K-State Receiver Spots Talented and Deep

Sheldon Smith

Aug. 9, 2011

Editor's Note: Today, “K-State Sports Extra” begins its nine-part look at the 2011 Wildcats with each assistant coach taking an in-depth look at his respective position.

By Mark Janssen - K-State Sports Extra

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Kansas State has a number of quality receivers to scatter over the turf at Bill Snyder Family Stadium this fall.

In fact, K-State wide receiver coach Michael Smith goes as far to say, “We have as much talent with this group as we’ve ever had. We have speed and size with this group that we haven’t had in some years. I’m very excited.”

And at tight end, position coach Dana Dimel says the same: “I think we have as good of a pair of tight ends as anyone in the league.”

The names at wide receiver are familiar from the 2010 season – Chris Harper, Brodrick Smith and Tramaine Thompson.

All ultra-talented, which makes Coach Smith’s assessment of perhaps his leading receiver somewhat of a surprise.

“Sheldon Smith may be our best receiver right now,” said Coach Smith. “He had an unbelievable spring, so I’m anxious to see him back on the field. He’s just a smooth player, who would have played a lot on any team that we’ve had.”

It was also on the Catbacker Tour this summer that quarterback Collin Klein and center B.J. Finney were asked about the surprise player of the spring and summer.

Klein said, “Sheldon Smith.”

Finney said, “Can I name the same guy? Sheldon Smith.”

Ask Coach Smith about his top route runner, and his answer is, “Sheldon Smith.”

Ask the coach about the receiver with the best hands, and he says, “Sheldon Smith’s (hands) are as good as any.”

A product of Ceritos Community College in California, Smith (5-11, 180, Sr.) played in six games with three catches for 27 yards in 2009, before an injury sidelined him for the entire 2010 season.

Harper is a product of Wichita’s Northwest High School who started his career at the University of Oregon. Unhappy, he returned to the Sunflower State and caught 25 balls for 330 yards and four touchdowns for the Wildcats in 2010.

“Chris has a lot of talent and a big upside,” said Smith of the former quarterback. “Having only played the position for three years there are still things to learn, but he has those big-play capabilities. He needs to be a key factor for us this year.”

Brodrick Smith (6-2 209, Jr.) and Thompson (5-7, 165, So.) had seasons cut short in 2010 with season-ending injuries.

Smith ended up with 14 snags for 191 yards and three touchdowns, while Thompson had 19 receptions for 258 yards and contributed as a punt returner.

“Brodrick is a big, physical kid, who has a lot of ability,” said Coach Smith. “He showed flashes of that before the injury, so we need to get him back to that form.

“Tramaine is a gutsy, throw-back type receiver,” Smith said. “He really understands the game and is a tough, tough competitor. He has a chance to be a four-year starter, which hasn’t happened very often around here.”

Smith has oodles of depth at the collective receiver positions in Cole Bachamp (5-11, 182, Sr.), Zach McFall (6-0, 182, Jr.), Tyler Lockett (5-11, 170, Fr.) and Curry Sexton (5-11, 193, Fr.).

“I would have no hesitation to play any of them,” said Smith. “They all are tough kids and would all be dependable.”

If there is a concern, Smith said, “While we’re old in years, because of injuries and experience at the position, we’re a little young at the position. Losing Brodrick and Tramaine hurt last year, but it was a blessing for Chris in that he had a chance to mold himself into a receiver position.”

Smith continued, “My biggest concern is replacing the talent and the leadership of Aubrey Quarles. He was a guy who showed up every day and backed up his words on the field. He demonstrated great leadership for us.”

JUST AS TALENTED AT TIGHT END
Individuals playing every snap last year at tight end will return in 2011 with Travis Tannahill and Andre McDonald.

“They have different styles that feed off of each other,” said Dimel.

Tannahill (6-3, 243, Jr.) caught seven passes for 103 yards and a touchdown in 2010.

“He played all year injured,” said Dimel. “He’s really a good run blocker and uses his hands really well. He also has a nice knowledge for our offense in finding openings as a receiver. He’s just a real solid player.”

McDonald (6-8, 276, So.) is a “… very talented kid, who plays solid football,” according to Dimel.

McDonald, who caught four passes for 76 yards and one touchdown, will be used in a “shorter, controlled passing game, while Tannahill’s game has more finesse to it.”

Dimel added that he wouldn’t hesitate a second in using Zach Trujillo (6-4, 249, Fr.) if there was a need for a third tight end.

MEET Michael Smith (Wide Receivers)
• 15th season on the K-State staff
• Student assistant (1993), graduate assistant (1995-96), assistant coach (1997-2005 and 2009-11)
• Other coaching stops at Rice (2006) and Arizona (2007-08)
• A part of Kansas State’s ‘foundation’ years, arriving in 1988 and becoming a third-team All-American in 1991 and a two-time All-Big 8 selection in 1989 and 1991.
• Smith still ranks No. 3 in receptions (179), No. 3 in yardage (2,457) and No. 8 in touchdowns (11) in K-State history
• Smith’s bowl games number 13 as a coach
• A native of New Orleans, La.
• Wife – Karyn;  Children – Kylie, Kenzie, Kason, Kamryn

PROSPECTS AT WIDE RECEIVER

Cole Bachamp, 5-11, 192, Sr., Manhattan, Kan. (Butler CC)
Chris Harper, 6-1, 225, Jr., Wichita, Kan. (Oregon)
Curry Sexton, 5-11, 193, Fr., Abilene, Kan. (Abilene)
Brodrick Smith, 6-1, 209, Jr., Garden City, Kan. (Minnesota)
Sheldon Smith, 5-11, 180, Sr., Culver City, Calif. (Cerritos College)
Tramaine Thompson, 5-7, 165, So., Jenks, Okla. (Jenks)

PROSPECTS AT TIGHT END

Andre McDonald, 6-8, 276, So., Choctaw, Okla. (Choctaw)
Travis Tannahill, 6-3, 243, Jr., Olathe, Kan. (Olathe East)
Zach Trujillo, 6-4, 249, Fr., Edmond, Okla. (Deer Creek)


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