Defensive End Spots Showing Rapid Improvement

Jordan Voelker

Aug. 16, 2011

By Mark Janssen - K-State Sports Extra

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Kansas State’s defensive end prospects for 2011 aren’t real tall, aren’t real beefy and aren’t experienced at the Big 12 level.

However, Wildcat defensive ends coach Joe Bob Clements says, “Our ceiling is high. I think the amount of improvement possibility in my meeting room is higher than any place on the team. We have upperclassmen, but as for experience, we don’t have it at this level of competition. But what we do have is so much room where we can grow.”

Entering fall camp, Clements is working with two seniors, a pair of juniors and two freshmen. Collectively, they have zero Big 12 starts.

Turning heads in the spring were Meshak Williams and Jordan Voelker, who are being backed by Adam Davis and Laton Dowling.

“Meshak came out of the spring as probably the best every-down player,” said Clements. “He has good length in his arms, and he has great speed for the position. He’s not real heavy, but he is strong. He’s a guy we think can hang in there against the bigger guys, plus has the speed to be a good rusher with his length and speed.”

Williams (6-2, 231, Jr.) is a transfer from Hutchinson Community College where he tallied 44 tackles, which included 17 for negative yardage, while eight of TFLs were sacks.

Voelker (6-3, 240, Sr.) played in five games last year for K-State after a two-year career at Butler Community College in 2008 and 2009 where he helped the Grizzlies to a No. 1 ranking as a freshman.

“Jordan is exactly what you want in terms of height, weight and strength,” said Clements. “But pound for pound, he’s our best player at this position in the weight room.”

Voelker is making the transition from being a junior college tight end, but his progress has been steady and at a good rate.

“He played as well as any of our guys in stringing together 15 straight practices during the spring,” said Clements. “He still has a significant amount of improvement to make, which you don’t normally see for a senior, but those practices prior to the bowl game, followed by the spring season, really helped him.

“Last year, he was a little uncomfortable because he had never played the position, but the reps have really helped him,” said Clements. “The game has started slowing down for him, and he’s started playing faster.”

Clements put Voelker in the mold of past defensive ends Thomas Houchin and Andrew Schull, while Williams is said to be a Melvin Williams- or Tearrius George-type defensive end.

As a reserve, Davis (6-0, 254, Jr.) has recovered from a back injury that sidelined the Hutchinson Community College talent last year.

Now healthy, Clements said, “He can do some things as far as rushing the quarterback that you don’t teach. It’s like watching a basketball player who has a spin move. Adam can do some things naturally that most guys just can’t do.”

Also as a backup, Dowling (6-2, 247, RFr.) was ranked the 10th-best player in Kansas in 2009 when he averaged 18 tackles per game at linebacker at Dodge City High School.

“Laton did some special things in high school at linebacker but wasn’t probably fast enough to play that position here,” said Clements. “He’s going through some growing pains, but is one of those guys who is progressing at a nice rate. He was better in the fall than his first spring, and better last spring than he was in the fall. He just needs to learn how to play not nervous and take that next step.”

Senior Payton Kirk (6-5, 264, Sr.) started the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at defensive tackle and will likely see more inside snaps than at end, but he has played both positions and has 26 games to his K-State resume.

Also in the mix will be true freshman Kyle Klein (6-4, 218), who is the younger brother of K-State quarterback Collin Klein. The position is new to Klein as he was a safety during his prep career in Loveland, Colo.

“Kyle is the fastest end that we have, but he has that learning curve in front of him,” said Clements. “He’s long, he’s fast and he’s strong. The thing he lacks is experience at the position.”

MEET Joe Bob Clements (Defensive Ends)
• 10th season at K-State
• Student assistant (1999-2000), graduate assistant (2001-02), assistant coach (2003-05 and 2009-11)
• Assistant coach at San Diego State (2006-07) and Kansas (2008)
• Arrived at K-State as a walk-on in 1994, but turned into a three-year scholarship performer from 1996-98 and helped the Wildcats to 31 victories.
• Clements’ bowl games number 12 as a player and a coach
• Native of Emporia, Kan.
• Wife – Pelusa;  Children – Orianna, Chance, Emma, Kaden

Adam Davis, 6-0, 254, Jr., Folkston, Ga. (Hutchinson CC)
Laton Dowling, 6-2, 247, RFr., Dodge City, Kan. (Dodge City)
Payton Kirk, 6-5, 264, Sr., Liberty, Mo. (Liberty)
Kyle Klein, 6-4, 218, Fr., Loveland, Colo. (Loveland)
Jordan Voelker, 6-3, 240, Sr., Newton, Kan. (Butler CC)
Meshak Williams, 6-2, 231, Jr., Sylvester, Ga. (Hutchinson CC)

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