The Sunflower Showdown never sleeps. Spring practice is upon us, and Kansans have already taken up their favorite May hobby—meaningless, way-too-early comparisons between their favorite team and least favorite counterpart, whichever that may be. Why not join in the fun?
Casual fans and media members alike have already begun spinning the hype-machine wheels. Which players are spinning the fastest? This article takes a quick look at which football players from the universities of Kansas and Kansas State are catching the most attention from the cameras this offseason.
Honorable Mention: Meshak Williams (KSU: Sr., DE)
Seven sacks and 10 tackles for a loss won’t break any records, but he’s far and away the most talented defensive end on Kansas State’s roster. Now a senior with plenty of FBS experience after junior college, he’ll be the top dog on the front line of Kansas State’s touted defense.
Honorable Mention: Daymond Patterson (KU: Sr., WR)
Patterson’s expectations are inherent. He’s talented, has been around for four years already and found success in both systems he’s played in. It can’t hurt that he’s back in an offense that favors moving the ball through the air. Patterson’s entertaining Twitter reputation makes him a fan favorite, too.
No. 5: Greg Brown (KU: Sr., CB)
Lockdown Brown seemed anxious to put extra pressure on himself when he told reporters that, despite the clean slate with the new coach, he believes he garners a certain amount of respect. Brown has shown no major playmaking ability thus far in his career, but if the expectations are warranted, he’ll flourish in Defensive Coordinator Dave Campo’s man-press scheme.
No. 4: Tyler Lockett (KSU: So., WR)
Receivers Sheldon Smith and (apparently) Brodrick Smith are gone. Tramaine Thompson is a question mark. Chris Harper is Klein’s clear favorite. That makes Lockett the rising star after a stellar freshman season as a return-man. This year most fans expect him to find similar success in the return game while becoming the Wildcats’ No. 2 receiver as well. Regardless of how frequently KSU flings the football around, that's still a big step forward.
No. 3: Tre Walker (KSU: Jr., LB)
Walker has clearly improved with every season in the program. Now he’s getting plenty of attention for his spring work ethic and bulking up, and the media loves talking to him. This He’s expected to spearhead a terrific defense next to Arthur Brown, a task he seems perfectly capable of completing.
No. 2: Nigel Malone (KSU: Sr., CB)
When you burst onto the scene out of junior college by picking off seven passes and breaking up 10 more, you’re bound to get attention. Last year he was expected to contribute immediately, presumably in a nickelback capacity; now he’ll cover the opposition’s most difficult receiver assignment, in the pass-happy Big 12, week-in and week-out.
No. 1: (TIE) Collin Klein (KSU: Sr., QB) and Dayne Crist (KU: Sr., QB)
Their expectations are tied, even if not in the same capacity. Allow me to justify myself—Kansas State fans.
This is not a comparison between Klein’s successes and Crist's; at this point in time he’s clearly the better quarterback. Plus, in terms of this article, is anyone facing expectations as great as Klein’s?
Crist is. The expectations are different, but clearly approach a similar magnitude.
He’s rarely healthy for an entire season, was the primary quarterback on a Notre Dame team that got its coach (Charlie Weis) fired, transferred to an entirely new team, atmosphere and lifestyle, and has the minimal remnants of talent surrounding him from last season’s 2-10 team. Now, people seem to assume that he’s going to lead the Jayhawks to a magically improved team in 2012.
It's possible, but all-in-all, the unwarranted expectations bear down on Crist as strongly as the perfectly rationally founded ones do upon Klein. It'll be fun to see which comes closer to meeting and/or exceeding them.