We’re now just 15 days from kick-off against North Dakota State and truly in the meat of our daily countdown with an impressive double feature of player previews today. Two players were listed as number 15 on the spring roster – quarterback Jake Waters and cornerback Randall Evans. Because both players will be competing not just for a roster spot, but starting roles, it’s safe to assume one will be forced to find another jersey number. And while Waters wore the number at Iowa Western before transferring to K-State, Evans owned the number for K-State last year and should be allotted the jersey.
While we’ll be rolling out our look of Randall Evans this afternoon, this morning we focus on incoming QB Jake Waters. Waters is a highly decorated player who’s constantly been looking to prove himself despite not always playing superior competition. In high school he won three – three! - Iowa State Championships as a starter while going 37-2 at quarterback and being named a First Team All-State selection all three years. His stats were 5,288 passing yards and 70 touchdowns along with 1,820 rushing yards and 28 scores.
Waters’ biggest problem was playing in division 1A, where standout athletes must make the argument they’re capable of doing the same things against better competition. He ended up attending Iowa Western Community College, where he was the 2012 NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year after going 12-0 and winning a National Championship over Butler Community College. On the way he broke Cam Newton’s passing completion record after connecting on 73.3 percent of passes. In 333 passes he threw for 39 touchdowns but just three interceptions, and was named a 2012 NJCAA First Team All-American.
After dominating on every level he’s ever competed at, Waters decided to take his talents to the next level with the Wildcats last December. It’s an interesting selection at first glance – why not choose a team with a more wide-open quarterback competition and pro-style or West Coast offense? At K-State he must battle with Daniel Sams, a heralded speedster designed to run the programs’ read option offense.
My first thought is that he was told he’d see the field during the recruiting process to get him to Manhattan. And truly, he has too great an arm and ability to read defenses not to have him passing downfield. Secondly, it’s not that he can’t run the ball – he’s a decent scrambler and can certainly take off if need be. However, I remain committed to the idea that the roommates (seriously, they are) are complements and not competitors. As discussed last month, it makes sense for the team to put both on the field.
I objected to this approach in past seasons when Bill Snyder couldn’t choose between two quarterbacks when one seemed truly better than the other, but this is different. I would be perfectly content with Waters starting five games this year, keeping teams constantly off-guard and unsure of which approach K-State will take each week. When he is on the field, Waters will take full advantage of the speed Tyler Lockett brings to the field and have multiple touchdown passes to the junior receiver. He’ll also be capable of delivering the ball where only giant tight end Andre McDonald can catch it, creating nasty red zone mismatches. There’s really no telling how much time Jake Waters will see the field this year, but when he does, he should be brilliant.