They Gotta Come Through

To complete a three-part series, here's a look at the biggest concern positions where newcomers must make a presence in 2008 for Kansas State to be successful. In this case, one area on defense and one in special teams play.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

Take the position lightly if you want, but Kansas State will miss few 2007 seniors like punter Tim Reyer.

Reyer, a former walk-on, has toed Kansas State's last 220 Wildcat punts, and for a four-year career, was an automatic 40-plus yard punter.

The candidates to replace Reyer are George Pierson from Tyler Community College in Texas, and sophomore D.J. Fulhage, the son of former four-year punter (1981-84) Scott Fulhage.

"We're charting every kick, every day and the best one will be our punter," said Jeff Rodgers, KSU's first-year special teams coordinator.

With the slight edge is Pierson, who is a native of Arlington, Va. He attended Hargrave Military Academy where he was ranked the No. 7 punter in the nation.

Last year at Tyler, he averaged 43.2 yards on 42 punts, but was primarily recruited by Division II schools.

It's a player a team hopes to use no more than three to five times per game, but also a player who can account for around 200 yards of field position.
Don't take the loss of Reyer lightly.

DEFENSE:

It's likely that two newcomers to Division I football will be in the three- to four-man rotation at cornerback.

While Joshua Moore returns with experience, stepping in from the junior college ranks will be 6-0, 180-pound Blair Irvin, and 5-8, 164 Billy McClellan.

Irvin is the oldest Wildcat at 25 as he played four seasons of minor league baseball in the Tampa Bay organization after graduating from Patterson (La.) High School. Irvin comes to K-State from Coffeyville Community College where he earned second-team all-Jayhawk Conference honors in 2007.

McClellan is a transfer from Harbor Community College after a prep career at North Torrance High in California.

"Billy has great feet. Having played at Harbor, he's played in a league that throws the ball and he's faced good people," said defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar. "He's a little more technically sound (than Irvin) just because Blair has been away from the game playing baseball."

Tibesar added of Irvin, "He's an exceptional athlete ... one of the faster players on our team. He was a part of returning kicks in junior college and is just a very explosive player who is willing to play physical, or as we say, put your face on somebody."

Overall, Tibesar said, "We're going to start the two best players whether they've been with us, or are coming from the junior college ranks." Moore missed the 2007 season due to academic reasons.

"Getting Josh back is huge for us," Tibesar said. "He has the chance to be one of the better players in the league if he takes care of all the things he needs to take care of."

The pure talent at the corner positions is evident, but three of K-State's best didn't play at the D-I level last year.


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