- Brandon Chatmon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Bill Snyder has built his Kansas State program on the shoulders of players like Jonathan Truman.
He has quietly been among the Big 12’s most productive linebackers during the past two seasons, recording 149 tackles in 19 games.
Known for his toughness and work ethic, the former walk-on was a special-teams star before becoming a starter in 2012.
"Truman is well known as one of the toughest guys on the team,” linebacker Will Davis said. “His mindset is that he is going to compete and outwork everyone, no matter if he is a little banged up or 100 percent healthy. He is going to be on the practice field and the weight room doing everything he can."
This season, Truman has 60 tackles, averaging 10 tackles per game for a Wildcats defense that sits atop the Big 12 in rushing yards allowed per game (100.8) and 10th among FBS teams.
“From last year to this year my confidence level has grown,” Truman said. “That just comes with experience and preparation.”
As Truman ascended into a starting role for KSU’s defense two years ago, there were concerns about who would replace former All-Big 12 linebacker Arthur Brown.
Turns out, Truman, with the help of Brown, has filled in admirably. As Brown was dominating the Big 12 with his aggressive nature and playmaking, Truman was playing the role of understudy, soaking in the habits that made Brown -- now with the Baltimore Ravens -- successful.
“I’ve always been really good friends with Arthur Brown,” said Truman. “When we would have breaks we’d go back home together, train together and I learned a lot from him. His habits on and off the field, he’s a great guy to say the least. He’s always doing the right thing on and off the field and I learned a lot from him.”
The pair still talk, although just once every few weeks during the football season, but Truman considers Brown to be one reason he’s been so successful for the Wildcats. When asked the biggest thing he learned from Brown, Truman said it’s been Brown’s accountability and consistency that he has tried to mimic.
“Doing the important things right and doing things the right way and being accountable,” Truman said. “When he was here everyone counted on him to do what was expected of him and he always came though.”
Even though Truman was one of the Wildcats’ most productive players as a junior, he’s taken things to another level as a senior. The Kechi, Kansas, native is not naturally vocal as a leader but he’s become a more vocal leader during his fifth season in the program, even being voted team captain for the 2014 campaign.
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve been more of a lead by example type of guy,” Truman said. “Coming into this year, my coaches have tried to encourage me to be more of a vocal leader and I think I’ve gotten better at that. Being more vocal is important on our defense and I understood that.”
Truman rarely finds his name alongside the Big 12’s top linebackers in conversations about the conference’s top playmakers but he doesn’t seem to care. He’s more concerned about making sure the Wildcats sit atop the Big 12 standings, like they do now.
“I just try to control the things I can control,” Truman said. “I don’t try to get caught up in hype. I do what’s important to me. And what is important to me is having this football team be successful and I’ll do anything I can to make that happen.”