SE: A Look Inside this Year’s Spring Game

By Kelly McHugh-Stewart

K-State fans will have their first look at the 2016 football team tomorrow afternoon at the annual Purple/White Spring Game. Tomorrow’s game will conclude K-State’s spring practice slate and is set to kick off at 1:10 p.m., in Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

“It’s just a matter of trying to keep it real as much as anything,” explained Wildcat head coach Bill Snyder earlier this week. “We consider the spring game as our 15th practice, and it’s just a matter of being able to replicate, as much as we can, a game day experience.”

Snyder uses the spring game to emulate a typical K-State game day, and from the pregame meal to the pregame meetings, it’s a valuable asset where younger players can get a taste of what a K-State game day will look like in the fall.   

“It gets the guys who haven’t played into the routine of what a game day is like,” said senior linebacker Charmeachealle Moore. “We go through everything that we do on a normal game day so we can help get our players into that game day mentality”

After practicing in an empty stadium for the past few weeks, the spring game also provides the team the opportunity to show off what they have been working on this spring to their passionate purple fans.

“We’ve had closed practices, so this will be good for us to see (the fans) and for them to see us,” added Moore. “We’re all very excited. We want to show them our fight. It’s been a long spring, so we want to show our endurance and our fight. We want to finish (the spring) strong.”

One of the biggest questions surrounding this year’s spring game is: who will get the nod at starting quarterback? While earlier this week Snyder said the competition is still too close to call, he said he’s liked the fight shown by senior Joe Hubener, junior Jesse Ertz and redshirt freshman Alex Delton.

“We have three guys who are really on the ground floor of competing for the starting spot,” said Snyder. “Every day it seems as though one rises up above the others, things start to register in your mind, then the next day somebody else does the same thing. That makes it tremendously competitive. When someone does well the others notice, and that indicates to me the competitive nature and spirit of the others that when someone rises up they (all) compete.”

 Along with the quarterback battle, competition for starting roles is fierce across the board.

While many players are fighting to make a name for themselves, there are two players who have, seemingly, stood out to both Snyder and their teammates. These two players have gone above and beyond their competition, and that is why they have been chosen as this year’s K-State Sports Extra Purple/White Spring Game players to watch.

Offensive Player to Watch: Byron Pringle
About: Wildcat fans have yet to see sophomore wide receiver Byron Pringle in action, but according to teammates, he’s been turning heads in practice. A transfer from Butler Community College, Pringle was rated a top community-college prospect after grabbing 28 receptions for 432 yards and scoring nine touchdowns at Butler en route to Second Team All-Jayhawk Community College Conference honors. The Tampa, Florida, native has been competitive in spring practices and will be looked upon to make in impact in 2016.

From Coach Snyder: “There’s a new young guy by the name of Pringle who’s with us as a wide receiver, and he continues to learn the system. He’s learning it rather rapidly and as he does, you see his skill level enhance itself a good deal. He’s a player who sticks out in my mind.”

From his teammates: “Byron Pringle, I like him. He’s a (community college) guy, but he’s done a lot of things this spring and I think he’s going to catch a lot of eyes this year. He’s in the playbook and he’s making plays at practice. If he keeps doing that and keeps making plays, he’s going to catch a lot of eyes.” – Senior Offensive Lineman Terrale Johnson

“He continues to improve every day. He continues to do special things whether that’s great catches or jumping over guys making one-handed catches. I think the biggest improvement I’ve seen from him is that he’s getting a better understanding of the offense. He’s caught on really fast.” – Senior Linebacker Will Davis

Defensive Player to Watch: Jordan Willis

About: The senior defensive end from Kansas City, Missouri, enters the spring coming off of a stellar junior campaign where he recorded 36 tackles, including 15.5 tackles for loss, and led K-State with 9.5 sacks. Willis has started every game over the last two seasons and has been a valuable asset to the defensive line through his talent, hard work ethic and leadership.

From Coach Snyder: “He’s had an excellent spring, day in and day out. When you talk about inconsistencies, I wouldn’t talk about Jordan that way at all. He’s been very consistent about what he’s done in a good way… He is one of those lead-by-example kind of guys. Our players respect him because of how he competes, how hard he works and how he plays, and consequently there is a built in leadership that goes with that. Other guys want to follow suit and that’s a good thing.”

From his teammates: “I think the better question would be what aren’t his attributes. To see the progression of him continuing to work and continuing to enhance his skill set, he’s a special guy with so many special skills. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, he can rush the passer, he can play the run; he’s a do-it-all type of defensive end and I’m lucky to play behind him.” – Senior Linebacker Will Davis.

“He’s talking more now, and that’s good. He gets the quarterback and he’s a ball-hungry guy, that’s what we’re all trying to be. Jordan is a great dude, we love him. I think he’s All-American caliber.” – Senior Linebacker Charmeachealle Moore

Spring Game Information:
Tickets to the game are on sale for only $5 through the K-State Athletics Ticket office online at www.k-statesports.com/tickets, by phone at 1-800-221-CATS or at the main ticket office inside Bramlage Coliseum. Gates to the stadium open at 11:30 a.m., on Saturday. There are a limited number of gates open around the stadium – M, P, R, T on the east side and B and D on the west side.

General admission seating will be available in Sections 3-9 on the west side and Sections 20-26 on the east side. The north and south end zones and east View Level seating will be closed.

The Purple/White Spring Game will be broadcast on various stations on the K-State Sports Network (click here for affiliate list) in addition to Sirius channel 106, XM channel 199. Pregame coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. The K-StateHD.TV broadcast with audio from the K-State Sports Network will begin at 1 p.m. The broadcast is available only to premium subscribers. To sign up, please visit www.k-statehd.tv.

“(The fans are) part of the whole atmosphere. They’re part of the whole college football experience and are part of why we do what we do, so we’re super excited about it,” said Davis. “We want to show all the hard work you’ve put in, the strides we’ve made from last season, we want to show what we can do and give a little preview to the fall.”  

For even more information on this weekend’s events surrounding tomorrow’s Purple/White Spring Game, please click here.