The great UCLA Bruin Basketball coach John Wooden once said : "Sports do not build character. They reveal it." And so Offensive Lineman Tomasi Mariner, from Washburn Rural High School will sign his letter of intent today quietly for the most part, revealing his true character for all in Wildcat Nation to examine. There are probably more talented players who will sign their letters of intent this morning and there will certainly be more publicized signing day ceremonies but perhaps not more important ceremonies then the one Mariner will attend.
This is a success story about loyalty, hard-work and the type of player you want in your program. Tomasi bleeds purple and white, his grandfather played for the Cats in the early 50's and he was raised as a fan of Kansas State since he was a child. When Coach Prince was the Head Coach, Mariner was offered a scholarship on the defensive side of the ball, as a nose guard. And when Coach Snyder came back to Manhattan to take over, he re-evaluated Tomasi Mariner and about two and a half weeks ago decided to re-offer the loyal Mariner a greyshirt.
"You are going to love this kid. This is the type of lineman that Coach Snyder used to have in his program. He is a hard worker and he is very coachable and he just wants to do well for you and will work his butt off. He is a big kid already but still has room to grow and we are happy he is going to Kansas State. I know he had a decision to make but he always grew up a fan of K-State and that is where he wanted to be," his Head Coach Derick Hammes told KStateFans.
Originally recruited by Coach Prince to play the nose guard position, Mariner will most likely play on the Offensive Line for the Cats and is the type of player you want to build your program around according to his High School Coach.
"This is a loyal kid. When I took over the program 3 years ago, there was a lot of work to be done, He played for us every since he was a sophomore and more then anything, when times were hard, he stuck with us and he always did it the right way. He never wavered and he always came ready to learn and to work. He has good football ability but he is a kid that you want in your program. he is a kid that stands for doing things the right way and is very coachable. When things got hard around here, just more than anything he was there and doing it right and that says a lot about him as a person," said Head Coach Hammes.
With interest from Kansas, Rutgers and Ohio University, it was Kansas State that was his sole offer and it was always the Cats!
"He grew up such a big fan of Kansas State. His grandfather played there and I know it means a lot for him to play there too. But he had to think about it and make a decision. He was offered a greyshirt and he thought about the greyshirt and immediate playing time. He had to think about development and putting off immediate playing time in order to lift weights, add size and strength and be able to develop. He was offered under Coach Prince and his staff and when Coach Snyder came in they re-evaluated the entire (recruiting) board again and then decided who they were going to offer. Coach Joe Bob was already familiar with him from being at Kansas and Coach Lattimore was familiar with him too so they knew about him but coach Snyder wanted to re-evaluate everyone and then make offers. So about two and a half or three weeks ago they offered him the greyshirt and I would say it took maybe a week for him to think everything over after they offered him again and he committed to Coach Snyder."
A greyshirt offer is not for everyone. Today, many prospects do not want to put off immediate goals or put in the hard work that will eventually make them more successful down the road. What is impressive about Tomasi Mariner is that all along he never once waivered in regards to where he wanted to play his college football- it was always Kansas State and when the opportunity availed itself, Tomasi put off immediate goals for the good of the team and longer term goals.
"Tomasi plans to go through summer drills, they (NCAA) allow him to participate in summer drills and although I know he would like to play right now but he will defer the scholarship that first semester he is on campus as a part-time student and then he will join the team after that. "
At 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds with room to grow and a frame that will support more weight, where Mariner will play is open for discussion.
"K-State has left it open whether he will play on offense or defense, I know coach Prince wanted him at nose(guard) because they were playing the 3-4 (defense) but I think Coach Snyder wants him at (offensive) guard. I think that is probably where he will end up. He is pretty big already and is just going to get bigger and develop more."
Squared away in the classroom already, Tomasi already has his ACT score and just needs to finish up his last semester in High School and in the classroom and he will be ready to go.
Last year, an independent company came in and weighed all the Washburn football players and then put them through drills and for speed and dexterity.
"This was last spring but Tomasi was 76" inches tall and had an electronic 40 time of 5.16. He benched 225 pounds over 20 times and had a power clean of 305 (lbs). His Squat was 500 pounds and he is just going to get better. This was last spring so those have changed some but that is what he graded out."
For the guy that bleeds Purple and White, there is an official signing ceremony at 2:30 pm at his High School. But according to Head Coach Hammes, Tomasi Mariner's Letter of Intent will be signed and sent via fax as soon as is possible in the morning.
"Tomasi wants to sign and have his papers sent as soon as they open. So we will have his papers over to first thing in the morning, we will fax them over at 8 am."
Great character and a Hard worker that exceeds expectations every opportunity he has - Welcome to Manhattan Tomasi.