Homecoming: a time for parades, dances, parties and, most of all, football.
Yet while K-State's homecoming doesn't fall on a Saturday for another month, when the Wildcats host Baylor on Nov. 1, this weekend does mark a "homecoming" of sorts for several Wildcats.
The Cats will be headed to Austin, Texas this weekend for the Big 12 Conference clash that could go a long way toward deciding who faces off at Arrowhead in the Big 12 Conference Championship game come December.
But much more is at stake for Josh Buhl, Jeromey Clary, Bryan Hickman, Thomas Houchin, Nick Leckey, Ell Roberson and several other Wildcats. For them, this homecoming means walking into a Parthenon of Texas football -- Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium -- to face the Longhorns. All of them are Texas natives, growing up with stories of the heralded Horns and dreaming that, one day, they'd have the chance to walk out onto the field in burnt orange.
"It's just like me, from Kansas, playing a Kansas team," tackle Jermaine berry said. "I'll be more hyper than guys from other states. This is their hometown -- bragging rights for them. They'll take it more seriously."
For Roberson, it's also a return to action for the first time since leaving the McNeese State game with a fractured hand on Sept. 6. He has missed his last two starts against Massachusetts and Marshall.
"We had a talk (Monday) about getting back to K-State football," Roberson said. "Playing our game. We're in conference play and everybody knows it. We need to step up our game."
Expect nobody to step up their game more than Roberson, who said he has so much family invading Austin on Saturday that he isn't sure if he'll have enough tickets.
"They'll be standing outside the gates for me," he said.
For Roberson, the struggle won't be standing outside the gates -- rather, the struggle may be getting OUT of the gates. Spending the last three weeks going easy in practice could leave Roberson rusty when he makes his return. Roberson, however, said most of that is simply myth.
"I knew the situation I was in and I'd be back for this game," he said. "My mental focus has all been on Texas. Now I just have to be there for my team."
But that team will be wearing purple on Saturday, something Texas fans can only cringe at when thinking of the possibilities. The Baytown, Texas native was recruited by the Horns coming out of high school, but decided early that he was going to leave the Lone Star State.
"I wasn't really a fan of them too much," Roberson said. "They did recruit me a little bit, but I was stubborn in my ways and wanted to get out of Texas. You hear about Texas football all the time, and I just wanted to try something different."
Even Snyder, who coached at Austin (Texas) College from 1974-75 and North Texas from 1976-78, is excited about a return to the state. However, he said his excitement rests more with the players than a few short years in the late 1970s.
"I'd like to think you play this game, and all the rigors and preparation and time commitment, there has to be a reason for doing it," Snyder said. "I would think it's to be successful on Saturday afternoon. I'm hoping we are."
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