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All in the Family

By Mark Janssen
 
 
Bill Snyder says it's not that complex.
 
"The best way to deal with it is when he's on the field or in a meeting, he's one of the players. Outside of that, he's my grandson."
 
With that being the philosophy, for the third time in his coaching career, the Wildcat football coach is literally coaching one of his own.
 

First, it was two sons - Sean, an All-American punter for the Wildcats in 1991-92 and Ross, a reserve running back in the late 1990s. And now its grandson Tate, Sean's son, who is a freshman linebacker on the 2010 Wildcat football team.
 
"I grew up dreaming to play for Kansas State," said the Manhattan High all-state product and participant in last month's Shrine Bowl game in Pittsburg. "I was basically either going to go here ... or here."
 
The young Snyder reflected, "I remember hanging around here as a kid and seeing all the good players come and go. Darren Sproles was probably my favorite player. He was so little, but he made people look so bad. He was so quick and fast."
 
But yes, Tate has been warned that carrying the "Snyder" name can be a hefty load.
 
"I know it's not going to be easy, and if anything, it will probably be harder for me than other players," said Tate. "The family time will continue to be great, but once in the complex and on the field, it's not going to be easy. But that's the way I want it."
 
Sean, who started his punting career at Iowa, has schooled his son on just that ... it's going to be tough.
 
"There's a pressure that nobody else can realize. There's a pressure to not embarrass yourself and your family, and the pressure of how everyone else looks at you - players, coaches and fans. There are just more questions revolving when you're the son (grandson) of a coach."
 
Sean, Kansas State senior associate athletic director and director of football operations, said that his first goal, and the same with Tate, was to blend in as just one of the Wildcats.
 
"You have to understand that when you mess up, you're going to get yelled at. If you miss a class, you're going to get disciplined by running. That made you one of the guys," said Sean. "And, you have to realize that what was bad out here (football) doesn't necessarily have to carry over to a bad evening (at home)."
 
Dad Snyder added, "The important thing for a son of a coach is to break through and be a part of the team camaraderie. Some guys may look at you and wonder if they can say this or that around you. There can be a thinking, 'Is he going to go tell on us?' The guys this summer seemed to have accepted him, but I'm sure there will be questions."
 
During the summer conditioning, Tate said there was some good-natured kidding, but he added, "I very much felt like one of the guys. There was just an occasion, 'Go tell your pops that it's too hot to practice.'"
 
Like his dad, Tate understands that he might have to be an extra step better than the next guy to get playing time.
 
With himself, Sean said it's likely that had he averaged 44 punting yards in practice and backup Max Argo averaged 42 yards, the nod might have gone to Argo just because his father didn't want it to appear that favoritism was involved.
 
Coach Snyder admits, "The inclination is that most people would view you to be easier on your son or grandson. But my nature would be to go the other way and that is exactly what I did with Sean."
 
None of the scouting services decorated Tate Snyder's name with five or four stars. He's a 5-foot-11, 205-pound "Will" linebacker with no more than 4.8ish straight-line foot speed.
 
But as dad Snyder says, "He's really quick in the short-box stuff. He's not a good 40 runner, but he has good on-field speed."
 
Tate says his goal is to bulk up to 215 but not lose any speed. While redshirting is always an option for any incoming freshman, as he says, "I want to prepare to play. If it's a redshirt year, I'll take it. But if I get a chance to play, I want to be ready to take full advantage of it."
 
It sounds like Tate has been listening to coach grandpa.
 
"Like with any other incoming freshman, you want him to compete as readily as he can and be prepared to play," said Coach Snyder. "About a week out before the first game is when you make some decisions. But you don't want a young player to automatically be thinking about redshirting. That takes the competitive spirit out of it."
 
Sean laughs at the grandpa/grandson relationship, especially when gramps was at one of Tate's Manhattan High games.
 
"You know dad. He's always got a piece of paper and scribbling notes," said Sean. "When he was watching Tate, he wouldn't say a whole lot, but he would take notes and then go over some things with him after the game."
 
Overall, Coach Snyder said, "Not many people have had the opportunity to coach their son and their grandson, so I think I will enjoy that immensely. It will be fun for me but probably not for him (Tate). But I will never get tired of it."