Kip making plays on the Daily for K-State
By ARNE GREEN
Special to The Telegram
MANHATTAN — One play put Kip Daily on the Kansas State map.
The journey to get there was quite a bit longer.
But when he returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown on K-State's first defensive series last Saturday against Massachusetts, Daily showed everyone what his teammates already knew: that he was ready to be a key contributor to the Wildcats' rebuilt defense.
"It gave me a lot of confidence," Daily, a senior cornerback, said of his first career pick, which he followed up with a second in the third quarter of the Wildcats' 37-7 victory. "But in the first two games I saw the things that I did right and wrong, so I had corrected those things.
"So leading up to the game I had been building up my confidence."
Daily, who transferred to K-State two years ago from Blinn (Texas) Community College, still is listed as a backup on K-State's depth chart, but has started all three games at corner. He shares the position with fellow senior Dorrian Roberts when the Wildcats go with five defensive backs, but started ahead of him in the season opener.
He proved himself to be a sure tackler in the first two games, recording eight stops in a 24-21 loss to North Dakota State and five the following week when the Wildcats knocked off Louisiana, 48-27.
But the two interceptions against UMass not only got him noticed by Wildcat fans, but also translated into a Big 12 defensive player of the week honor.
"It's huge," safety Ty Zimmerman, a fourth-year starter in the secondary, said of Daily's breakout performance. "He's one of my best friends off the field and I really respect him, how he goes about his business every day and how much he works.
"He's really done a great job just getting himself in that starting position, holding himself accountable to work on things he needs to work on each week. He had a great game (Saturday) and I couldn't be happier for him."
Daily, who redshirted in 2011 and played sparingly in six games as a backup last year, said the onus is on him now to back up the UMass performance.
"If felt good," he said of the player of the week recognition. "It was a first for me, but I need to keep on working hard and try to get back to that level.
"I was excited about it, but I'm more excited about getting back to work."
The Wildcats face their first road text this Saturday when they travel to Austin, Texas, for their Big 12 opener against Texas. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Texas Memorial Stadium.
"It excites me a lot because my family is going to be able to come out," said Daily, who grew up in College Station, Texas. "I haven't seen my family in a few months so I'm excited for them to come out and be able to see my play.
"The last time they saw me play was (last year's) Baylor game and I didn't play too much."
Daily figured this year that he had a chance to contribute with the departure of starting cornerbacks Nigel Malone and Allen Chapman. He also knew the comparisons would be inevitable, not only for him but for an entire defense that replaced nine starters.
"I wasn't too much worried about filling their shoes," Daily said. "I'm just worried about playing my game and the role that I'm put in now."
Last week's game certainly helped reaffirm that he was ready, but that never really was an issue.
"It did help my confidence a little bit, but I felt like I was building my confidence up with my recent play in my games," he said. "I hadn't done anything spectacular, but I've been studying film all through the spring and I've been ready to play (for a while)."