Wildcats Announce 2015 Signing Class | Part 2
A group made up of 12 defensive players, 11 offensive players and one player listed and an athlete, the 2015 signing class spans nine states - Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas - and includes only one transfer, Aulelio Olomua, a defensive end from Mesa Community College in Mesa, Arizona.
"Defining character and value system is really important to us," head coach Bill Snyder said at his press conference about this year's class, "and seemingly this is a group of young guys that certainly have athletic ability, but I think first and foremost, they're a group that collectively are a strong valued, high valued group of young guys."
While yesterday's K-State Sports Extra looked at the class as a whole and took a closer look at program's up-and-coming offensive players (you can click here to read that story), today we will take a closer look at a few defensive signees as well as the Wildcat walk-ons who have been selected to receive aid since September.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE 2015 CLASS | DEFENSE
The Tucker Trio
K-State assistant coach Andre Coleman used his strong connections in Georgia to land players that helped highlight this year's signing class.
Recruiting three talented defenders in linebackers Justin Hughes and Elijah Sullivan along with defensive back Duke Shelley, all three hail from Tucker High School in Tucker, Georgia. Coleman's recruiting abilities helped the Wildcats land players with potential for greatness in the years to come.
"Andre has done a great job," said Snyder about Coleman's ability to recruit in the state of Georgia. "He has a background there and that's one thing that, kind of like all things in the world, unfortunately, it's more about who you know than what you know, and Andre knows a lot of people in Georgia. He's done a nice job of following through and staying in the loop in the state down there."
Hughes was originally signed in 2014 and deferred his enrollment to this January, while Shelley and Sullivan will arrive in time for the fall season.
Hughes, a first team all-state honoree in 2013 by the Georgia Sportswriters who was rated the 70th-best outside linebacker by ESPN, recorded 180-plus tackles over his junior and senior seasons at Tucker. Along with Shelley and Sullivan, Hughes helped the Tigers to a 14-1 record his senior season (2013) and a trip to the Georgia State Championship.
Shelley was viewed as the nation's 22nd-best cornerback according to Rivals.com and ranks 33rd by ESPN after an exciting career at Tucker. He was an honorable-mention all-state selection by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was named to the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) All-Region 2-AAAAAA team in 2014.
Sullivan was a bit of a surprise as he was committed to Auburn for nearly a year until an unexpected circumstance resulted in him not signing with the Tigers. In the end, with the previous relationship established with Coleman and a pair of teammates already signed with K-State, he decided on the Wildcats and inked Wednesday afternoon.
Sullivan was ranked as the nation's 26th-best outside linebacker according to Scout.com and was ranked 28th according to Rivals.com. Like Shelley, Sullivan was also named an honorable mention all-state selection by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was named to GHSA All-Region 2-AAAAAA team.
Snyder said he is confident in all three players' abilities. However, it is now up to each individual player to prepare himself before the 2015 season.
"All of them can, whether all of them will or not remains to be seen," said Snyder on the trio's ability to make plays on the field. "It comes down to how well you can prepare yourself."
A Familiar Face
Bill Snyder couldn't help but smile when he talked about his new defensive lineman, Bryce English from DeSoto, Texas. Along with displaying an exciting, dynamic playing ability on the field, Snyder said English possesses the value system he looks for in his players.
Plus, Snyder is familiar with the English family as he coached Bryce's father, Lee, at North Texas State in 1978 when Snyder was on the Mean Green coaching staff.
"I like Bryce," Snyder said with a smile. "I like him because of his character. I coached his father at North Texas. Bryce is one of those guys who, we talk about hard work and the effort a guy puts in, and it's so apparent with him when you watch videotape. He's a very explosive young man. He's a physical, physical player."
At DeSoto High School, English helped the Eagles to a 10-2 record in 2014 and helped take the team to the second round of the Texas 6A D1 playoffs. He carded 56 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, six sacks and three forced fumbles his senior season on his way to being named the 2014 District 6-6A co-Defensive Player of the year as well as garnering honorable mention all-state honors from the Texas Associated Press Sports Editors.
THEY'VE EARNED IT
In addition to the 24 players in this year's signing class, K-State has awarded scholarships to eight former walk-ons over the course of the last six months.
Punter Nick Walsh went on aid in January, while defensive lineman Will Geary will be on aid in the fall. In September, long snapper Dalton Converse, quarterback Joe Hubener, place kicker Ian Patterson, defensive back Dylan Schellenberg, linebacker David Smith and wide receiver Stanton Weber were all put on scholarship. Schellenberg and Smith were seniors during the 2014 season.
"You have to realize that there are no gifts here. Every one of those young guys has earned the right to have a scholarship in their hands," explained Snyder. "You look at all those guys and every single one of them, they're either starters or they're guys who played a great deal. Three of them are special teams guys who started on the special teams units and they've done well. All of them deserve it, they truly do.
"When you look at over the years, I would suggest that we have put more walk-on guys on scholarship than any program in the country. But when you look at the guys that have gone on, you say, 'These are some pretty good players.' You can take whoever you want, the Ryan Muellers, the B.J. Finneys, the Jonathan Trumans, Jordy Nelsons, and it just goes on down the road."
SPRING GAME IS HEADING TO KANSAS CITY
Kansas City, here come the Wildcats!
With construction of the new Vanier Football Complex presenting logistical and safety issues for both the K-State football team and fans to hold the annual spring football game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Athletics Director John Currie announced today that the 2015 Purple/White Spring Game and surrounding activities will be held Saturday, April 25, in Kansas City's Sporting Park, the award-winning facility and home of Sporting Kansas City.
Currie said Sporting Park was the most reasonable and creative solution for K-State to play its spring game while construction continues at Bill Snyder Family Stadium and will allow the Wildcats, fans and the entire University community a unique opportunity to enjoy one of the most state-of-the-art sporting facilities in the country in addition to a day full of festive entertainment and activities. In addition to the game, the day will be filled with numerous activities for fans and families of all ages including pre-game hospitality opportunities, interactive games for children and appearances from Willie Wildcat, K-State cheerleaders and also the Pride of Wildcat Land Marching Band.
To continue reading about this year's Purple/White Spring Game, please click here.