MANHATTAN — Less than a week after winning the Cactus Bowl, Kansas State learned it will lose two standout juniors who helped lead the Wildcats to the postseason.
K-State’s D.J. Reed, an All-Big 12 cornerback and return specialist, and wide receiver Byron Pringle announced separately that they plan to enter this year’s NFL Draft. Reed announced Sunday night that he won’t return for his senior season, and Pringle followed by declaring his intention to enter the draft on Monday.
Reed played two seasons at K-State after transferring from Cerritos (Calif.) Community College. The 5-foot-9, 188-pounder from Bakersfield, Calif., had 47 tackles this past season with four interceptions and nine pass break-ups to earn All-Big 12 first-team defensive honors. He was a second-team All-America selection by Pro Football Focus.
Reed also was the all-conference return specialist and a second-team All-American on the Walter Camp team, averaging 34.2 yards on 17 kickoff returns with one touchdown and 14.9 yards on 17 punt returns with one TD to help the Wildcats to an 8-5 record that was capped by their 35-17 victory against UCLA in the Cactus Bowl.
Reed announced his decision with the following post on his Twitter account:
“A message to the world:
To having 0 offers out of high school, to walking on at Fresno State, to going JUCO at Cerritos Community College, the struggle has been real to say the least. But one thing I never lost was my faith in God and believing in myself. Becoming an All-American as a Defensive Back, kick returner, and punt returner is truly a blessing and it is true when they say, ‘You reap what you sow.’ I want to thank everyone that has helped me through this process. I want to thank my coaches from Fresno State, Cerritos Community College and Kansas State. And to all my fans, thank you for supporting me. With all of this being said, I will be forgoing my senior season and entering the 2018 NFL Draft.”
Pringle caught 30 passes for 724 yards with six touchdowns this past season. The Butler County Community transfer, who played two years at K-State, had 19 kickoff returns for a 26.1-yard average and one TD.
Pringle announced his decision with a lengthy social media post as an “Open letter to fans and supporters of Kansas State” that read in part:
“I would like to give my sincere thanks to Kansas State University for providing me with a tremendous educational and athletic opportunity. I have had the most amazing collegiate experience. With the support of my parents, coaches and mentors I have decided to forgo my final season as a Wildcat to pursue my next dream: to play in the NFL. I plan to enter the NFL draft.
“I would like to say a special thank you to Bill Snyder and his staff. Thank you for your patience and your faith in me.
“It has been an honor to be a Wildcat. I will forever call myself a Wildcat and carry it with respect, admiration and pride.”
Wildcat defensive end C.J. Reese, who previously announced he would leave the program as a graduate transfer following the Cactus Bowl, announced he will play his final season at UTEP.
A San Antonio native, Reese follows former K-State offensive coordinator Dana Dimel, who was named UTEP head coach last month. Former K-State linebackers coach Mike Cox was hired by Dimel as the Miners’ defensive coordinator.