Cantele Answers Call
Saturday, Cantele just might find himself kicking against his former school when the Bears visit Bill Snyder Family Stadium in a 6:10 p.m. kickoff. Cantele played both sports in high school, but accepted a scholarship to play soccer at the Springfield-based school after his senior year. Saying only that, "I didn't have a good experience (at Missouri State)," in his only year in Springfield, he decided to give football a try so he sent tapes of his high school days to K-State, Kansas and Miami. The day after Bill Snyder was hired, Wildcat assistant coach Joe Bob Clements gave Cantele a call and he joined the program in January of 2009. After not seeing any game action a year ago, Cantele was poised to back up Josh Cherry in 2010 before an injury to Cherry opened the door to his opportunity this past week. Of being told last Wednesday that he would kick against the Bruins, Cantele said, "Those days until the game were pretty long. I had been kicking well up until that point, but then on Thursday I shanked a few." On Thursday, perhaps, but not on Saturday when, in a 31-22 victory over UCLA, Cantele had four kickoffs that went for touchbacks, was true on four extra points, plus added a 35-yard field goal that split the uprights. For his efforts, he was named the Big 12 Co-Special Teams Player of the Week. "It was in the middle of the field, which are the easiest to make," said Cantele of his three-pointer. "They don't get much easier than that." And of the kickoffs that went eight- to 10-yards deep into the end zone, Cantele admitted, "That's about as good as I can hit it." For the record, K-State had just six touchbacks all of last year and Cantele had four against the Bruins. Being a late replacement for Cherry, Snyder said of Cantele's effort, "He did a nice job. He hit the ball with confidence. I don't think he showed the effects from being out there the first time. Where I was really impressed was how he hit the ball into the wind on kickoffs." SPEAKING OF KICKOFFS: Bill Snyder was disappointed with K-State's coverage on kickoffs last year as teams averaged 20.9 kickoff-return yards a game. Saturday against the Bruins, Cantele booted four touchbacks, but Snyder was upset that two Josh Smith returns covered 55 yards, which included a 28-yard return and another of 27 yards. "We might have been the second worst kickoff team in history (Saturday). We were the worst last year, so I guess that means we've made some improvement," said the K-State coach. "We hit the ball well, but now we need to learn how to cover it." BIG 12 AWARDS: Cantele was joined by Daniel Thomas as a Big 12 Player of the Week award winner. Thomas, who rushed for a Wildcat season-opening game record of 234 yards and two touchdowns against UCLA, shared the offensive player of the week award with Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter. It was the first weekly conference honor for either player, while it marked the first time in school history that K-State had two conference player-of-the-week honors following the first weekend of play. VOTE FOR K-STATE: Kansas State earned votes in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches' Top 25 Polls on Tuesday. The Cats also received votes in both polls last year on November 8, after K-State defeated Kansas. INJURY REPORT: While not being specific on the injuries, Snyder said that Ethan Douglas "would not" play against Missouri State this week, but Clyde Aufner "possibly" could play." Both are Wildcat offensive tackles. CATS IN THE NFL: Kansas State had 14 former players on National Football League active rosters as the season opens this weekend. The longest tenured Wildcats are nine-year pros Rock Cartwright and Jon McGraw, plus eighth-year cornerback Terrance Newman. Two rookies from the 2010 roster made teams as Brandon Banks earned a spot with the Washington Redskins after being signed as an undrafted free agent, while sixth-round draft pick Joshua Moore held a spot with the Chicago Bears. Those added to NFL practice squads through Tuesday were defensive lineman Rob Jackson (Washington), running back James Johnson (Green Bay) and tight end Jeron Mastrud (New England). Click here to see the Cats on active rosters PURPLE PRIDE TIME: K-State fans are being asked to show your Purple Pride in Kansas City prior to the Iowa State game on September 18. Fans are being asked to join the K-State Alumni Association for a pregame tailgate from 7-10 a.m., at the Arrowhead Pavilion. Admission is $5, or free for those younger than 18. Willie, cheerleaders and the K-State Marching Band will make an appearance. Fans are also invited to check out K-State's academic offerings outside Gate F. Each booth will have a little Purple Pride to give away. 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 email@example.com, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at firstname.lastname@example.org.