It's no secret that Kansas State's defense needs help.
The football Wildcats allowed an average of 28.5 points and 441 yards per game. To close out the regular season, they allowed 41, 44 and 38 points, and that doesn't count Syracuse scoring at will against K-State in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
With that in mind, coach Bill Snyder says positions are open for the taking, which includes first-year community college transfers, plus, high school freshmen from the Wildcats' recruiting class announced last week.
"I encourage everyone to make the attempt to come in and compete to play immediately," said the Wildcat coach. "I think there is value in that. I do not like for a young person to automatically think that ‘I'm going to redshirt this year.' When that happens some time you are just not into it as much and end up wasting a significant amount of time by not giving it your best effort and not making an attempt to get yourself on the field. Consequently, that sets you back each year."
Snyder wasn't done: "I encourage each and every one of them to come in and compete to get on the field. I could not tell whether last year I knew Tre Walker or Ty Zimmerman were going to be as successful on the field as they were. The only way to find out is they prepared themselves beginning at this point in the season, and then competed at the highest level that they are capable of. Do that, and between now and August, we'll find out."
Filling a significant void on defense are a total of eight defensive tackles/defensive ends. Of those, two come from the junior college ranks in Vaikalafi Lutui (6-2, 280, Mount SAC) and Meshak Williams (6-4, 235, Hutchinson CC).
Of Lutui, Snyder said, "I like his toughness and his ability to play the position with aggressiveness. How that is going to fit here? I do not know. I have my hopes, but we will just have to wait and see."
From the prep ranks is Ian Seau, a 6-4, 240-pound produce of Carlsbad, Calif. He is ranked as the No. 57 strong-side defensive end in the nation.
"He's tough, plays the game hard and likes the game," said Snyder. "He strikes a blow and is an aggressive young player."
Overall, Snyder said, "All will have to make the transition from high school or a two-year institution to a four-year institution. All those things take time."
Speaking of striking a blow, that's what K-State hopes to have in linebacker Arthur Brown, a prep graduate of Wichita East and a transfer from the Miami Hurricane program where he played in 2008 and 2009.
"He is a talented young guy with instincts, which you need at the position he plays," said Snyder. "He is going to be a good player for us."
K-State's secondary was enhanced with the arrival of three junior college cornerbacks in Allen Chapman (5-11, 180, City College of San Francisco), Kip Daily, 6-0, 181, Blinn College), and Nigel Malone (5-10, 185, City of San Francisco), plus Tanner Burns, a transfer from San Jose State.
Of the improvement that needs to be made on defense, Snyder said, "We have a variety of things we can work on. Yes, it's recruiting to a certain degree if the kids you recruited can make you better, but it can also include schematics, personnel, who has speed and doesn't (have speed), and the depth you have at the various positions.
"We did get a little bit quicker, but I can't tell you how they're going to compare (to past classes)," said Snyder.
SCOUT.COM RANKS THE BIG 12 (10) OF 2011:
No. 4 Texas, No. 15 Oklahoma, No. 18 Texas Tech, No. 20 Oklahoma State, No. 30 Texas A&M, No. 38 Kansas, No. 47 Missouri, No. 50 Baylor, No. 64 Kansas State, No. 72 Iowa State.
FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY:
This cast of 32 players come from 10 states, plus Washington D.C. Seven are Kansas products, seven from Texas, five from Oklahoma, four from California, three from Georgia, and one each from D.C., Utah, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana and New York.