SE: Risner Eager for Challenge Ahead

Hosting the second-ranked football team in the nation may be a daunting task, but redshirt freshman center Dalton Risner isn’t looking at it that way. 

As a matter of fact, he prefers it. He’s excited for the challenge ahead.

“When you have a team like TCU coming in, I love it. I love the opportunity,” the 6-foot-5 offensive lineman said with a smile on Tuesday afternoon. “I’d much rather have a team like that coming in than a team that we’re supposed to beat. I love setting the expectations high, and I love being the underdog.”

Coming off of last week’s 36-34 loss to No. 19 Oklahoma State – the first loss of Risner’s collegiate career – the young center is eager to get back on the field. He only has four games under his belt, but he’s energetic and enthusiastic about the task at hand. He believes there is nothing his team can’t do if they put their minds to it.

“I have so much faith in all my teammates,” Risner said. “I’m never going to think that we can’t do something. I have faith in them. I trust in them and whatever adversity we face, I believe we’ll be able to handle it well.”

As the center, Risner is looked to as a leader on this year’s offensive line despite the fact that he is, by far, the youngest guy out there. When he lines up, he’s surrounded by veterans in seniors Luke Hayes, Matt Kleinsorge, Cody Whitehair and Boston Stiverson. 

“Dalton works so hard. He’s come a long way,” said junior quarterback Joe Hubener. “He’s grown more confident in himself throughout these four games; he’s just doing a great job. He understands what the offensive line is supposed to do, and he’s stepping up as a leader even though all those guys are older than him. That’s huge as a redshirt freshman that he’s able to do that.”

When Risner won the spot as the team’s starting center earlier this fall, the Wiggins, Colorado, native knew he would have big shoes to fill. He’s hoping to follow in the footsteps of four-year starter and All-American center B.J. Finney and to continue a long line of Wildcat success at the position. 

“It’s so great to have B.J. ahead of me because I can look at everything he did,” said Risner. “I watch so much film on him. I get so much better by watching him. It’s hard to fill his shoes because there are so many expectations, but who wouldn’t want that? I like the expectations set high.” 

He sets the expectations high for himself, and he sets the expectations high for his teammates. So, come tomorrow evening at 6:30 p.m., when K-State (3-1, 0-1 Big 12) takes the field in Bill Snyder Family Stadium with the No. 2 TCU Horned Frogs (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) across the way, Risner will be ready and expects his team to be ready as well. 

“The main thing for me is, I just have so much faith in this team,” Risner said with a smile. “Everyone wants to know if it’s going to be an upset, but to me, I think we can beat them. I think we have a really great opportunity.” 

Tomorrow evening’s game will be the 23rd-consecutive sellout in Manhattan and will be aired nationally on FOX with Gus Johnson (play-by-play), Joel Klatt (analyst) and Molly McGrath (sideline) on the call. The contest can also be heard across the K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play), Stan Weber (analyst) and Matt Walters (sideline) calling the action.

For game notes, the fan guide and more information on tomorrow evening’s game, please click here