Snyder names Waters starting QB for Wildcats
By ARNE GREEN
Special to The Telegram
Kansas State's quarterback competition is over, at least for the time being.
Citing consistency as the deciding factor, Bill Snyder announced Monday during the Big 12 coaches teleconference that junior college transfer Jake Waters will be the Wildcats' starter in the season opener against North Dakota State.
Waters edged sophomore Daniel Sams, last year's backup to Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein, though Snyder said he expects both to play when the Bison visit Snyder Family Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
"Jake just displayed more consistency in all the areas that we've talked about in terms of managing the offense and being able to provide the kind of leadership that we want as well as the actual physical aspect of it," Snyder said. "It's mental, emotional and physical and there was more consistency in his presence during the 24 or 25 practices that we've had.
"What slowed Daniel down a little bit was he missed some practice opportunities during the latter stages of our preseason work."
Sams reportedly was injured during part of preseason camp but did participate in the Wildcats' public practice Aug. 17. Snyder did not rule out the possibility that Sams could win the job in the future.
"That's totally in his hands," Snyder said. "The opportunity will be there, yes, most certainly."
Waters, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior from Council Bluffs, Iowa, led Iowa Western Community College to a national championship last year while completing an NJCAA single-season record 73.3 percent of his passes for 3,501 yards and 39 touchdowns. The 6-2, 207-pound Sams was 6-of-8 passing and rushed for 235 yards and three touchdowns in limited playing time last season.
Waters, who enrolled at K-State in January and participated in spring practice, made a good first impression with his work ethic and attention to detail.
"Certainly he's invested the time and the effort, and we were fortunate to have him at mid-term last year so he got to go through the out-of-season program, learn a little about what our work habits are and invest in some study time as it relates to our offense," Snyder said. "He's a very conscientious young guy in that respect.
"He invested himself and he truly worked at it extremely hard and did above and beyond what was asked of him."
That resonated with teammates as well.
"He gained their respect, which you can't lead if you don't have the respect of others," Snyder said. "He gained the respect of his teammates by his consistent approach to the game, but spending so much time working at it, so much time trying to develop the mental aspect of the game.
"I have to say, too, that I have a great appreciation for Daniel, because though they were in such a heavy competition for the position, Daniel was a great asset to Jake and still is, and works diligently with him to try to help him gain a knowledge of the entirety of the system."
Snyder would not speculate on how much action Sams will see Friday against North Dakota State, the overwhelming preseason favorite to win a third straight NCAA Football Championship Subdivision title.
"I could answer that same question the same about any player in the program," he said. "You don't know how many snaps they'll take.
"It could be five, it could be 50, I just don't know."
Though Waters is considered the more accomplished passer of the two quarterbacks and Sams the explosive runner, Snyder refused to pigeonhole either one.
"What we're looking for is a complete quarterback — one that can invest himself in the running game, one that can invest himself in the passing game," Snyder said. "And both of these guys can do that.
"It's not a matter of having two totally different skill sets."
In fact, Snyder predicted that the offense this season will look quite similar to last year's with bigger, more physical Klein under center.
"We have a pretty broad package, more than most probably, and try to fit it to the personnel that we have," he said. "And as it played out, there's not a significant difference in what we did and what we're doing."