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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
After living in the shadows of family members most of his college career, Kansas State quarterback Carson Coffman is excited about finally making his own name as a football player.
Coffman backed up Josh Freeman most of his college career to this point, but is receiving the opportunity to direct the Wildcats offense this spring. And with the extra work is coming familiarity in the routine of running the offense.
"I feel like I'm getting a better grasp on the offense," said Coffman, the younger brother of former Missouri All-America tight end Chase Coffman and son of former NFL Pro Bowler Paul Coffman. "I'm really starting to feel comfortable in the plays, knowing what my receivers are going to be doing and know where the holes are going to open up. And these last couple of practices, I feel like I have been playing pretty well."
Coffman's improvement has been noticeable to KSU coach Bill Snyder as he sorts through his potential options at the position. Coffman is involved in a tight battle with redshirt freshmen Collin Klein and Joseph Kassanavoid.
Earlier this spring, Snyder was disappointed by the lack of consistency from all of them.
But it appears as if Coffman has made a noticeable recent step forward as the Wildcats prepare for their spring game on Saturday.
"Carson, in the last two days, has made a big jump in his performance," Snyder said. "For the most part in the scrimmage environment, he's been going against our ones and twos. He's still extremely inconsistent, but has taken some steps in the past two days."
Freeman made history Saturday when he was chosen with the 17th pick in the first round by Tampa Bay -- the highest a KSU quarterback has been chosen. Coffman said replacing him will be a challenge, but one he feels like he has effectively prepared for.
"There will be some big shoes to fill," said Coffman, who threw for 281 yards and a touchdown last season while playing in relief of Freeman. "Josh was a great player here and he will be a great player in the NFL, I think. But I feel like I'm pretty well prepared to follow in his footsteps.
"I backed him up for three years and I think I have an idea of what it takes to play this position in the Big 12. I'm excited to go out there and show people what I can do."
The return of Snyder has helped pump some enthusiasm back into the KSU program. The Wildcats have missed out on a bowl trip in four of the past five seasons since winning the 2003 Big 12 title.
Ron Prince was fired late last season, ending his three-year tenure with one bowl appearance. Snyder has returned intent on restoring the luster of the program that claimed three North Division championships and made 11 consecutive bowl appearances from 1993-2003.
Most observers don't expect the Wildcats to challenge for the North title this season, although Coffman said his team will show they can surprise at the spring game.
"We want to show the fans that we are ready," Coffman said. "We want to give them something to be excited about, so I think it is pretty important that we go out and perform well."