SE: Smith High on Pass Catchers

Wide Receivers coach Michael Smith is in his 16th season on the K-State staff

Aug. 26, 2012

Editor’s Note: Today marks the conclusion of K-State Sports Extra’s nine-part look at the 2012 Wildcats with each assistant coach taking an in-depth look at his respective position. Past articles include the quarterbacks, defensive ends, interior defensive line, offensive line, linebackers, running backs/tight ends, secondary and special teams. Today’s final article showcases the wide receivers.

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By Mark Janssen

With hopes of throwing the ball more to provide for a more balanced offense in 2012, Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein can rest comfortably in the fact that his cast of receivers are talented with sticky hands and fast feet.

“This is the most excited we’ve been with our receivers since coach came back,” said receivers coach Michael Smith. “Chris (Harper) will be a three-year starter, Tramaine (Thompson) is off to a solid start with his career, and we’re excited about Tyler (Lockett) and Curry (Sexton) after the freshman seasons they had last year.”

At 6-foot-1, 234 pounds, Harper returns as K-State’s leading receiver after snagging 40 balls for 547 yards and five touchdowns last year. For his two-year Wildcat career, the Wichita native and transfer from Oregon has 65 total catches with nine touchdowns.

After playing quarterback at Oregon in 2008, Smith said, “Chris had to learn the receiver position. In the last couple years, he’s tried to depend on his athletic ability to get him through things, but in the last year, he’s learned how to be the type of receiver he wants to be. He’s spent the extra time trying to master the craft of being a good route runner, blocking out of the position and learning some of the nuances or reading zones and man-matchups.”

Thompson, who is 5-foot-8 and 167 pounds, has added a touch of weight after playing the 2011 season closer to 160 pounds when he caught 21 passes for 338 yards and a team-high of 16.1 yards per reception.

“Tramaine is the most competitive guy I have. What he lacks in size he makes up for in heart,” said Smith of Thompson, who is a 4.5 runner in the 40-yard dash. “He learned the importance of the weight room and has improved his strength, which at times has prevented him from reaching his full capacity.”

Playing just nine games last year due to an injury, Lockett caught 18 passes for 246 yards and three scores in his freshman year. In addition, the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder returned 16 kickoffs for a whopping 35.2-yard average.

“Tyler is just a tremendous worker,” said Smith, adding that Lockett possesses 4.38 40 speed. “Last year, he was thrust into a position and he performed well.”

But, Smith said, “I told him I don’t classify him as a great wide receiver, yet. People tend to associate his kickoff returning ability as part of his receiving ability. It’s like with Brandon Banks a few years ago. He was a specialist, but not a great receiver, but people tended to lump his numbers together.”

Smith added, “What we’ve tried to tell Tyler is that he’s off to a nice start, but you really have to master your craft. This year, he’s not going to sneak up on anyone. He’s done all the work we’ve asked, plus worked out with his dad (Kevin Lockett, K-State’s all-time leading receiver) to take his game to the next level.”

Sexton, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound sophomore, rounds out the two-deep look at receiver after catching four passes for 43 yards in 2011.

“Everything about Curry is just solid,” said Smith. “He’s not the biggest kid, he’s not the fastest kid, but he is a prideful kid who just has a knack and savvy about the position. He loves to compete and has become a vocal leader at a young age. Kids respond to him, and they respect him. He really plays the game with a tenacity.”

Additional depth could come from Torell Miller (6-2, 214, Jr.) and Kyle Klein (6-3, 210, RFr.), who is the younger brother of K-State quarterback Collin Klein. Miller had four catches for 54 yards last year after starting his career as a defensive back. Klein redshirted the 2011 season working out as a tight end before making the switch to receiver during preparations for the Cotton Bowl.

“I think we have the kind of depth that will make this a solid group,” said Smith. “We should be a lot faster than in the past.”

• Kevin Lockett, K-State’s all-time leading receiver, is the father of Tyler Lockett. In his freshman season in 1993, Kevin caught 50 passes for 770 yards.
• Tyler’s uncle, Aaron, also played at K-State and currently ranks fourth in Wildcat history in receptions (137) and yardage (2,400).
• Playing as a freshman for Oregon, Harper became the first Duck in eight years to run, pass and catch a touchdown in the same season
• Harper has already graduated with a degree in communications

• As a Wildcat from 1988-91, Smith put up numbers of 179 catches and 2,457 yards, both of which still rank third in K-State history. At the time he graduated, Smith’s yardage ranked third in Big Eight history.
• In his 16th season on the Wildcat staff, Smith was a third team All-American in 1991 and an honorable mention All-American in 1989
• Was on the roster of the Kansas City Chiefs in 1992
• Other coaching stops have been at Rice and Arizona
• Has coached in 14 bowl games

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