Kansas State lost leading receiver Brandon Banks, but this spring, the Wildcats must also replace every receiver with more than six catches. Receivers Attrail Snipes and Lamark Brown are also gone, as is tight end Jeron Mastrud.
Now, they'll break in a new set of receivers. Aubrey Quarles redshirted last season with a leg injury, but he caught 34 balls for 407 yards in his lone season of action.
"Aubrey Quarles gives you a reasonably physical receiver. He is a pretty sharp young guy that understands what you are trying to do," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. "He's got good hands that can catch the ball and has the capacity to advance the ball and get it up field, because he is a little more physical."
At just 5-foot-11 and 202 pounds, Quarles plays physical, but the Wildcats have a handful of other receivers built to be physical.
Oregon transfer Chris Harper, who Snyder said will work exclusively at receiver and won't get snaps at quarterback, is 6-foot-1 and a stout 234 pounds. Minnesota transfer Brodrick Smith is 6-foot-2 and 206 pounds. He returned back home to Kansas after catching five passes for 50 yards and a score for the Golden Gophers.
"All of us were extremely impressed with his progress, his effort, his quickness, his ability to change direction, etc. [in the offseason program]. Now that he is on the field that has been tempered a little bit and I am quite certain that is because it is a learning process," Snyder said. "He has got to think his way through some things and I think that has kind of tempered his ability to do things naturally. We are just waiting for him to feel more comfortable with the offense, and when he does I think his capabilities will present themselves."
Snyder praised Harper's good hands, and though he won't be working at quarterback, Snyder knew Harper's athleticism would allow him to find his way onto the field somewhere.
"He has got good hands. He has been slowed down a little bit with a nagging injury, so he can't go full speed for us. So there is still some uncertainty in that respect," Snyder said. "Seeing him in the out of season program, the way he runs and changes direction, has good balance and body control, he's probably somebody that is a pretty good athlete."
If Collin Klein doesn't win the quarterback job, he'll switch back to receiver. He caught six passes for 38 yards last season.
Whoever emerges on the edge for the Wildcats, the sooner the better. Quarles will be looking to regain his 2008 form, and if anyone's going to surpass Banks' numbers (56 rec, 705 yards) from 2009, he would be the most likely candidate.