By Mark Janssen
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Carson Coffman's days as a Wildcat went much like those of his father, Paul, when he was a tight end for Kansas State from 1975-1978.
There were good days for dad Coffman who was a part of just six wins, but also plenty of sour ones as those were years when the Wildcats went a collective 0-21 in Big 8 Conference games.
For Carson, his K-State career ended with a personal winning performance in the 36-34 loss to Syracuse in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl last Thursday in New York City. In one of his fanciest statistical games, Coffman completed 17-of-23 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns, plus had a 30-yard reception of his own and rushed for 26 yards.
For the year, Coffman completed 65.0 percent of his passes to erase the KSU single-season record by Matt Miller of 64.2 in 1995, plus, Coffman's pass efficiency rating (143.06) ranked fifth in school history for a single season and his career mark ranks fourth (134.0).
So how does the senior out of Peculiar, Mo., summarize his career that included an 8-7 record as a starter?
"To be honest, it hasn't been everything I expected, but God had this plan for me," said Coffman. "He made this to be my experience."
In both seasons, Coffman opened the season as K-State's starting quarterback, but last year was a non-starter for the final eight games, and this year was forced to come off the bench in two of K-State's last five games.
It leaves Coffman to say, "It's not the career I would have picked out for myself, but I'm sure there will be a time when I look back and understand why it went like this."
While saying that he wished for more wins, like his father said of his years in the mid-1970s, "The high for me, and what I will take with me in the years to come, has been the friends and the relationships made through the football team.
"Going to a bowl game was a special goal," said Coffman. "It's been frustrating the last three seasons to sit at home. I thought our record would be better, but getting to a bowl game is something we really wanted to do."
Through the Years
Coffman arrived at K-State in 2006 after a storied career of two unbeaten state-title winning seasons at Raymore-Peculiar High School.
After redshirting in 2006, he played in four games in 2007 and six more in 2008 before earning the starting job in 2009.
The 6-foot-3, 211-pounder started the first four games in 2009, and played in two more, passing for 143 yards per game with a 61.0 percent completion rate with two touchdowns, but four interceptions.
In losing his starting job to Grant Gregory, Coffman admitted that it was a blow to his ego: "Yeah, a little bit. It hurt. It was embarrassing and I worked my butt off last summer to make sure it wouldn't happen again, but then it did. Sitting behind Josh (Freeman in 2008), I just thought when he leaves it's going to be my time to play, and play well for two years. It didn't exactly go like I wanted it to, but it's kind of funny how God has things planned out. It just hasn't been my time."
Throughout the season, Freeman, the starting quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Coffman kept in contact and traded films for each to view.
"He was my biggest fan all season, and I was his (biggest fan)," said Coffman of his former childhood friend and K-State roommate.
Ironically, on the day Coffman was to start in the Pinstripe Bowl, it was his buddy Freeman who was the cover boy of USA Today.
"Yeah, that was kind of neat," Coffman said. "I'm happy for him, and I know he's happy for me to be able to play in a bowl game."
Helping in Tough Times
The Coffman family is full of athletes: dad Paul went from free agent status to a Pro Bowl and Hall of Fame tight end with the Green Bay Packers; brother Chase played at Mizzou and is now in the NFL; sister Camille is currently playing volleyball at Wyoming; and, younger brother Cameron is in his senior year of high school and exploring multiple Division I offers including calls from LSU and Arizona State.
Through the rugged times of the last two years, Coffman says, "My family helped a lot. They just continued to encourage me and tell me that they knew that I was a good player. They just said to keep working hard and things would work out."
But at times, it was tough. Tough for Coffman on the field, and for the Coffman family in the stands.
Paul semi-jokes that family members couldn't wear 'Coffman' jerseys because of how a few fans viewed his son's play.
And Carson recalls, "There was a game where some fans were mouthing off about me and my brother turned around and confronted him. All that stuff probably got to my family more than it did me. Throughout this, I believed in myself, and that's all that really matters."