Who's the next defensive star?

K-State defensive coordinator Bob Elliott discusses who could be the next star, playmaker in the making on the Wildcat defense. With seven starters gone from 2003, there will be plenty of chances for someone to step up.

There will be many new faces on the Kansas State defense this fall, but of course, that happens when a team is trying to replace seven starters.

But Wildcat defensive coordinator Bob Elliott said there are plenty of future stars on this season's team—despite their lack of experience as starters.

For instance, at linebacker K-State will look to Matt Butler and Marvin Simmons this season to fill the spots vacated by Josh Buhl and Bryan Hickman. Ted Sims returns to a linebacker position he started at last season, but hopes to be far improved as a junior.

Elliott said in addition to Butler and Simmons, there are a handful of others at linebacker than can expect to see some significant time as well.

"Anyone of those guys," Elliott said as to who could be a star. "And I'm not just talking about those three guys we have lining up first right now. I'm talking about guys like Mo Thurmond, and Brandon Archer, who is ready to go now too, and Kyle Suttles who has waited for his time. There are a lot of guys in the group who could surprise you."

And though he's not a new face around Manhattan, defensive tackle Andrew Bulman might as well be to the football field. After sitting out all of last season with an injury, the 6-foot-3 285 pound senior will be counted on to start this season.

Bulman played in nine games and had 12 tackles his junior season off the bench.

"You look at Andy Bulman and we need him to play for us," Elliott said. "He's always been hurt, but we need him to have a great senior year. He's a very important part of the system this year."

Also on the defensive line, senior end Kevin Huntley is hoping to return to form of a year ago—at least the form he was in during the first five games of last year when he recorded five sacks. After such a fast start to 2003, Huntley's play dropped off dramatically and so did his playing time and starting job. He's said he's more prepared now though.

"I want to have a better season than I had last season," said Huntley, who had 25 tackles and six sacks last season. "And I would love to get the start I had last season, but this time I need to carry it into the whole season. I don't want to have just a couple or four games that I did well in. I just want to be one of those guys the rest of the defense looks to in critical moments—where they know I'm ready all the time."

As for Elliott—it's time Huntley stepped up because "he may be that guy for us, that we're looking for.

"He is different and he knows he has to be different," Elliott added. "A year ago it was easy for him to back off on a play because he had (Thomas) Houchin and (Andrew) Shull there to pick us up. He only had to play 15, 20, 30 snaps. Now we're expecting him to take 60 or 70 snaps. He was, like a lot of the guys we had in those roles, surviving. But now he's made that commitment is seems to be a dominator and not the survivor. Your first year out there you're trying not to mess up; just survive on the field and learn. Now though, like so many other guys, he's in a position where we are expecting him to be a playmaker."


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