Jan. 3, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA: Kansas State Wildcats offensive lineman Cornelius Lucas (78) against the Oregon Ducks during the 2013 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Oregon defeated Kansas State 35-17. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

78 Days To K-State Football: Cornelius Lucas Player Preview

For our next installment of the 100 day countdown to kickoff against North Dakota State University, 78 is the number of days left until kick-off at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. 78 is also the number worn by offensive lineman Cornelius Lucas, a critical component of the Collin Klein/John Hubert rushing machine that went for almost 2,000 combined yards rushing in 2013.

Lucas pairs with Finney to make two of the most draftable offensive linemen to come out of K-State recently, and many draft prognosticators believe he will be selected in 2014. The Sports Xchange currently ranks him the seventh best offensive tackle in the draft next year, and it’s easy to see why. Standing tall at 6’8″ and a massive 328 pounds, Lucas bulldozed almost anyone that got in his way last year while protecting Collin Klein’s blind spot. As a redshirt junior he was a first team All-Big 12 selection and should do it again his final season in Manhattan.

Cornelius Lucas is another example of superb scouting/player development at K-State. A two-star prospect out of high school in New Orleans, he did not receive a national ranking and was outside the top 50 players in the state. As such, K-State was the only BCS program to offer a scholarship with other proffers from Alabama State, LA Monroe, South Alabama, and Tulane. Yet the player whose name nobody recognized in 2011 as a reserve and special teams player broke out in 2012 to be one of the best (if not the best) in the Big 12. The Dallas Morning News recently ranked him the number one offensive lineman in the Big 12 coming into the 2013 season.

Lucas will have his work cut out for him no matter what quarterback is thrown his way. A throwback player built for the 1980s, he would likely welcome a Jake Waters regime that allows him to knock around pass rushers without having to block into the second level like Klein required while running the option. Yet Daniel Sams provides the mobility to escape pressure and would naturally make Lucas look better by proxy. Yet no matter who starts, Lucas should own the title of the best player on the best offensive line in the Big 12, and that’s reason for both family and fans to celebrate his return for a special senior season.

To work backward in the countdown, visit 79 days, where we examine guard Keenan Taylor.

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