Campus Insider

Walk-ons form integral part of Wildcat roster

K-State's recruiting classes are never rated among the top five in the nation.

The Wildcats don't have an unlimited budget like Mack Brown at Texas. They don't have the talent-rich state where blue chip prospects flow like oil. They don't have the top high school individuals every year, instead relying on walk-ons like Jeff Schwinn to lead a top-10 program.

Coach Bill Snyder is never considered one of the nation's best recruiters, either, because he doesn't bring in those highly-touted stars. They do get their share, but perhaps more than any other program, the meat and potatos of the Wildcat roster are walk-ons, junior college transfers and players that typically flew under the recruiting radar in high school.

Snyder will admit it, too.

"There might be some shortcomings that probably wouldn't put them as high on a list," Snyder said. "If there's a board with 45 people at wide receiver, a bunch of people at tackle, they're ranked in order. You can offer so many scholarships, but there's still some youngsters there that are good people."

K-State has had perhaps more success than anybody in having walk-ons make a difference. Players like Mitch Running, who went from being a non-scholarship player to the sixth-leading receiver in K-State history. That trend was a holdover from the Iowa Hawkeye football program engineered by Hayden Fry and orchestrated by Snyder in the 1980s.

Regardless, Snyder has had plenty of players work their way toward achieving scholarship status, including Schwinn. The McLouth, Kan. native was put on scholarship last year after working his way up the depth chart.

"It's difficult in the state of Kansas," Snyder said, "because there are so many colleges. It's difficult to get high-quality walk-ons into your program. Youngsters we seek out we know are quality players, and we look at their attributes exactly the same as youngsters we might offer a scholarship to."

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