Safety Intensive - Cats Load up on Defense

From the outside looking in it was easy to see Head Coach Bill Snyder targeted safeties for this recruiting class and loaded up at the position - signing seven DB's to this class. Coach Snyder is building from the back tothe front as the defense rebuilds and goes after SPEED.

The Bill Snyder coaching staff is starting at the back end and working forward. Of the 13 players signed on defense, seven played one of the defensive back positions.

Defensive backs aplenty.

No one position on the field had the attention of the new Bill Snyder coaching staff more than the secondary when it came to the 2009 recruiting class.

A total of seven safeties/cornerbacks were signed out of the 13 players signed to play on the defensive side of the ball.

"The problem is, we're a senior-laden football team," Snyder said. "If you look at all the guys who have one year of eligibility remaining, there's a ton of them. So many of them are in the defensive secondary, so that's why we put more emphasis on that position."

The fact is, K-State does have 11 defensive backs on its 2008 roster that would be seniors-to-be.

That listing included Blair Irvin, Chris Carney, Courtney Herndon and Otis Johnson, who all appeared on the Wildcats' two-deep look as 2009 seniors.

And that doesn't mention the names of Ray Cheatham and Andrew Erker, who were on the two-deep roster as 2008 seniors.

With that in mind, Snyder went with the quick fix of junior college players Troy Butler (6-1, 200) and Emmanuel Lamur (6-4, 214), plus those players that will have time to soak in the system before playing.

That list includes Joseph Bonugli (6-0, 192), Carlton Callender (6-1, 186), Thomas Ferguson (6-1, 205), Torell Miller (6-3, 200) and Courtney Thompson (6-0, 180).

"It's hard to determine who might step in and play right now," Snyder said. "Is there a need (secondary), yes, and some of these young men will be expected to fill that need. But that always remains to be seen."

With the freshmen, Snyder said, "You would always prefer to redshirt freshmen. It's just common sense that you would be better your fifth year in the program rather than the first year. That's a pretty easy answer."

As to exact positions in the secondary these players will play, or whether some would move up to an outside-linebacker, Snyder said, "I wouldn't see any immediate position changes. We need to see who can play the different positions and then make some decisions from there."

The rest of the defensive look includes junior college linebacker Kadero Terrell (6-2, 235), plus prepsters Clarence Bumpas (6-2, 218) and Blake Slaughter (6-0, 219) and three defensive linemen in Virginia transfer Jeffrey Fitzgerald (6-4, 280), junior college transfer Grant Valentine (6-3, 240) and prepster Meshak Williams (6-4, 225).

If one would point to a single player to have the quickest impact it would be Fitzgerald, who started 25 games while with the Cavaliers. As a sophomore in 2007, he was third on the team with 73 tackles, which included 11.5 tackles off a loss, plus seven sacks.

According to, Fitzgerald was the 41st best defensive end in the country out of Mermitage High School in Richmond, Va. also ranks Slaughter as the No. 22 middle linebacker in the country.

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