MANHATTAN (TNS) — Allen Lazard doesn't rank near the top of the Big 12 in any statistical categories, but Kansas State defensive backs talk about him as if he leads the way in catches and receiving yards.
"Going one on one against him is definitely going to be a challenge," junior K-State cornerback Duke Shelley said. "He is a No. 1 receiver, so you know the ball is coming his way nine times out of 10. You have to be on your A-game."
Lazard, an Iowa State senior, might be the most difficult receiver to cover in the conference. At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, he towers over K-State cornerbacks D.J. Reed (5-9), A.J. Parker (5-11) and Shelley (5-9). He has an obvious advantage every time he goes up for a jump ball.
"There's not many people that play on the defensive side of the ball and the secondary that can have that kind of ability to reach heights," K-State coach Bill Snyder said. "The receiver has an advantage, because the defender can't touch him until he touches the ball, so if they put it up in exactly the right spot, then it's a real challenge.
"You hope your guys can get a hand on it, or two hands on it, at a point in time before he's able to bring it into his hands and into his body. He is a good, talented young guy."
Lazard has had a bit of a down year, considering he topped 1,000 yards last season and could have left early for the NFL. But much of that can be blamed on erratic quarterback play.
He remains a matchup nightmare, particularly for a K-State secondary that has allowed 378.4 passing yards in Big 12 games. His 55 catches for 704 yards and nine touchdowns have helped the Cyclones win seven games. They are headed for their first bowl since 2012.
Some of Lazard's best grabs this year, including a go-ahead touchdown against Oklahoma, have come against double teams. K-State defenders will need to get creative against him.
"Big receivers like to push and shove, so you have got to be able to get physical with them," Shelley said. "They use their size to create separation and get to the ball against smaller guys. Our advantage is with our footwork.
"But Lazard actually has nice feet, nice hands and creates separation with nice crisp routes. He is going to be a little different. You are going to have to study him more, break him down in the film room and understand his tendencies."