April 2012 only saw one player from K-State find a home through the NFL draft – and even that was a stretch, as Bryce Brown saw little playing time and quit the team his first year after transferring to Manhattan before conference play started. 2013 should be a much more profitable year for departing Wildcat players. Over the next two weeks, Jug of Snyder will be assessing the players entering 2012 with draft hopes and how they finished their careers with K-State. For our fifth installment we go to to a man rarely mentioned in the highlight reel, but always found in the background making the blocks the put Klein and Hubert on SportsCenter; FB Braden Wilson.
Several K-State fans would be hard-pressed to name the team’s starting fullback. In fact, almost no one outside of EMAW nation can come up with who bears the jersey of NFL.com’s number three ranked fullback in the NCAA. Yet when Collin Klein, John Hubert, and Angelo Pease exit the end zone, one of their first teammates to thank was always Braden Wilson.
Wilson’s personal stats suggest a relatively unremarkable season: six carries for 13 yards, five receptions for 34 yards, and one (rushing) touchdown. It was an improvement from 2011, when he rushed for 15 yards and only hauled in two catches for 14 yards. However, gaining chunks of yards is not the job of Bill Snyder’s fullbacks. Klein did not run a triple-option attack. The K-State option featured Klein and Hubert running on parallel tracks, often with an isolated defender forced to choose which player to defend. The play worked because Wilson was often five yards downfield, clearing out any would-be tacklers from reaching his charges.
Wilson may be expected be bulk up slightly to play fullback in the NFL, but any strength and conditioning coach worth his salt should have no probably helping reach on ideal playing weight. During his senior season he was listed at 256 pounds and a towering 6’4″. A product of Smith Center, the tiny football factory on the plains, Wilson was a three-year starter and saw extensive time as a backup his freshman year as well. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper currently ranks him as the number four senior fullback this year.
While fullbacks are not often taken in the early rounds of the draft, it’s a critical position that every team must fill (note: the Chiefs did not have a fullback during their disastrous 2-14 season. Not blaming the awful play on the lack of one position, but the football gods have obviously expressed their displeasure with the roster decision). Additionally, Wilson’s height makes him tempting to serve as a third tight end in goal line packages. He’s tough, knows how to engage with his blocks, has decent mobility, and stands a good chance of finding someone to give him a chance on the next level.