By Mark Janssen
Bill Snyder has been magical in years past of fitting Player A into Hole B. In the message of this story, that's moving Jarell Childs from third- or fourth-team running back to first-team "Will" linebacker, and flipping fourth- or fifth-team quarterback Ty Zimmerman into a backup defensive safety.
Here are their stories.
Childs: "At Home"
He likes being the hitter on defense instead of the victim of the hit on offense.
"It's something I was planning on talking to the coaches about at the end of spring, but the coaches beat me to it," Childs said of his move from running back to outside linebacker during spring camp. "I played defense in high school, so there's a comfort on that side of the ball."
Childs, 6-foot-1, 225-pounder, prepped at Oak Park High School in Kansas City, Mo., where he was a first team all-district defensive back and second-team all-state selection.
The headlines, however, came on the flip side of the ball as Childs rushed for 1,580 yards and 21 touchdowns in his senior season, after a junior campaign of 1,333 rushing yards.
After redshirting the 2008 season, Childs played in 11 games last year, rushing for a total of 81 yards, which included a 53-yard game against Texas A&M. But with the likes of Daniel Thomas, William Powell and John Hubert stacked up in the backfield, he was open to a new home.
"I liked running back, but I also enjoy going out and hitting people," said Childs, whose brother, Jaron Baston, was a four-year letterwinner at Missouri. "There's some things to learn, but MU recruited me as a defensive player, so there was an idea by some that I could play on that side of the ball."
One thing helping Childs as a defender is that very experience he's had as a running back.
"I have some idea of where the holes are going to open up, so it's just a matter of getting there ... the pursuit and the tackle," said Childs, who has a total of seven tackles - three solos and four assists - in the first two games. "I have a basic understanding of how to read running backs."
There's also a confidence to Childs' game that comes from being on the same page with Bill Snyder on moving from offense to defense.
"The man knows what he's talking about," Childs said with a laugh. "He's not going to put you in a position where you're going to look bad. He's not going to tell you anything that's impossible to do. You just have to listen to what he says."
Zimmerman Welcomed Change
It was the second week of spring camp that first-year secondary coach Keith Burns came to Ty Zimmerman and asked if he would be open to moving to safety.
"He said he liked the way I moved and it might be a chance to play some," reflected Zimmerman, a 6-fot-1, 202-pound freshman from Junction City, Kan. "Shortly after that, Coach Snyder talked to me a little more, and I was all for it."
Saturday against Missouri State, Zimmerman got a start over Emmanuel Lamur, who Snyder said was a "little gimped up."
Zimmerman responded with three tackles.
"It felt good to get out there and run around," said Zimmerman following the game. "I think I did alright, but we have to evaluate the film and coach will give us our grades (Sunday), and we'll hit it on Monday."
After the game, Snyder said K-State did have some concerned on the back end of the defense, but he quickly added, "Ty wasn't a part of those concerns."
Unusual is the fact that Zimmerman said he hadn't set foot on the defensive side of the ball since his middle school days.
"The toughest thing has been learning how to backpedal. I haven't done that in a long time," said Zimmerman. "That, and switching mentalities. Instead of taking my time and letting plays open on offense, I have to be more aggressive now in getting to the ball."
Zimmerman won four letters for the Junction City Blue Jays while playing for his father, Randall, on a team that captured the Class 6A state title in 2008. In that senior season, he completed 144-of-221 passes for 1,920 yards and 25 touchdowns for a team that went 13-0.
"I think having played quarterback is helping me in terms of tendencies," said Zimmerman. "Probably my knowledge for the game is my strength. I'm just willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win. I'm missing not having the ball in my hands and being somewhat in control of the game, but I like where I am."
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at email@example.com.