Bill Snyder says he thinks K-State's defense is "… making some headway. I think the effort is getting better and better. You find them around the ball more frequently than before. There is still a long ways to go, but I think that we are moving in the right direction."
Speaking of the collective defense, the K-State coach says, "As a group, we run better and I think we will be a bit more physical. I think we'll be better defending the pass because we'll be a little more athletic than we were."
That starts with a linebacking group that has added the talents of Arthur Brown, a transfer from the Miami Hurricanes, but also the move of Emmanuel Lamur from safety to linebacker, plus the return of Tre Walker, Blake Slaughter, Jarell Childs and Alex Hrebec, who is missing spring camp due to an injury.
Of the 6-1, 223-pound Brown, Slaughter said, "He has added athleticism. He is an extremely talented player. He is also quiet leader. He is just a great person to be around and a great addition to the defense."
Perhaps prepared to make as big of an impact as Brown to the middle of K-State's defense will be the 6-4, 215-pound Lamur.
"He gives us a physical presence and ability to run well and play with some range," said Snyder. "He just keeps getting better and better."
Hrebec ranked third on the team in tackles last year with 77, while Childs contributed 53, Slaughter 47, Walker 47 and Lamur 46.
Snyder also mentioned the name of Tate Snyder (5-11, 223, Fr) as one who was having a quality spring practice and how Slaughter was "… getting better and better and giving a consistent effort."
"It feels like we are getting more physical as the spring goes on," said Slaughter. "Recently, it seems like we have been striking people a lot better." Playing in front of those 'backers is a cast of defensive ends that includes Brandon Harold (6-5. 258, Jr) and Meshak Williams (6-4, 235), who are backed by Adam Davis (6-1, 253, Jr) and Jordan Voelker (6-3, 244, Jr).
Harold is trying to regain his freshman status when he earned freshman All-American honors with 45 tackles, two forced fumbles and one pass deflection. The East St. Louis product was injured in 2009, and came back to register 41 tackles last year.
"In terms of on the field, he has solidified what we knew that he was capable of doing. He has been a reasonable aggressive pass rusher and that continues to be present. He is a good effort player; when the ball is snapped he is going to play hard," said Snyder. "He probably needs to be a little more focused and disciplined to allow him not to make the mechanical mistakes that get him out of position, which happens from time to time because of his desire to make plays."
Of Williams, a transfer from Hutchinson Community College, Snyder said, "He's mistake prone, but you know he's going to get better. He has athletic ability and tries hard to learn. He's making headway and we anticipate that continuing."
And, the same is true with Davis, a transfer from Hutchinson Community College, and Voelker, a transfer from Butler County Community College.
"His (Davis) field time has been very limited, so you labor under the assumption that he will continue to improve as he gains a better understanding of the system," said Snyder. "Jordan has shown to be a very stable player."
Additional depth at end could from Kyle Klein, the brother of KSU quarterback Collin Klein, plus Laton Dowling (6-2, 245, Fr), who Snyder says "… will be part of the competition." Inside is a cast that starts with Ray Kibble (6-4, 296, Sr) and Raphael Guidry (6-4, 282, Sr), but also includes Payton Kirk (6-5, 262, Jr), Jordan Allred (6-2, 300, Soph) from the offensive line, and the possibility of moving Harold from end to tackle.
The last line of defense will include two Big 12 quality safeties in Tysyn Hartman (6-3, 206, Sr) and Ty Zimmerman (6-1, 203, Soph),, while the corners currently have Nigel Malone (5-10, 185, Jr) and David Garrett (5-8, 176, Sr). Last year, Hartman ranked second on the team with his 86 tackles, plus had two interceptions, while Zimmerman had 74 arrests with three picks.
Playing more of a strong safety/Bandit linebacker position last year, Garrett, affectionately known as "Rat" to his teammates, led the team in tackles with 92, and with a team-high of 15 stops for negative yards. A transfer from City College of San Francisco, Snyder said of Malone, "He's learning the system and getting better on a regular basis. He's a very competitive young guy. He's a pretty good technician who has been taught well. He's a fairly aggressive cornerback who is competitive for the thrown ball, and not afraid to tackle you."
Competing with Malone for the starting assignment is Randall Evans (6-11, 167, Fr) from Miami, Fla. Additional help is on its way with Allen Chapman, who was Malone's teammate at City College of San Francisco.