By Mark Janssen
For so many years, Kansas State fans went into the fall season ultra concerned about the offensive line. Too short, too small; too this ... too that.
If there's a label to be hung on this offensive line, it's "too experienced."
"The snaps that they've had together are very valuable. We're considerably further ahead of where we were last year," said Charlie Dickey, K-State's second-year offensive line coach. "It's so important to have that continuity in terms of understanding the offense and what to expect from each other. The group was fundamentally better in the spring, so we hope that will continue over into the fall."
Kansas State's projected starting-five started 46 games last year. That's Zach Kendall (12 at left guard), Clyde Aufner (12 at right tackle), Wade Weibert (11 at center and one at right guard), and Kenny Mayfield (10 at right guard).
Of the group, Weibert said, "We're like a band of brothers."
Weibert (6-4, 303, Sr.) serves as one of the big brothers of the group entering his second season out of Butler Community College.
"Wade is an extremely hard worker, who just made a huge move in his game last year," said Dickey. "He's physical, determined and has become a very smart player."
Trevor Viers (6-4, 297, Sr.) will support Weibert and brings experience to the field having played in spot duty in 2006, 2007 and 2009 at all three positions.
Mayfield (6-4, 338, Sr.) and Kendall (6-2, 312, Sr.) will flank Weibert at the right and left guard positions, respectively.
"Ken gives us a physical presence and is a very good pass blocker," said Dickey. "With Zach, we're getting very good leadership qualities, plus he's a tough, strong and very smart. He's one of our team captains."
Providing early depth will be Ethan Douglas (6-6, 295, So.) and Jordan Allred (6-2, 300, So.).
Aufner (6-5, 300, Jr.) will man the right tackle position, while Zach Hanson (6-8, 313, Jr.) is the early leader to replace Nick Stringer at left tackle.
Dickey defines Aufner as "... a very smart, dependable and tough kid," while of Hanson, he says, "He's one of those tall rangy kids who has put himself into a position to be a No. 1 guy, but he's got to prove that on the field."
Vying for starting snaps will be Cornelius Lucas (6-8, 312, RFr.), Colten Freeze (6-4, 300, Jr.) and newcomer Manase Foketi (6-5, 325, Jr.) from Mt. San Antonio College.
Collectively Dickey said, "I just think we're much ahead from where we were last year."
NICE BLEND: Of the projected top 10 offensive linemen, K-State has a mixture of four seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and one redshirt-freshman.
NICE SIZE: K-State's projected starters average just over 6-foot-4 in height and 313 pounds in weight. Each starter is a 300-pounder.
COACH DICKEY, offensive line, second season at Kansas State: Dickey, 47, has previous coaching stops at Arizona, Washington and Utah ... he's coached in nine bowl games ... a product of the Arizona Wildcat program where he rolled up a streak of 1,230 consecutive plays at his offensive guard position ... his daughter, Tasha, is a member of the Arizona women's basketball team.