The regular season has been completed, and so has the bowl season, so up next for Kansas State's football coaches is the recruiting season, while the players have started their off-season conditioning program.
K-State co-offensive coordinator Del Miller gave a "We're in pretty good shape," answer when it comes to filling gaps on the offensive side.
"We need to get a backup for Collin (Klein) at quarterback and we have a couple holes to fill on the offensive line," said the Wildcat passing game coordinator. "But we're in pretty good shape with our receivers, our tight ends are back and we have running backs coming back."
Co-coordinator Dana Dimel agreed with Miller, but added, "Those offensive linemen we're losing were three very intelligent players, which sometimes goes unnoticed."
That trio included Clyde Aufner and Zach Hanson at tackles, plus Colten Freeze at guard. Manase Foketi has petitioned to the NCAA for a medical redshirt and could return to his starting left tackle position in 2012, while during the bowl preparation weeks coach Bill Snyder mentioned the names of Boston Stiverson, Cody Whitehair and Drew Liddle as candidates to fill the vacancies on the offensive line.
Already enrolled at K-State is Tay Bender, a 6-2, 215-pound quarterback out of Lincoln (Neb.) Southwest High School.
"He's an athletic kid with a good strong arm," said Dimel. "He fits the mold of what we want in a quarterback."
Bender has been reportedly clocked in the low 4.5s in the 40, and 10.8 in the 100, plus has a reported vertical leap of 40 inches. As a kicker, he's been true on a pair of 52-yarders. Bender committed to the Wildcats back in March and graduated from Lincoln Southwest High School at the semester break, which has allowed him to take part in KSU's off-season conditioning and its 2012 spring camp.
Southwest coach Mark King said of Bender, "Athletically, he's there. You could put him in a gymnasium with every Division I quarterback and he'd stand out."
On choosing K-State, Bender said earlier this year, "It's a dream to be able to sit in coach (Bill) Snyder's office and talk to him about football. K-State fits me. I could listen to him talk all day and not get bored."
Also contending to be Klein's backup in 2012 will be Daniel Sams, who was redshirted this past season as a freshman.
Dimel admitted that Angel Pease "… should have gotten more touches" at running back this past year. Pease will return as a senior, along with 2011 sophomore starter John Hubert, who flirted with a 1,000-yard rushing year, plus Snyder has said Demarcus Robinson continues to improve at the position.
At receiver, Chris Harper and Broderick Smith return as seniors, Tramaine Thompson and Torell Miller are back as juniors, while Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton will be sophomores. Also returning to try to save their starting positions will be B.J. Finner (center) and Nick Puetz (guard) on the offensive line; Travis Tannahill and Andre McDonald at tight end, Braden Wilson at fullback, and Klein at quarterback.
On defense, Ray Kibble (NT), Raphael Guidry (DT) and Jordan Voelker (DE) were senior starters on the line at the Cotton Bowl, while Emmanuel Lamur and Tysyn Hartman completed their careers at linebacker and safety, respectively. Snyder has mentioned the names of Dorian Roberts and Kip Daily as possible contributors in the secondary, plus Laton Dowling on the defensive line.
Returning starters trying to hold their positions will be Adam Davis and Meshak Williams at end, Vai Lutui at tackle, linebackers Arthur Brown and Tre Walker, plus Ty Zimmerman at safety, and cornerbacks Nigel Malone and Allen Chapman at cornerback.
The official national letter of intent signing day is Feb. 1.