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New Guys Step Up in Season Opener
K-State's Kody Cook pulls down a pass for a touchdown against Stephen F. Austin's Maurice Poullard at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas on August 30, 2014. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)
August 31, 2014
By Kelly McHugh
K-State football kicked off its 2014 season with a bang yesterday evening by defeating the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, 55-16.
A true family reunion, Bill Snyder Family Stadium grew its sellout streak to 14 games as passionate purple K-State fans from across the nation packed the stands.
From the opening whistle to the final drive, the Wildcats not only showed up hot and ready to go, but also introduced a few new players to the gridiron who can be expected to continue to make an impact in years to come.
True freshmen and transfers alike stepped up in big ways to impact K-State while Wildcats making their debut performances also turned heads on the field.
On the Lumberjacks' opening drive, K-State linebacker Elijah Lee opened his Wildcat career by recording the Wildcats' first sack of 2014 just two minutes into the game. The true freshman out of Blue Springs High School wound up finishing the game with two sacks for 11 yards. Not a bad stat line for an 18-year-old.
"Elijah played phenomenal tonight," said senior defensive end Ryan Mueller. "I'm glad we're having our younger guys step up. I definitely saw his growth coming into camp and through camp, and now seeing him put it all together on the stage you've got to do it on. He did phenomenal. Hats off to him; got to keep him going."
Junior wide receiver Kody Cook looked like a seasoned veteran under the lights last night as he recorded three catches for 44 yards with one touchdown.
His touchdown came in the third quarter of the game when Waters threw a 22-yard pass into the end zone to Cook, who snatched the ball out of the air to put the Wildcats up 34-10 over the Lumberjacks.
"Jake put it up and I just went and got it," said Cook modestly when asked to describe his touchdown catch. "He couldn't have thrown a better ball. He made it easy... It was really exciting. It was a childhood dream to be a K-State Wildcat, so to get a touchdown my first game, that's really exciting."
Cook transferred to K-State as a quarterback from Hutchinson Community College before the 2013 season. During his year as redshirt with the Wildcats (2013), he made the position switch from quarterback to wide receiver, and it didn't take him long to get into the swing of things.
Though he came in as a quarterback, Cook had had previous experience as a wide receiver at Hutchinson and said it is his favorite position to play. Plus, he said, working alongside guys like senior wide receivers Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton has been a lot of fun.
"We're brothers, all of us, we get a long well. We take care of each other. We're all pretty close," Cook said of this year's Wildcat wide receiver corps.
Despite the fact that the two-deep had sophomore Charles Jones listed at the No. 1 running back earlier this week, the much-anticipated starting position went to senior DeMarcus Robinson.
While Robinson was the only Wildcat running back with prior in-game experience (the senior had only 11 rushes for 45 yards during his career), he put on an impressive showing by rushing for 49 yards on 11 carries and leading the team in receiving by catching four balls for 47 yards.
"I think he played well," K-State head coach Bill Snyder said about Robinson. "I think he ran well and I think he ran hard. He got some extra yardage from time to time, and, overall, I was pleased and I hope he is too."
However, while Robinson got the nod at the starting position, Snyder called on Jones often and the two switched in and out of the game.
"I love the fact that he ran as hard as he did," explained Snyder on Jones' play. "He was an aggressive runner. Charles made some of those second-effort plays and I was pleased about that. He played well."
Like Robinson, Jones made an impact on the Wildcat offense and finished the game by rushing 55 yards on eight carries and scoring two touchdowns. In his career debut, the sophomore showed poise and displayed a quickness unmatched by the Stephen F. Austin defense.
"It was like no other (feeling)," Jones said of his feelings after his first career touchdown. "It was one of the happiest moments of my life - my first collegiate touchdown; that felt really good."
Though last night wasn't his first night on the field, redshirt sophomore Deante Burton made his first career start. The Manhattan High School product finished the game catching three balls for 40 yards. Earning that first start as a Wildcat was a moment Burton said he will never forget.
"It was cool. It was definitely something that I'll never forget," said Burton of making his first start at K-State. "It's a feeling that I'll always think about, and if I could, I would just like to thank everybody who has supported me from I was younger to now and hopefully for more years to come. It was a very cool moment to have."
As for the Wildcat veterans, Waters opened the 2014 season on a high note, going 19-of-28 for 223 yards, two touchdowns and one interception while also rushing for 77 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns.
On the defensive end of the ball, linebacker Jonathan Truman and defensive back Randall Evans led the team with five tackles each.
With promise from its youth and leadership from its veterans last night under the bright lights of Bill Snyder Family Stadium, K-State showed assurance of an exciting 2014 season to come.
For a full game recap, stats and more from K-State Sports, click here.
To check out what people nation-wide had to say about K-State football on twitter, click here to check out the Wildcats storify of the game.