New Players Abound Line-up

New Head Coach in Bill Snyder, two new coordinators on each side of the ball, and, a multitude of first-time starters. That's what's in store for K-State fans Saturday when the Wildcats open with UMass. Here is what else you can expect to see....

On offense, it's RG Wade Weibert, QB Carson Coffman, RB Daniel Thomas and FB Braden Wilson. On the flip side, it's DT Jeffrey Fitzgerald, DE Kadero Terrell, LB Troy Butler and FS Emmanuel Lamur.

That's eight first-time starters for Kansas State Saturday when they hit the turf for a 6:10 p.m. kickoff against UMass.

"There are two ways to look at it with each case having its own merit," Snyder said. "In some cases, it means we're thin and don't have the quality we would like, while in other cases it means we have some young players performing very well."

Other new-names to grace K-State's two-deep chart include TE Travis Tannahill, QB Grant Gregory, FB Lucas Hamm, WR Tramaine Thompson, CB Stephen Harrison and CB David Garrett.

That's six more Wildcats who have no K-State experience.

Fitzgerald does have proven ability at the NCAA level as he was a unanimous freshman All-American at Virginia in 2006, plus played a total of 25 games for the Cavaliers.

Out of Richmond, Va., Fitzgerald rated as the 41st best defensive end in the country by

While also rehabbing from knee injuries last year, Fitzgerald said of his season of watching, "I saw the game from a different perspective. I saw what the coaches see. I think it helped me grow as a player."

The 23-year-old Gregory started his career at Indiana in 2004, but then transferred to South Florida in 2005. He played sparingly behind Matt Grothe, completing 10-of-20 passes for 104 yards last year.

"There was somewhat of a competition, but then I got hurt," Gregory said of his South Florida career. "In all honesty, he (Grothe) took the job and never looked back. It's hard to unseat a guy when he passes for 10,000 yards." Coming off the bench in a reserve role in the secondary, Garrett said of his job description, "I'm going to go as hard as I can every snap. I'm a very exciting player and I'm very enthusiastic. I can get the team going and I'm a very hard worker."

Now as Wildcats, Snyder said of the cast of newcomers, "Collectively, it's been just a matter of who they are competing against for a particular spot. It's no more complex than who is giving you the best performance." But the key is this.

"We must see continued improvement during the course of the year, and we must see continued competition for spots," Snyder said. 'If we don't get better, we'll be in serious trouble."

Listing two wide receivers and a fullback, K-State will start four seniors, five juniors, one sophomore and one freshman. On defense, it's four seniors, two juniors and five sophomores.

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