Big 12: Wesley Hollingshed

Breaking down spring camp: Kansas State

April, 4, 2012
Kansas State is the last Big 12 team to take the field this spring. Let's take a closer look:

Schedule: Kansas State holds the first of 15 practices today, capped by the Purple/White game on April 28. Practices are closed to fans and media.

What's new: The expectations. Kansas State returns 18 starters from last season's team; only seven teams in college football return more. Last season's team was picked to finish eighth in the Big 12, but won 10 games and earned a second-place finish. Bring back a team like that, and the spring's going to sound very, very different. Kansas State will likely tote a top-15 ranking into the season, and there's a lot more attention being paid to Manhattan this spring after Bill Snyder proved returning to the sidelines was a worthy cause.

New faces: Defensive coordinator Chris Cosh left for South Florida, but new defensive coordinator Tom Hayes inherits a great defense with plenty of talent and experience. Kansas State also welcomes several early enrollees: quarterback Tavarius Bender, fullback Glenn Gronkowski, and defensive lineman Wesley Hollingshed from the juco ranks. Hollingshed, a 6-foot-2, 300-pounder from Texas, could help fill the void left by defensive tackle Ray Kibble, who made 38 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss in 2011.

Breaking out: Arthur Brown earned plenty of attention last season, but fellow linebacker Tre Walker could be poised for a big junior season. Walker made 52 stops last season, and broke up three passes.

Big shoes to fill: The offensive line. Kansas State's rushing attack carried it to the Cotton Bowl last season, but the biggest losses were on the front line. Tackles Clyde Aufner and Zach Hanson, and guard Colton Freeze are gone, so finding replacements this spring will be important. Center B.J. Finney might emerge as one of the team's leaders, but look for guys like Cornelius Lucas, Jordan Allred and Ethan Douglas to get the first shot at filling those holes. Keenan Taylor should be a factor at guard, too. Kansas State also brought in juco transfers Tavon Rooks and Ellwood Clement on the line. Last season's starting left tackle, Manese Foketi, suffered a season-ending injury early, but could be granted a medical redshirt and return for 2012.

All eyes on: Collin Klein. How much better of a passer will he become this offseason? We saw a lot of progression from September to December. Will that continue into the offseason, or has Klein hit his ceiling as a passer? He has an underwhelming receiving corps to throw to, but if Kansas State develops a better passing game, the offense is going to be the nation's most frustrating to stop. If Klein shows up with much more accuracy in the fall, he's going to have legitimate Heisman aspirations, too.

Question marks: Kansas State can't prove it until the fall, but was last season a fluke, or the start of something special? There's no ignoring the Wildcats' 8-1 mark in games decided by a touchdown or less. In every game except a road loss against Oklahoma State, the Wildcats found ways to make plays and come back from fourth-quarter deficits. Can they improve and avoid some of those situations, but still perform in tight spots late in games? No question is bigger for the Wildcats in 2012. They won 10 games last season, but could have easily been closer to 7-5.
We looked at the biggest needs for each team in the Big 12 last week. Now it's time to see who filled them.


Baylor needed a quarterback and defensive tackle, and delivered in both positions. Javonte Magee is on the way as the nation's No. 20 tackle, and the Bears grabbed former Kansas commit Seth Russell, the nation's No. 47 quarterback, from outside Dallas. The Bears also added the No. 78 defensive tackle, Zorrell Ezell, and Joey Sercy from junior college.


The Cyclones needed receivers and got them. Two of the team's top four signees are receivers, P.J. Harris and Quan West. The duo was just outside the top 100 nationally at the position and came from Florida and Texas, respectively.


The raw rankings won't tell you the strength of Kansas' recruiting class. Quarterback has been a huge weakness the past two years, and passers Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps arrive as transfers from Notre Dame and BYU, respectively. It also fulfilled a need by adding Tyler Holmes, the nation's No. 105 tackle.


The biggest need filled for K-State is simple: defensive line. Two of the team's top signees (Travis Britz, Demonte Hood) are along the line, and the team added two more signees (Chaquil Reed, Wesley Hollingshed) from the juco ranks.


The Sooners clearly filled their biggest need. The team's top three recruits (Trey Metoyer, Sterling Shepard, Durron Neal) are all receivers, which is huge for a team that found out it wasn't very strong at the position after Ryan Broyles' injury. It also added the nation's No. 19 receiver, Derrick Woods, to the class.


The Cowboys added a whole lot of volume at receiver. Time will tell how much noise it makes. OSU added six receivers in this class, but none ranked in the top 85 at their position. The team's top recruit, Dominic Ramacher, is the nation' No. 3 tight end and will surely be able to catch a few passes.


The Longhorns lost two starters at linebacker, and filled the void extremely well. The nation's No. 1 inside linebacker, Dalton Santos, is coming. As is Peter Jinkens, the nation's No. 5 outside linebacker, and the No. 12 outside linebacker, Torshiro Davis. It also added Tim Cole, the No. 27 outside linebacker and Alex De La Torre, the No. 11 inside linebacker.


The Horned Frogs' top two commits in their top-25 class are both on the defensive line, filling a big need. That includes Devonte Fields, an ESPNU 150 signee and the No. 11 defensive end. Joey Hunt is the nation's No. 18 defensive tackle. Both hail from Texas. The Horned Frogs also added James McFarland and Terell Lathan, two defensive ends in the top 85 at the position.


The Red Raiders got big-time reinforcements at receiver, adding two of the nation's top 15 at the position. Dominique Wheeler and Reginald Davis are two of Tech's three ESPNU 150 signees in the top-20 class.