Kansas State Q&A: Young football talent, Trevor Knight, Star Wars and basketball

Kansas State defenders celebrate with Kansas State linebacker Charmeachealle Moore after he sacked West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard (3) on 4th down for force a turnover in the 4th quarter. (December 5, 2015)
Kansas State defenders celebrate with Kansas State linebacker Charmeachealle Moore after he sacked West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard (3) on 4th down for force a turnover in the 4th quarter. (December 5, 2015) The Wichita Eagle

It’s good to be back, writing another K-State Q&A.

Apologies for not posting a mailbag the past few weeks. I’ve been buried under an avalanche of work and travel and simply didn’t have time to write one. Last week, I flew to New York on Monday, wrote about 6,000 words on Bill Snyder entering the College Football Hall of Fame, returned to Manhattan on Wednesday and was back at the airport Friday morning to get to K-State’s basketball game at Texas A&M.

This week, my only worry is trying to decide when to go see Star Wars. I hope the fans who flooded movie theaters last night don’t return in greater numbers throughout the weekend.

Enough about me, let’s move onto your questions. Looks like we have some good ones.

The only new word on Trevor Knight is that it appears he will most definitely transfer away from Oklahoma at the end of the season. Even though he received a full release earlier this month, he said he hadn’t made a final decision on whether to actually transfer. I suppose he still hasn’t, but Oklahoma also dropped him to third string on its playoff depth chart. So the odds of him returning to Oklahoma next season as the backup’s backup seem slim.

Where will he transfer? It will be a while before we learn the answer. Possibly another or month or even longer. Knight is certainly interested in K-State, but based on his Twitter activity he is also looking elsewhere. He recently began following coaches and recruiting coordinators with Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Memphis, Texas A&M, SMU, Georgia and K-State. Bill Snyder will have a wide open quarterback race next season and Knight would stand a good chance of beating Jesse Ertz and Alex Delton for the starting job, with Jonathan Banks, Skylar Thompson and Joe Hubener also providing competition.

But there is no guarantee Knight would win the spot. K-State will already have five scholarship quarterbacks next season without Knight. I’m not sure how hard the Wildcats will push to add a graduate transfer. Would he be nice to have? Sure. But he’s not an essential add. Remember, Knight looked amazing as a freshman when Oklahoma steam-rolled Alabama, but that was a long time ago in a bowl far, far away.

K-State might be better off sticking with the quarterbacks it has and building for the future rather than going with a hired gun. Then again, the Wildcats could have used extra depth at the position this season. So Knight would certainly bring value.

It’s all fun to think about, but a decision seems rather far away. Knight could be more interested in a place like Texas A&M, which suddenly might crave a graduate transfer.

It’s bright, but you won’t blind yourself staring at a projection of next season’s starting lineup like you would the three suns of Tattooine.

Duke Shelley (freshman) looks like has a whale of a future in front of him at corner. Elijah Lee (sophomore) is only going to get better at linebacker. Will Geary (sophomore) was very strong this season. Even linebacker Charmeachealle (junior) showed promise against West Virginia. With Dante Barnett returning, K-State’s defense will have lots of talent next season.

On offense, Dalton Risner looks like the next B.J. Finney, but the rest of the offensive line needs to be replaced. Dominique Heath hasn’t been as good as I thought he would be this season, but he still has potential. Current scout team receivers Denzel Goolsby and Isaiah Zuber will need to step up next season. Justin Silmon looked great early, but has completely disappeared since. Winston Dimel has been good at fullback.

That’s a decent core to build around, but it would be nice if K-State also got experience at quarterback this season. That has to be the most frustrating part about this season for the coaching staff. Joe Hubener is not the quarterback of the future. In all likelihood, he will return to his backup role next season and the offense will start over with Banks, Ertz, Delton, Thompson or a transfer. The future would look brighter if one of those quarterbacks was set to return with a year or starting experience.

Dominique Heath is the obvious choice, but I will also keep an eye on Dalvin Warmack and Denzel Goolsby.

All the major players that haven’t suited up since the beginning of the season should be good to go in that department. Dante Barnett, Jesse Ertz and Alex Delton should all receive medical redshirts.

I’m not ready to drink the Kool-Aid just yet on K-State’s NCAA Tournament hopes. Yes, the Wildcats are off to an encouraging 7-2 start and Jerry Palm has them in his latest bracket as 12 seed, but they haven’t beaten anyone of substance. Columbia, Missouri and Georgia (particularly on the road) are all solid victories, but any good team is going to win those games.

If K-State can win its final three nonconference games (Colorado State, North Dakota and Saint Louis) and then start Big 12 play with a win over West Virginia, it will have a legitimate chance of making the Big Dance. For now, though, expectations should remain below that bar.

The Big 12 is going to be brutal this season, and it may be difficult for K-State to match up with the top teams that have big, deep front courts. It will need to win at least eight conference games to make a run at the NCAA Tournament. Maybe it will happen, but I want to see the Wildcats beat a ranked opponent before I raise expectations. Until then, it’s a trap.

I think it would be wise for Bruce Weber to play Dante Williams on Saturday against Colorado State. The Wildcats need extra bodies inside, and Williams is the biggest body they have to add to the mix. I like Austin Budke, but K-State is in trouble against big opponents if he has to play major minutes. Williams is an upgrade inside, tall enough to fill out a Wookie suit, and if he’s healthy he should play.

But Weber seems to think there is value in redshirting Williams and saving the shot-blocker for the next four years. All I can say is we will either see Williams very soon or next season.

Well, I was in Austin last week before K-State played a basketball game against Texas A&M when I spotted a gigantic cow mural at Terry Black’s Barbecue. The place is fantastic, by the way. Probably not as good as Franklin’s or other famous Texas barbecue joints, but I didn’t have to wait in a line for this brisket. Loved the food. Anyway, when the meal was over I handed my phone to a buddy and posed with the cow painting. I hadn’t changed my Twitter avatar in more than a year, so I figured, why not? It also gave me an opportunity to give a shout out to the @KstateCowTie account, which I think is funny. For those who don’t know, a young man in K-State’s media relations department wore a cow tie for K-State’s final three football games. All wins! So, again, I figured, why not? Also, who doesn’t like cows?

Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett