Kansas State doesn't allow any fans or media to view its practices, so observations about players during the spring are based solely on comments from coach Bill Snyder or his players.
Snyder has kept his comments measured regarding running back Bryce Brown, formerly a five-star recruit at Tennessee, admitting that he's not sure what to expect in Saturday's spring game in Manhattan.
"It is quite obvious that he is a very fine player," Snyder told reporters during a weekly media gathering on Tuesday. "He runs well and has really good speed and is developing into a multifaceted player. He is improving on his blocking capabilities. He can be involved in the passing game; he is proving his skills there."
Even still, Brown is far from a starter. For now, he's locked in a battle with John Hubert, a sophomore who also happens to be the cousin of former Oklahoma State standout cornerback Perrish Cox.
Hubert is a Waco, Texas native who also played high school football with blue-chip recruit Ahmad Dixon, a Baylor safety. He redshirted in 2009 after signing with the Wildcats. The only other notable schools who offered Hubert a spot were Louisiana Tech and North Texas. But even though the 5-foot-7, 185-pounder's recruitment process was the exact opposite of Brown's, he's pushing him for playing time next season.
"I really like the progress that we are making at that position," Snyder said. "[Brown] is the fastest of the group and more physical than the other two at least in stature to John Hubert and Robert Rose. Robert has really come into his own, but we saw that last year when he worked on the scout team. All three of them are really competitive right now."
Brown, conversely, held offers from schools like USC, LSU and Miami. After choosing Tennessee, transferring back to Kansas State and enduring a season on the scout team, Snyder feels good about Brown's transition back to a major contributor.
The Wildcats have proven they're capable of running the ball more than proficiently under Snyder. Juco transfer Daniel Thomas led the Big 12 in rushing the past two seasons. If K-State can find another to fill the void Thomas left when he packed up for the NFL, the another bowl game, at least, should be within reach.
"When Daniel came during the summer, he did not have anyone to coach him during the workouts other than our players, so it was kind of a crash course for him," Snyder said. "Bryce comes in having spent a season with us in a redshirt capacity and has learned a lot. He is ahead of Daniel when Daniel started his first season, but even at that a vast majority or Bryce’s time was spent on the scout squad last year so that does limit the learning process; but he is a sharp young guy and picks it up very well.