By Mark Janssen
(Editor's Note: By NCAA rule, "Sports Extra" cannot list names of prospective recruits until they have actually signed with the university on Feb. 2.)
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Upon his return to the coaching sideline in 2009, Bill Snyder had a choice to make when it came to recruiting.
He could continue to recruit in his comfort zone, or, he could blend in to the new trend of offering oodles of scholarships even prior to the first snap of the senior season for many players.
With the concern of having to take only what players were left if he didn't make the early offers, the Wildcat coach joined the relatively new trend.
Now just weeks before the Feb. 2, 2011, signing day, Snyder says, "I don't like what we're doing at all. That's nothing to do with the youngsters that we offered and have committed to us, but I'm just uncomfortable with the process. I thought I might grow to accept it, but that hasn't happened.
"There's a good chance that we might make some changes next year and temper what we're doing early," said Snyder. "We initially did it because everyone else was doing it, and the thinking that if we didn't, all the players would be gone.
"But what I'm seeing is a lot of quality football players out there, which would lead you to believe that a lot of youngsters go into their senior year and become prominent players," said Snyder. "They've improved their game, but some schools have already filled their boat at that given position."
Snyder says that the program had "18 or 19" commitments going into December adding that the ratio was roughly a one-third (community college) to two-thirds (high school).
"We're trying to balance our classes, but we face the double-edged sword of going to community colleges to fill immediate needs, but then that's not rectifying the problem that we inherited of having a top-heavy roster with older players," said Snyder in reference to this year's senior class that numbered 22.
In K-State's final-game starting lineup were 13 seniors, 7 juniors, six sophomores and two freshmen (including specialists).
Ideally, Snyder said he would like to have an average of 3.5 scholarships designated to each position on the field, and to have a senior, junior, sophomore and freshman at each position. But he admits, "That will take a long time."
Of this year's roster, Snyder said, "Our depth at some positions was really a problem. The guys we had on the field, were the guys we had available.
"If you don't have the depth, it's not a matter of not having a replacement, but you don't have the opportunity for other players to finish out ballgames," said Snyder. "Consequently, the only guys you have are the ones you have going all the time, which tends to wear them down."
While slightly altered by injuries, here's how K-State's two-deep roster looked for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl against Syracuse.
Starting Offense - Six seniors, two juniors, three sophomores
Starting Defense - Four seniors, four juniors, one sophomore, two freshmen
Starting Specialists - Three seniors, one junior, two sophomores
No. 2 Offense - Three seniors, four juniors, one sophomore, three freshmen
No. 2 Defense - Two seniors, seven juniors, two sophomores
No. 2 Specialists - Two seniors, one junior, two sophomores, one freshman