For Ron Prince - it's Mission Accomplished!

Kansas State's first-year football coach announced a cast of 26 (plus one gray shirt) Wednesday afternoon as his first recruiting class as coach of the Wildcats.

With the roster including 16 from the high schools and 10 from the junior colleges, and with the list including 17 defensive players and nine on offense, Prince said, "When we first came here we talked about wanting to build a team that was fast, strong, tough and disciplined because that is the kind of team that helps you consistently compete for championships.

"We talked about having a team of people with integrity … sincerity, candor, truthfulness, but also a team where individuals have toughness. Not just physical toughness, but also competitive toughness in what some people might describe as mental toughness," Prince said. "And, we are looking for people who are achievement-oriented." All that, but with the ability to blaze through 40-yard dashes, and bench press small buildings, which Prince said was accomplished.

While the emphasis was on defense, the lone two 4-Star recruits were from the offensive side in quarterback Josh Freeman and running back James Johnson.

Of the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Freeman, a product of Grandview High School in Missouri, Prince said, "What makes a quarterback a really special quarterback is that you have to have a young man that is not only a spatial thinker, but a sequential thinker, as well. We felt through our evaluations, that Josh was that kind of a quarterback."

On the field, Freeman, who had committed to Nebraska prior to the hiring of Prince, passed for over 7,000 yards in his prep career, which included 2,622 passing yards and 33 touchdowns in his senior season.

By most services, Freeman was a Top 10 quarterback and Top 100 overall recruit at the national level.

Freeman is currently enrolled at K-State, which Prince said can be bad and good. Bad in the sense that it interrupts the normal flow of an 18-year-old life, but good in that, "You can not imagine how much of an advantage it is being involved in spring ball, especially at that position. That's a position that is pretty sophisticated. It's like learning a new language."

Johnson is a 5-11, 200-pound running back from Blinn (Texas) College, where he rushed for 2,38 yards and 33 touchdowns during his two-year career. This past year, he earned honorable mention all-America honors and was ranked as high as the No. 10 overall recruit out of two-year colleges.

A native of Port Arthur, Texas, the Johnson family was hit by Hurricane Rita a year ago, which earned the admiration of Prince.

"That experience tells me that kid is going to do well," Prince said of the 4-Star running back. "There are a couple reasons that young people do well in life. Sometimes it's out if inspiration, and sometimes it's out of desperation. I really admire that young man."

Of the defensive signees, there were eight defensive backs, four tackles, three linebackers and two ends, while the offensive breakdown included four running backs, two linemen and one each in the areas of quarterbacks, tight ends and wide receivers.

''The analogy I like to make is if you go to the beach you need only so many blue blazers," Prince said. "You need sandals, a couple pair of shorts and other things, but the goal of the head coach is to budget players for all the coaches to work with. Then it's up to the position coaches to put together a plan to magnify the positives, and limit the potential negatives in other areas. You can't just keep adding players to positions where you already have players. You have to have some flexibility, but with an 85 scholarship limit, you have to keep asking yourself, 'Who's going to punt the ball? Who's going to block?' ''

Prince said the current roster was top-heavy on the offensive side, which was the reason the staff focused on defensive players with this first class.

''If you continue to add players where you already have them, eventually it will become a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. You have to have a balance,'' Prince said.

Prince did address the unusually large number of defensive backs by saying it was a roster need, but also due to the complexities of offenses in the Big 12.

"It's very clear to me when you analyze the current landscape of college football, there are a lot of spread offenses where the quarterback is the featured player, and you're in a situation of facing three, four or sometimes five wide receivers," Prince said. "From my vantage point, I felt like we needed numbers in that area. Particularly when you look at some of the teams that we will face in our own division. The landscape of college football is becoming a much more wide open game as opposed to a between-the-tackles game." With the defensive back position, and at all spots, Prince said K-State was looking for "functional speed." He explained, "When you play in the Big 12, you better be able to play fast through November. If you can maintain a functional speed, you don't have any limitations on scheme and strategies. It gives you a chance in every ballgame."

Notes

• Early commitment Michael Pooschke from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M has reportedly not made his grades and will not enroll at KSU until the fall semester.
• Expected to join the Wildcats as Gray Shirts will be quarterback Carson Coffman from Peculiar, Mo., Jerome Jackson, a defensive back from Kansas City, Mo., and Courtney Greer, a running back from Midland, Texas.


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