Editor's Note: Today, "K-State Sports Extra" continues its nine-part look at the 2010 Wildcats with each assistant coach taking an in depth look at his respective position.
By Mark Janssen
To say that Kansas State wants to be improved at chasing the ball, and better at securing tackles, is an across-the-defensive-board blanket statement. But it especially holds true for the collective linebacker positions.
"We have a good group," said Kansas State defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Chris Cosh. "They're all competitive guys, but the one real important thing about this group is that they care about each other. They want to do well, but they don't want the other guy to do poorly. They're just out there trying to make each other better."
"Jarell gives us some length and gives us an athletic guy who can do some things on the edge," said Cosh.
A tough move?
"In some aspects, but he was a running back who tried to make people miss him, and now he's on defense where he's trying to make blockers miss him," said Cosh. "It's the same hole where you look to open when on offense, but looking to fill on defense. He has the skill set and the vision to become a good one."
Childs, a 6-1, 225-pound sophomore, will be backed by Kevin Rohleder, a 6-0, 219-pound senior, who played in all 12 games last year, which included a career high of five tackles against Oklahoma.
"Kevin is one of our faster players and just a really good team player for us," said Cosh.
At the "Mike" linebacker spot is returning starter Alex Hrebec (5-11, 251, Jr.), backed by Blake Slaughter (5-10, 225, So.) and Jarett Wright (5-11, 224, Sr.).
Hrebec, a team captain, has played in 23 games during his first two years and has a career total of 100 takedowns. Last year the St. Louis, Mo., product became the first linebacker since 2006 to have consecutive double-digit tackle games - 10 vs. Tennessee Tech and 11 vs. Iowa State.
"Alex has good intensity and is a tough guy," scouted Cosh. "He's not really special at anything, but he's really good at a lot of things. Plus, he's played a lot of snaps for us."
Cosh indicated that Slaughter can also play at the "Will" position.
"He has great intensity and is trying to be one of our leaders at that position," said Cosh. "Last year, he was still trying to figure out which door to enter and which door to lock. He's just now figuring out what's going on, but you can see he has some ability. He plays with great energy, and he loves football."
Cosh puts a "strong safety" label on K-State's third linebacker, which he calls "... kind of a hybrid safety/linebacker."
The position will be manned by Troy Butler (6-0, 194, Sr.) or Thomas Ferguson (5-11, 204, So.). Butler started 11 games last year, which included a career high of nine tackles against Oklahoma. Ferguson played in 11 games and snagged one tackle in four games.
"Thomas beat him (Butler) out initially last year, but then Troy took over the position and never let go," said Cosh. "Right now, they're out there just trying to make the other one better."
PERFECTION: As a prepster at Gwyn Park, Md., Butler led his team to a perfect 15-0 record, while recording 11 interceptions. He then attended Antelope Valley Community College in California, where he helped his team to a conference title.
BACK IN THE OLD DAYS: Before becoming a linebacker in spring camp, Childs was a running back accounting for 81 yards for the Wildcats last year. As a senior at Oak Park High School, he rushed for 1,580 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior.
THE FUTURE: Top freshmen linebackers waiting in the wings are Kansans Tate Snyder, the grandson of head coach Bill Snyder and the son of Director of Football Operations Sean Snyder, plus Tre Walker. Snyder is a 5-11, 205-pound product of Manhattan High School, while Walker is 6-4, 205 pounds and a graduate of Olathe North High School.
COACH COSH, assistant head coach/defensive coordinator, fourth year at Kansas State: Played collegiately at Virginia Tech from 1977-81 ... Division I coaching trail has gone through UNLV, Minnesota, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan State and South Carolina ... coached under Snyder in 2004-05 and returned in 2009 when the head coach returned ... Cosh's son, Billy, is a freshman quarterback for the Wildcats... Cosh, 51, has coached in six bowl games.