Throughout last year’s tremendous 11-1 run through the regular season for the Kansas State Wildcats, there had to be one common thought running through the heads of the Manhattan, Kansas faithful. It was a thought that undoubtedly ran through their heads every time the Wildcats made the numbers increase on their side of the scoreboard. That thought was simply, “What are we going to do when Collin Klein isn’t here next season?”
It is an obvious thought. No matter who you are, replacing a Heisman Trophy finalist is never easy. The fans’ cause for concern are justified. For two full seasons, Klein basically carried the Kansas State offense on his back while helping head coach Bill Snyder cement the ‘Cats as a major contender once again.
You never want to use too many cliche’s but, as they say, all good things must come to an end. And, that is exactly what happened to the Collin Klein era following January’s 35-17 loss to the Oregon Ducks in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
With that being said, Collin Klein exits stage left, and Redshirt Sophomore Daniel Sams enters into the spotlight. Well, maybe he does.
After redshirting the entire 2011 season, Sams played the backup role to Klein, watching from the sidelines as his mentor wowed the nation week-in and week-out. There is where the first problem may lie, actually.
That’s exactly what Sams did, he simply watched for the most part. Sams attempted just eight passes last season, completing six, with no touchdowns nor interceptions. As far as any major college gaming experience, Sams is extremely limited.
However, if there is one thing that the legendary Bill Snyder has shown us throughout his storied career, it’s that he always has a way of getting talented players ready to perform at, or above their potential. And Sams certainly has enough of that.
Timed in high school in the 40-yard dash at an astonishing 4.33 seconds, Sams obviously has the legs to carry the KSU spread offense. We just need to see if he has the rest of the package to be the man in Manhattan.
That is, if he can beat out his competition.
For Sams, grabbing the brass ring that is becoming the Collin Klein successor will not simply be handed to him. To start the year under center for the Wildcats, he must also show that he’s better than his competition, incoming junior college transfer Jake Waters.
Waters, from tiny Iowa Western Community College, wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school but ended up shining at the small school. After throwing for over 3500 yards and 39 TDs last season, Waters committed to transfer to Kansas State, instantly giving Snyder another option to replace Klein.
It will be a battle this summer if Sams wants to take the reins of one of the top dogs in the Big 12 Conference. But, if Sams can win the competition against Waters before September, then his possibilities may be endless against the competition of the Big 12.