Abdul Beecham and Dalton Risner during the spring game. It’s possible both could see playing time in 2018. Rivas could be a valuable replacement on the interior, and Kaltmayer looks like a plug-and-play blocker, should he be needed.
Starter: Blaise Gammon or Nick Lenners
Backup: Matt Jones
Without Dayton Valentine, this position remains a bit of an unknown. But Blaise Gammon and Nick Lenners each had their moments during the spring game. They combined to catch three passes and helped the offensive line have a strong blocking day. Might new coordinator Andre Coleman incorporate them more within the offense?
Starter: Adam Harter
Backup: Luke Sowa
It was just the spring game, but K-State got eye-popping production out of its fullbacks on Saturday. Adam Harter amassed 97 yards of offense and caught a 16-yard touchdown pass, Luke Sowa had a 39-yard touchdown run and Terrance Richards touched the ball seven times. Many assumed K-State would stop featuring this position next season. Saturday made you wonder.
Starters: Reggie Walker, Trey Dishon, Drew Wiley, Kyle Ball
Backups: Bronson Massie, Jordan Robertson, Eli Huggins, Chase Johnston
It’s easy to see why Bill Snyder praised Trey Dishon and Kyle Ball this spring. Both defensive linemen had strong efforts on Saturday, each registering a sack and looking like leaders at their positions. Too bad there wasn’t much else to like here. The defensive line rarely stood up to the offensive line. Reggie Walker still looks like the other starter at defensive end, but Bronson Massie isn’t far behind. Wyatt Hubert and Chase Johnston could help next season, too. K-State has less depth at defensive tackle. Joe Davies started alongside Dishon and Drew Wiley made some plays, but it’s unclear where the Wildcats will go for other backups.
Starters: Da’Quan Patton, Elijah Sullivan, Eric Gallon
Backups: Sam Sizelove, Blake Richmeier, Daniel Green, Ian Rudzik
There doesn’t seem to be much competition for the starting linebacker spots. Da’Quan Patton and Elijah Sullivan appear to have a stranglehold on the top two jobs, and everyone else is playing catch up. Virginia transfer Eric Gallon had his moments and logged a start with the white team before making four tackles. Depth could be an issue.
Starters: Duke Shelley, Kendall Adams, Denzel Goolsby, Walter Neil, A.J. Parker
Backups: Kevion McGee, Jahron McPherson, Brock Monty, Colby Moore, Wayne Jones
Part of the reason K-State’s offense played so well in the spring game: the Wildcats were without starting defensive backs Kendall Adams and Denzel Goolsby. A.J. Parker was also limited. All three should be at full strength by the start of preseason practice. In their place, we saw new faces Kevion McGee, Jahron McPherson and Brock Monty. A Wichita product, Monty led the spring game with 14 tackles. Wayne Jones also had an interception for the purple team. Not sure what to make of a silent spring from senior Eli Walker, but Shelley looks like the new leader of the secondary.
Starters: Blake Lynch (K), Devin Anctil (P), Isaiah Zuber (KR), Dalvin Warmack (PR)
Backups: Nick McLellan (K), Bernardo Rodriquez (P), Duke Shelley (KR), Isaiah Harris (PR)
This part of the depth chart remains a mystery. Blake Lynch connected on the only field goal of the day, a 44-yarder, but Nick McLellan took the field first. Devin Anctil had the longest punt of the day, 41 yards, but Bernardo Rodriquez went first. And nobody tried anything on returns.