Last year the K-State Offense had the luxury of lining up and playing smash mouth football behind a seasoned offensive line and a stellar running back in Daniel Thomas. This year's version of the Wildcat Offense has a help wanted sign out with the need for three new Linemen to step up and replenish the losses.
Who those starting three will be is anyone's immediate guess but there is talent on campus and there are JUCO transfers that seem ready for the opportunity. We are going to take a look at the Left Guard position where Zach Kendall has since moved on and possibly replacement Nick Puetz could take over.
Nick is a homegrown product who played his High School football at Southeast of Saline High School before going on to play at Coffeyville CC. His resume at Coffeyville reads honorable mention All-Jayhawk Conference as a freshman and awards under his belt such as the Wayne Memorial Award and Pete Peltzer Outstanding Offensive Lineman Award at Coffeyville. All while earning Academic All-Conference honors and then be named a second team All-Jayhawk Conference selection in 2009.
Transferring from Coffeyville, Nick then went to Wyoming where he earned the starting nod at Left Guard for the Cowboys and locked down the position during Spring Football practices in March of 2010. Citing personal reasons, Nick announced he was leaving the Wyoming football team in April of 2010.
So after a rather circuitous route, Nick Puetz returns back to the state of Kansas and will vie for the starting spot at the vacated Left Guard position for our K-State Wildcats.
The Reason Why
At 6-foot-4 and 307 pounds Puetz easily has the size to play Left Guard. Not tall enough for tackle, Puetz is well suited for guard play. He has two solid years of college football and experience under his belt and after leaving Coffeyville, Nick was able to go to Wyoming and earn the Left Guard position for the Cowboys after only going through Spring Football with them. He came with some accolades to his name after being named a second team All Jayhawk selection. K-State is going to be a rushing team first under Head Coach Bill Snyder and at 307 pounds, Puetz has both the size and strength and has excelled at run blocking throughout his career.
With the Wildcat offense looking for a suitable replacement to give them the ability to move the ball on the ground, Puetz at the very least should fit into the Wildcat O-Line rotation early and afford the offensive line another big body up front. Puetz has the talent however to be more than just a big ugly up front, he is very strong at the point of attack and uses his size to his benefit. In the Big 12, there are a lot of Linemen that fit this bill but Nick has already shown that he has the skill set to earn a starting gig at the D1 College level. He should be able to compete for the starting position immediately and give the coaching staff options to move around other linemen to come up with the best five Offensive Linemen.
The Reason Why not
Nick is not the only JUCO O-Lineman with college level experience and talent. Tomasi Mariner is another JUCO transfer that signed with K-State and is an absolute mauler in the running game and could land the starting position at Left Guard. Also, the Cowboy offense is not a dominant running team and Nick has not yet seen the type of defenses that he will face in the Big 12 yet. There are great running stopping defensive linemen up and down the Big 12 and the brand of football is very physical. There is going to be an adjustment period for Puetz where he gets used to the bigger and faster linemen he will face.
Fall Practices should be a very good indicator quickly where his development is and where he needs to be to earn the starting position. Puetz is not going to just be able to line up and use his strength and size to his advantage to push people out of the way. Time and Fall Practices will tell but Puetz will be in the competition from Day 1.