Each and every response was different, a sign that the wisdom shared daily lands on different ears in different ways.
Bill Snyder is approaching his 23rd season at Kansas State, a veteran coach with a reputation full of successes, on and off the field. When asked to find a solitary piece of advice that sticks with them from their longtime head coach, center BJ Finney, defensive end Ryan Mueller, linebacker Jonathan Truman and receiver Tyler Lockett each had different responses.
Snyder’s words have sparked Mueller to put extra work in, to become a better player and a better teammate. His advice helped Mueller tie the school record with 11.5 sacks while earning first team All-Big 12 honors in 2013 and has continued to make Mueller hungry as he heads into his final season.
“He says things all the time that have stuck with me, but one that sticks out is ‘Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work,’” Mueller said. “I take that quote, look at it every morning and know I have to work hard to outwork, not only my teammates to put me on a leadership platform, but I also have to outwork any guy in the Big 12 conference. I know everybody is working hard but what guy is going to make that sacrifice to do it a little bit better?”
Truman’s name is one that might be unfamiliar to several Big 12 fans, despite finishing 13th in tackles in the Big 12 as a junior with 89 tackles. His takeaway from his time with Snyder is the unyielding discipline he has instilled into the program.
“He instills discipline in all of our players, that’s something we take on and off the field,” Truman said. “Obviously you need it on the field to do the right thing at the right time, all the time and off the field you need to make the right decisions. There’s always the easy way and the right way to do things. Those decisions every single day affect the person you are and impact your life.”
Snyder’s influence is much bigger than the here and now for Truman, who feels he’s learning life lessons that will stay with him for the next 30 years.
“He’s a guy that really has those values as a person that people should strive to be and that’s what he instills with us,” Truman said. “The type of values you take from this program and have later on in life when you have a wife and kids, you learn all those values here and take them throughout your life.”
For Finney it’s been something Snyder does that shows how much he cares as opposed to a single piece of advice.
“The thing that sticks with players the most, I know it does with me, is one day we’re going to have to hang the pads up,” Finney said. “Coach wants us to be ready and prepared for the day that happens. He truly cares for each and every player. He wants us to get a degree so if we don’t make the NFL we’re ready.
“Guys that leave early and don’t have a degree, he calls them every two weeks to get them to come back and at least finish that degree.”
For the reigning Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year, Snyder’s influence is more about the here and now. He’s convinced Lockett focusing on his present is the best way to enhance his future.
“Just be 1-0, focus on today,” Lockett said. “If you focus on a month from now, you lose sight of everything you could have done to make your month from now much better. Be the best you can be today and eventually when it comes to that first game everything else will fall in place.”
Snyder has dedicated his life to impacting and molding football players, on and off the field. One simple question sparked four different answers from Wildcat players but no one can question Snyder’s ability to make a lasting impression on just about everyone he coaches. Each player agreed hard work was a staple of the program but their expanded responses give those of us on the outside a glimpse at what it’s like to interact daily with the man who has placed K-State’s program firmly on the right track, in several different ways.