Kansas State knew it would suffer a rash of player departures as graduation took 10 of its eleven starters on defense. It didn’t expect lose several assistant coaches as well. Well, maybe it just hoped it wouldn’t lose coaches – taking a team expected to finish in the bottom half of the Big 12 all the way to the Fiesta Bowl demonstrates an ability to get the most out of players, and that’s what Arkansas saw in Michael Smith when it lured him away from his wide receivers coach job at K-State. Smith had been with KSU for over ten years. Yesterday, the University announced it has found Smith’s replacement in former K-State receiver Andre Coleman.
Coleman brings a strong pedigree to his position as both a player and a coach. He cut his teeth as a wide receiver while playing for Snyder from 1990-93, where he was an All-American his senior year. He went on to be drafted in the third round by the San Diego Chargers and had a five year career in the NFL (notably, he was the first Wildcat to ever catch a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl). As a kick returner, he also set multiple Super Bowl records against the 49ers. In the loss to the star-laden team (these were the glory years of San Francisco, with Steve Young, Jerry Rice, and Deion Sanders), he registered the most kickoff returns (8), most return yards (244), and most total yards (244).
As a coach, Coleman has worked with wide receivers at Youngstown State (Ohio) since 2011. He also coached tight ends in 2010. Fortunately for Coleman, he will have some assistance in adjusting to coaching at the BCS level. Although the team loses leading receiver Chris Harper to graduation this year, the electric Tyler Lockett (44 catches for 687 yards, four touchdowns) will be an upperclassman this fall and appears more than capable of filling in Harper’s shoes. Additionally, Tramaine Thompson (37 catches for 526 yards, four touchdowns) will return for his senior season and will likely benefit from an increase in targets. It will be Coleman’s responsibility to identify and develop a third threat to scorch the field. Local favorite Curry Sexton – a junior from Abilene – may fill that role after catching seven passes for 75 yards and a touchdown while vying for attention behind K-State’s big three receivers plus standout tight end Travis Tannahill this past year.
Although the wide receiver position largely took a backseat over the past two years as Collin Klein and Chris Hubert combined to create one of the most devastating running games in college football, that could change in 2013. The quarterback competition between Daniel Sams and Jake Waters will get underway when the team starts spring training, and few know what to expect from this duel. While Sams may remind Wildcat fans of a Michael Bishop-type player (able to throw, but much more dangerous on his feet with game-breaking ability), JUCO transfer Waters is a traditional pocket passer that was named the junior college offensive player of the year while leading Iowa Western to the NJCAA national title. However, Waters also managed to run for 300 yards and has proven himself at the collegiate level. Sams has mostly seen mop-up duty, although his two years of experience in Bill Snyder’s system may lend an early edge. Either way, Coleman will have a competent player under center and enough talent at the WR position to help ensure the continued offensive success at K-State