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Mayfield Earns His Way at K-State

By Mark Janssen
 
 
Let's call it a big-man's version of "Fear The Beard."
 
Last winter, it was six-footer Jacob Pullen who struck fear in rivals on the basketball floor with his scruffy beard.
 
This fall, its 6-foot-4, 338-pound Kenneth Mayfield, who not only has fuzzy cheeks and a chin to match, but also a touch of a Mohawk that he hides under his Wildcat helmet.
 
"As long as we keep winning way more than we lose, the facial hair and Mohawk will stay," said the Kansas State offensive right guard. "It started as a joke before the season started, but I hope to keep growing it for a while. I'm starting to like it ... it's growing on me."
 
Maybe growing on him, but dad Kenneth and mom Gail have another opinion.
 
"My mom gripes about it, but she understands it's just a being-in-college thing," laughed Mayfield.
 
What mom and dad are proud of is in their son's maturity since leaving Randallstown, Md., and heading west.
 
The Baltimore area is as far west as Mayfield had ever been prior to being recruited by the previous coach staff in 2005, unless, he quips, "Does Orlando count? I've been to Disney World."
 
Recruited via mail by the likes of Toledo, Temple and Maryland, Mayfield said, "Kansas State was by far my best offer, and honestly, it was probably best that I left Baltimore. I have very caring parents and everything I needed, but it can be a tough place to live."
 
While never truly seeing eye-to-eye with the previous coaching staff, Mayfield found new K-State football life with the arrival of Bill Snyder prior to the 2009 season.
 
While redshirting in 2006 and battling homesickness, not playing in 2007, and basically only seeing action on special teams in 2008, in part, due to excessive weight, Mayfield said, "In my first meeting with Coach Snyder, I told him I wanted to prove to him that I could contribute. He just told me, 'Don't tell me, show me.' He gave me the opportunity and I ran with it."
 
And it did take a lot of running as last year he went from 350 pounds down to the 315 to 320 range, which included extra jogs and agility drills, not to mention early morning stationary bike sessions.
 
"Honestly, I can't say my work habits were very good when I got here," said Mayfield, "but they've since become pretty good."
 
In addition, with a goal to show Snyder that he could play, Mayfield used Nick Stringer as a human example last year.
 
"I tried to imitate everything that he did, whether it was on the field, in the weight room or being a leader," Mayfield said. "I wanted to play to my highest level like he was. I've been proud of my dedication."
 
Mayfield has upped his bulk to 338 pounds this year, but his movement is good, as is his work ethic.
 
"These last two years have taken great discipline and it has shown me a lot about myself. I've proven that I can do anything that I put my mind to," said Mayfield, who has already graduated from K-State, but is working on a master's in criminology. "At one point, I really questioned whether I would ever play here. I just had trouble getting into the groove, but with Coach Snyder, earning my way onto the field proved a lot to me."
 
If it wasn't proven before, Mayfield displayed proof of his improvement in last year's finale when he went head-to-head with Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh, who would later go as the second selection of the NFL draft.
 
"I think that was my defining moment," said Mayfield, who is considered Kansas State's top pass blocker. "I didn't want him to wreck our whole game plan, and part of that was on me."
 
Thursday, Mayfield will face the Cornhuskers again when the two teams put 4-0 records on the line.
 
"We've put ourselves in a position to do some great things. In this second year, everyone has bought into the system more and more, and more players are doing what Coach Snyder has asked us to do."
 
First on that list is "... to go 1-0 each week. This is just another game we need to win to get to where we want to go."
 
Pullen, Wildcats Recognized Early: Kansas State standout Jacob Pullen has been named as a Top 50 candidate for the John R. Wooden Award by the Los Angeles Athletic Club.
 
The 50-man list will be cut in December, and another in March when the final voting ballot will be released for America's No. 1 basketball talent.
 
Pullen averaged 19.3 points last year, while setting single-season records for three-point field goals (110) and steals (67).
 
Pullen has earned first-team preseason All-American honors by Blue Ribbon Yearbook and The Sporting News, plus second-team recognition by Dick Vitale and third-team honors by Athlon Sports. Lindy's also selected Pullen as its Preseason Player of the Year in the Big 12 Conference.
 
Curtis Kelly was a First Team All-Big 12 selection by Blue Ribbon and Lindy's and a second-team choice by Athlon's.
 
Kansas State has received early notice by men's basketball pollsters as Lindy's has Frank Martin's Wildcats No. 4 in the nation, Athlon's No. 5, The Sporting News No. 6 and Blue Ribbon Yearbook No. 10.
 
Each publication also has K-State ranked either first or second in the preseason Big 12 poll.
 
K-State is coming off a 29-victory season and an appearance in the NCAA's Elite Eight.
 
Early Arrival is Encouraged on Thursday: Fans attending Thursday's Kansas State-Nebraska game are encouraged to arrive early for the 6:30 p.m. kickoff at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
 
Lots to the stadium and satellite parking lots will open at 1:30.
 
Those who typically park at the Veterinary Medicine Complex on Denison should note that the lot will not be available on Thursday due to classes. Parking, however, will be available at the Equestrian Center north of the fire station on Denison.
 
"We want to encourage our fans to arrive early, remain patient and give themselves plenty of time to get to the stadium on Thursday," said Athletics Director John Currie. "Our fan base is one of the most dedicated and well-respected contingents in all of college football, and I know they are excited to showcase their passion and reputation. This game provides us a unique opportunity to showcase our program, university and community, and we look forward to displaying our brand to a national audience."
 
The Riley County Police Department and Kansas Highway Patrol will be providing additional staffing at designated intersections in the Manhattan area to help control traffic flow and ease congestion prior to the game as fans travel to the stadium. Pregame traffic control points include 4th and Pierre streets, K-177 and Tuttle Creek Boulevard, K-177 and McDowell Creek Road, K-18 and Wildcat Creek, and Denison and Kimball.
 
Law enforcement personnel are also advising fans to follow the designated post-game routes as indicated on the traffic map available on the Wildcat Gameweek page at www.k-statesports.com.
 
With all tickets sold for Thursday's football game, athletics officials remind fans still seeking tickets to be certain of their authenticity before purchasing. Often in high-demand situations, fans purchase unauthorized tickets, so it's truly 'buyer beware' if someone purchases a ticket from a source other than the K-State Athletics ticket office or through k-statesports.com's Powercat Exchange. University policy prohibits solicitations, including ticket scalping, on the grounds of the sports complex.
 
 
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 mjanssen7@cox.net, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at klannou@kstatesports.com.