Koenning Awaiting Stars To Emerge

K-State's expected to line up in a 4-2-5 defensive look in 2009, which would lead one to think that the Wildcats have a surplus of defensive backs. Perhaps, but co-coordinator and secondary coach Vic Koenning refuses to even hint as to who the starters may be.

Vic Koenning gives a simply, "I don't know." Word has it that Kansas State will line up in a 4-2-5 scheme this fall, but of those five-deep, the Wildcat secondary coach and co-defensive coordinator says, "As a whole, we don't have anyone out there way ahead of the next guy. We just don't have positions that are locked down. In some spots we even have three competing for one spot."

Oh, there are familiar names - Joshua Moore (5-11, 184, Jr), Billy McClellan (5-8, 170, Sr), Otis Johnson (5-10, 175, Sr), Tysyn Hartman (6-3, 207, Soph), Courtney Herndon (6-0, 211, Sr) and Chris Carney (6-1, 190, Sr) - but Koenning repeats, "Right now, the smartest thing to do is stay quiet until coach (Bill Snyder) posts the depth chart.

Overall, Koenning said, "We're trying to find our best 11 guys who will be trying to play like 12."

But overall, he adds, it comes down to "... playing fast and making sure tackles."

If there is a lock, it is Moore at one corner. He led K-State's team in tackles last year with 76, plus was high in passes broken up with 12 and interceptions with three from his cornerback position.

Moore played in 13 games in 2006, was sidelined in 2007, and returned to the field last year when he earned honorable mention all-Big 12 honors.

Competing on the opposite side are McClellan and Johnson, plus newcomer Thomas Ferguson (6-1, 205, Fr) and Blinn Community College transfer Terrance Sweeney (5-9, 170, Jr).

Top names at the collective safety spots will be returnees Herndon, Carney and Hartman, plus Independence Community College transfer Emmanuel Lamur (6-4, 214, Jr).

Herndon was third in stops with 61, plus recorded three turnovers with two picks and one fumble recovery. He has played in 30 KSU games with 90 tackles, which includes eight for negative yards.

Carney was fifth in arrests with 53 and Hartman seventh with 49. The cousin of former Wildcat Dyshod Carter, Carney has played in KSU's last 25 games at free safety totaling 122 tackles. Twice he's had 13-tackle games, which includes the Fresno State game of 2008 when he had seven solo stops.

Hartman came to K-State as a quarterback, but switched sides of the ball last year playing all 12 games, which included eight as a starter at safety. His career game came against Nebraska with nine tackles.

"We do have some experience and that's always a plus," said Koenning, a former Wildcat from 1979-82. "With coach Snyder, it's all about improving. I know that we're not going to be as good tomorrow as we are going to be the next day. Every day we practice, and every game that we play, we'll constantly improve."

Improve to the point, Koenning hopes, that will include a defense that will feature star-type big-play defensive players.

"We're trying to establish impact players. We say steel sharpens steel," Koenning said. "We want sharp competition. As a whole group, we just don't have anyone that's clearly so far ahead of the next guy that he has a position locked down."

Making an analogy, Koenning said, "I kind of got into NASCAR a few years ago. These new cars running now, when they get out in clean air, they tend to run away from the pack. We want guys to go take a position and make it be their position and nobody can get close to them. Right now, we haven't had enough guys say, 'I'm the guy' and distance themselves. We've got good competition at a lot of positions."


Chris Carney, 6-1, 290, Sr, Denver, Colo.
Logan Dold, 6-0, 207, Soph, Garden Plain, Kan.
Thomas Ferguson, 6-1, 205, Fr, Grand Prairie, Texas
Tysyn Hartman, 6-3, 207, Soph, Wichita, Kan.
Courtney Herndon, 6-0, 211, Sr, Dallas, Texas
Otis Johnson, 5-10, 175, Sr, Houston, Texas
Billy McClellan, 5-8, 170, Sr, Torrance, Calif.
Joshua Moore, 5-11, 184, Jr, Pompano Beach, Fla.
Terrance Sweeney, 5-9, 170, Jr, Houston, Texas
Dahrnaz Tigner, 6-2, 223, Jr, Pompano Beach, Fla.

Purple Pride Top Stories