K-State QB battle over early in spring

4/9/2014

Daniel Sams to move to receiver after losing battle to Waters.

Daniel Sams to move to receiver after losing battle to Waters.

By ARNE GREEN

Special to The Telegram

The quarterback competition that kept Kansas State fans in suspense and opposing offenses on their toes all last year is over - at least for now.

K-State coach Bill Snyder confirmed Tuesday that Daniel Sams, reduced to a backup role behind Jake Waters late in the season, has moved to wide receiver this spring.

"Right now I told Daniel if he wants to try his hand at wide receiver that I'd certainly give him the opportunity," Snyder said during his first spring press conference. "He's working at the wide receiver position and he's growing."

Waters, a former junior college All-American, started all year but frequently split time with Sams before emerging as the clear-cut No. 1 the last three games. So Sams, a junior-to-be, broached the subject of a position change with Snyder in hopes to getting on the field.

"The dialogue I had with Daniel was, 'I want you to be happy and see you on the field,' because he approached me about playing as a wide receiver," Snyder said. "I made my recommendations to him, but I said I would abide by his (decision) and give him a chance, and he wanted to try it there."

So far, Sams has strictly worked at wide receiver, leaving sophomore Joe Heubner and redshirt freshman Jesse Ertz to back up Waters.

"That doesn't eliminate anything," Snyder said. "It's just if he wants to play (receiver), then I want to give him the best opportunity, and the best opportunity is not to spread him too thin."

The reviews, after four practices, have been positive.

"I think he's got a few tips and little tricks to learn, but he's a tremendous playmaker," said sophomore Deante Burton, who is competing with Sams for the third receiver spot alongside returning starters Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton. "His athleticism is some of the best in the country.

"It's not as natural as quarterback, but I think it's something that's coming along."

Sams has the size at 6-foot-2, 207 pounds to be a physical receiver, and showed his quickness as a runner last year. Plus, he knows the offense from playing quarterback.

So far he is making a believer of Snyder and receivers coach Andre Coleman.

"From a learning standpoint he understands all the schemes, so he knew the assignments for wide receivers," Snyder said. "What he didn't understand was the execution and how to go about doing it, and that's what he's learning right now.

"It's a work in progress, but we've given him the opportunity and he's made some headway, he really has. I think he feels and coach (Andre) Coleman and I feel that he can be competitive in that arena."

Sams completed 73 percent of his passes last year for 452 yards and four touchdowns, but was most effective running the ball, gaining 807 yards and averaging 5.3 yards per carry.

"He's got to be on the field, but he's got to find a spot," Snyder said.

Mr. Robinson

Senior DeMarcus Robinson, a career backup, tops the depth chart at running back heading into the spring, but Snyder said he has stiff competition from sophomores Charles Jones and Jarvis Leverett to replace three-year starter John Hubert.

"I would not pick one right now," Snyder said. "D-Mac is at the top of the chart because he came out of that position from the fall, but I think we see some promise in the two younger guys.

"It really will be a genuine competition between the three."

Bowl momentum

Snyder has stressed the importance of carrying over momentum from his team's 31-14 victory over Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

The results, he said, have been mixed.

"I really wanted to start right where we finished and build off of that," Snyder said. "I don't think we did that.

"It doesn't mean that we went dramatically downhill. It just means that we did not have the progress that I would have liked for us to."

Worth noting

++Junior kicker Jack Cantele, who was sidelined with an injury for the last three games after booting a game-winning field goal against TCU on Nov. 16, pronounced himself fit and ready to go Tuesday.

++Snyder wore a boot on his left foot Tuesday after spending time on crutches following offseason foot surgery.

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