Prince Opens Spring Practice

Kansas State will stage the first of 14 spring ball workouts on Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium with the high hopes of improving on last year's 5-7 record. The Wildcats return 20 players who have started at least one game, and will field a spring roster of 21 seniors, 20 juniors, 13 sophomores and 11 freshmen. The annual Purple-White game will take place on April 19.

Kansas State football coach Ron Prince greeted the media Thursday with a "Happy New Year everybody," in an apparent attempt to make the 5-7 season of 2007 a year of the past.

Giving credit to strength and conditioning coach Mike Kent, Prince said, "The team is in great condition and state of mind that they're in. After last year, he captured the imagination and the hearts of these kids to try to really give them a sense of what a team is supposed to be like, and that it's in their power to move forward and make the team whatever they'd like to make it."

Prince went on to say that "… none of the things that were positive for us a year ago will cause us to win in the future, and none of those things that were less than positive will prohibit us from having anything positive in the future. It's a matter of what we put together now."

So starting Saturday with the first of 14 spring workouts, the Wildcat coach said that the Wildcats would take the first step to being "reborn" and a new "DNA" found.

Prince indicated that the primary focus would be to solidify the middle of K-State's defensive unit – from defensive tackle, to inside linebacker, to safety.

"We didn't have a lot of plays at the corners or outside linebacker fall apart for us, but it was up the middle," said Prince. "If we don't improve up the middle, nothing will change."

Defensively, K-State needs plenty to change as it allowed 45, 49, 73 and 31 points in its last four games.

Prince listed Gary Chandler, Chris Carney, Courtney Herndon, Antwon Moore, plus newcomer Dahrnaz Tigner as safety candidates; John Houlik, and Reggie Walker, plus rookies Ulla Pomele and Hansen Sekona as inside linebacker prospects; and at tackle, Xzavier Stewart and Brandon Balkcom.

The biggest concern defensively will be the end opposite Ian Campbell. Prince listed the names of Chidumbamu Abama, Raphael Guidry, Jack Hayes and Tony Gillespie.

As for the primary mission of the spring season, that will conclude with the annual Purple-White game on April 19, Prince said, "It's to determine the attitude of the team and the ambition of the team. It's something that the players have to make that decision on exactly what kind of ambitions and goals that we have."

ACADEMIC ISSUES: Prince announced that wide receiver Deon Murphy, linebacker Ross Diehl, linebacker Chris Patterson and offensive lineman Eric Benoit would miss spring ball for academic reasons.

"I expect them to return, but they have a considerable amount of work to do, and I want them to focus on those things," Prince said. "You come to college to become an educated man. I made that promise to them, and to their parents.

"I don't expect them to enjoy calculus over football, but if you really love football, it's mandatory you do well in calculus," Prince said.

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