Kansas State concluded spring ball in the Big 12 with its spring game over the weekend. The purple squad, comprised of the first-teamers, held off the backup white squad, 23-13. Here's more of what happened:
Best offensive performance: Quarterback Jake Waters carried over his strong 2013 finish into a crisp spring game performance. He completed 26 of 38 passes for 227 yards and rushed for 38 yards and a touchdown.
Best defensive performance: Veteran nickelback Randall Evans and defensive end Ryan Mueller were both terrific. Evans led all defenders with eight tackles, three tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, which set up Waters’ touchdown run. Mueller was credited with three sacks and an additional tackle for loss. Both players are going to be key cogs in the K-State defense once again in 2014.
Best debut: Charles Jones and Jarvis Leverett ran hard as they continued to battle in the wide-open competition for carries at running back. But redshirt freshman Judah Jones made an unexpected splash on Saturday. He converted the scrimmage’s biggest play from receiver with a 51-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Joe Hubener. But he also lined up in the backfield and got six carries. Jones started getting snaps at running back only in the final two weeks of spring ball, but he could get more if he continues making plays.
Notable play: Late in the third quarter, Bill Snyder called timeout and put 8-year old Kaiden Schroeder, who suffers from acute lymphocytic leukemia, in the game. Schroeder gave the Purple side a 30-yard touchdown and everyone inside the stadium a memorable moment, as the Wildcats mobbed Schroeder after the score.
Developing storyline: Former QB Daniel Sams made his public debut at wide receiver but was not a big factor in the scrimmage with only two catches for 9 yards. “It’s still a little different because we just started throwing to each other,” Waters told reporters afterward. “But we’re definitely getting on the same page and making steps to do that, so I’m excited about it.” Sams is still learning the position, and Waters is still getting comfortable with him as a receiver. That will take time. But the potential is still there for Sams to be a much bigger factor down the line.
Biggest question answered: The K-State receiving corps won’t just be about Tyler Lockett next season. Lockett was held out of the spring game with a minor injury, but the Wildcats were still able to move the ball through the air. Senior Curry Sexton led the way with a game-high eight catches for 88 yards, and sophomore Deante Burton chipped in with six catches for 48 yards. With Jones emerging and Sams still growing, Waters could have plenty of options to work with in the fall. Especially once Lockett returns to the lineup.
Quotable: “I hope we answered the running back question today. It’s Kaiden Schroeder. He’s the starter.” – defensive end Ryan Mueller, who became friends with Schroeder after visiting him in the hospital.