Kansas State University

Observations from the first open K-State football practice of the Chris Klieman era

Kansas State football coach Chris Klieman allowed media to watch the Wildcats practice for 30 minutes on Monday.

Here are some observations from the spring viewing session:

Things are different under the new coaching staff

That much should be obvious by the mere existence of an open K-State football practice. By allowing media in to watch individual drills and scrimmages on Monday, Klieman did something that hasn’t happened in Manhattan for at least a decade. Former coach Bill Snyder closed practices and protected K-State personnel information like gold in Fort Knox. The new coaching staff is a bit more laid back.

The Wildcats opened practice by walking through some plays and then warmed up to the sound of rap music. Snyder wasn’t big on that either. Then they broke into positions and did drills before coming together for a light scrimmage.

K-State coaches seemed to teach players with the same intensity and care as their predecessors, but players seemed genuinely excited to be there.

New position for Wheeler

There were only five quarterbacks throwing passes in green no-contact jerseys at this K-State practice: Skylar Thompson, John Holcombe, Ryan Henington, Nick Ast and Jaren Lewis.

Samuel Wheeler, a redshirt freshman from Lenexa, was practicing with the tight ends.

The position switch is new for Wheeler, but he seems well suited to make the transition. At 6-foot-4 and 221 pounds, he blended right in with the other tight ends on the team.

Injury Report

A number of injured K-State football players worked out by themselves on the perimeter of the field while their teammates practiced.

Five appeared unable to participate in drills. They were receiver Isaiah Zuber, defensive back Brock Monty, offensive lineman Shane Cherry, defensive end Spencer Trussell and offensive lineman Kaitori Leveston.

A handful of other players wore red limited-contact jerseys, but were able to go through drills.

Klieman has said the Wildcats are working with limited depth at certain positions, because of injuries and other factors. That is part of the reason why he is opting to hold a Spring Showcase instead of a traditional spring game next month.

Running back numbers

K-State was decimated at running back following the departures of Alex Barnes, Justin Silmon, Dalvin Warmack and Mike McCoy. But the Wildcats still managed to have six players practicing at the position on Monday.

James Gilbert, a graduate transfer from Ball State, led the way. He was surrounded by Harry Trotter, Cornelius Ruff, Bernardo Rodriguez, Tyler Burns and Michael Warmack.

Receivers on the rise

With the team’s top returning receiver (Zuber) recovering from injury this spring, some other players are getting an opportunity to impress in the passing game.

One of them is Dalton Schoen. Klieman singled out the former walk-on as perhaps the most impressive offensive player early on this spring last week. Michigan State transfer Hunter Rison is also having a promising spring. One more name to keep an eye on appears to by Wykeen Gill. The junior caught everything thrown his way on Monday and seems like he could factor into the offense next season.

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