Young players shine during Kansas State bowl practices

The Wichita Eagle

It is always interesting to hear Kansas State coordinators talk about young and seldom-used players that showcase their skills during bowl practices, providing a glimpse of what they may do in future seasons.

This is the time of year when players that casual fans know little about create buzz and build toward the future.

Offensive coordinator Dana Dimel and defensive coordinator Tom Hayes, as well as veteran K-State players, had plenty to say about the Wildcats’ emerging talent this week.

Here are the names that have the most buzz:

Denzel Goolsby and Isaiah Zuber both appear to have bright futures in front of them at receiver. Both freshmen spent this season with the scout team while redshirting, but figure to compete for playing time next season. Each of them have made impressive catches the past month.

“Those are the top two guys who have stood out for us in this last recruiting class,” Dimel said.

At quarterback, Dimel said Jonathan Banks is making progress. The sophomore junior-college transfer finished fourth in a four-man quarterback derby in the preseason and elected to redshirt. He struggled early to adapt to K-State’s level of competition, but Dimel said he has made strides since and could factor into the quarterback battle next season.

Dimel also laid out what the offensive line may look like next season with only freshman center Dalton Risner returning.

“We are going to lean on our young offensive linemen,” Dimel said. “That is a big part of our future and our program. Adam Holtorf has looked really good. Tyler Mitchell at left guard has been good. Scott Frantz is working at left tackle. Those three guys have a chance to be really good. Bryce Fitzner is also running with the twos at right tackle for us, and he looks good.”

On defense, players said they have been impressed with linebackers Elijah Sullivan and Chase Johnston. Defensive back Hunter Knoblauch was also mentioned as a promising hard-worker.

Hayes said he was happy with the defense as a whole, opting not to single out any young players, but he did praise freshman defensive back Duke Shelley, who has already emerged as K-State’s top cover corner and appears to have a long and promising career ahead of him.

“He is just a puppy dog,” Hayes said. “He is just getting started. We are expecting big things out of him. I told him the other day that I just want to make sure he keeps growing and gets in in the weight room.”

Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett