Reggie Walker has something to say.
He wants you to hear it and then relay the message to your friends. They should spread the word, too. The more the merrier, even though some will disagree. This is something he’s proud to advertise as a senior defensive end with the Kansas State football team.
“We are going to be the best defensive line in the Big 12, by far,” Walker said earlier this week at Big 12 media days. “I can say it now and speak it into existence, because we have got some dogs. We are going to be big this year.”
That’s a bold statement for anyone, let alone a K-State football player.
For years, former coach Bill Snyder urged the Wildcats to say only politically correct things in front of microphones and cameras. He didn’t want to provide bulletin-board material for any opponent on the schedule, and boasting was considered off limits.
Things are different now. Walker is ready to speak his mind and challenge any other defensive lines in the conference to prove him wrong.
Best of all: he has the support of his teammates, because, well, they agree with him.
“Just look at our defensive line,” senior defensive tackle Trey Dishon said. “There are two of us who were three-year starters under Coach Snyder. We’ve got a first-year returning starter who plays like a senior, and then we’ve got so much depth with our pass rush in guys like Bronson Massie and Kyle Ball. Then there’s Drew Wiley, Joe Davies, Jordan Mittie.”
“This is the most complete our defensive line has been since 2016, at least, when we had Will Geary and Jordan Willis.”
That much remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that this K-State roster is strongest up front on defense.
The Wildcats lost everyone at running back, key starters at receiver, years of experience at defensive back and are dealing with injuries at linebacker, but they are loaded with both talent and depth on the defensive line.
That much was evident at AT&T Stadium when half of the K-State players in attendance (Wyatt Hubert, Dishon and Walker) belonged to the defensive line.
“If you’re going to be successful, it’s gotta start up front,” K-State coach Chris Klieman said. “Whether that’s the offensive line or defensive line, it has to start up front so you have the opportunity not to get pushed off the football. All three of those guys have played an awful lot of football at Kansas State and I think their best football is still in front of them.”
Walker is the leader. The senior from Ponchatoula, Louisiana was the lone K-State player to crack the Big 12 preseason all-conference team and he is ready to live up to his billing after starting 34 games in his first three years.
He made a name for himself immediately as a freshman and now has 110 tackles, 16 sacks and eight forced fumbles. He could end up in the school record books with a big senior year.
“That would mean everything to me,” Walker said. “My dad always talked to me about how you want to be remembered. I want to leave a legacy.”
He will get plenty of help along the way. Hubert is coming off an impressive redshirt season in which he had 35 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks. After adding 20 pounds of muscle in the offseason, Klieman has called him one of the best players on the team.
Then there’s Dishon, who has been solid throughout his college career. The Horton native has started 37 straight games and held his own at defensive tackle.
Davies, Mittie and Wiley, who have all seen action in double-digit games, are ready to complement him.
Dishon is looking forward to sharing the workload this season instead of “playing 50 snaps for 13 games” and “holding down” double teams. He thinks the Wildcats finally have the personnel to dominate up front.
“I love the brotherhood we have got right now,” Dishon said. “I feel like we have been here for a while. Everybody has great chemistry with each other. It’s going to be fun. With the freedom we have on the defensive line, giving us the freedom to fly around is going to be scary.”
Dishon is glad Walker is telling the world about it.
“You can print that,” Dishon said. “I don’t care. I agree with everything he’s saying.”