Kanas State inked 15 guys in the early signing period. The Wildcats lost just as many guys to the transfer portal and even more to the NFL Draft. Kansas State is going to have a young group of guys heading into the 2024 season.
Chris Klieman brought in only two four-star recruits and 13 three-star recruits. The Big 12 will be losing Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC in the summer of 2024 but will be gaining Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah. In the new 16-team conference, Kansas State has the No. 12 ranked 2024 recruiting class.
With the players that departed, there are places on the roster that need depth and will need players to step up. Klieman has lost his entire offensive line to the NFL Draft and graduation. He lost two linebackers to the portal and one to the draft and lost two more wide receivers also to the portal.
Wildcat fans are anxiously waiting to see what team will take the field behind new starting quarterback Avery Johnson. So which of these freshmen can come and make a difference? Well, I will do you one even better. Here are five freshmen that have to come in a be elite for Kansas State in 2024.
Gus Hawkins: Interior Offensive Linemen 4-star recruit
Gus Hawkins is from Mill Valley High School in Shawnee, Kansas. Hawkins is coming out of high school as a four-star recruit according to 247Sports. The offensive tackle comes out as the No. 2 ranked player out of the state of Kansas and the No. 24 ranked offensive tackle in the nation.
Hawkins won a Class 5A State title with Mill Valley and won Kansas Offensive Lineman of the Year. in 2023. He was also ranked the No. 242 in 247Sports' national rankings. With Klieman having to start from scratch with his offensive line next season, Hawkins could be the perfect young player to build the line around.
Why does Hawkins need to be elite though? He is going to be protecting Johnson, the future of Kansas State football. Johnson is a very mobile quarterback but also has a cannon for an arm. So Hawkins will have to be able to create rushing lanes for a prolific rushing offense, but also give Johnson time to throw the ball effectively.
Kaedin Massey: Offensive Tackle 4-star recruit
Kaedin Massey comes from Lydon High School in Lyndon, Kansas. The four-star recruit according to 247Sports is the No. 4 ranked recruit coming out of the state of Kansas and the No. 28 ranked tackle in the nation. Massey also received offers from Nebraska, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, and Duke.
Like Hawkins, Massey will also have the job of protecting Avery Johnson. Klieman can build his offensive line up with newer and older guys. Klieman brought in Easton Kilty from North Dakota out of the transfer portal. Kilty can pair well with Massey bringing experience and knowledge to a decimated offensive line.
Massey will have the same job as Hawkins in protecting Johnson and creating running lanes for both Johnson and running back DJ Giddens.
Trae Davis: Wide Receiver 3-star recruit
Trae Davis is an out-of-state recruit for Klieman, coming from Troup High School in Troup, Texas. Davis is the No. 65 ranked recruit coming out of Texas and is listed as the No. 24 ranked athlete recruit in the nation according to 247Sports.
Davis brings more than just his ability to catch the ball to his game. The young wide receiver is a three-sport athlete playing football, basketball, and running track and field. As a track athlete, Davis was. state qualifier in the triple jump and ran the 100 meter, the mile, and did long jump.
Chris Klieman lost Ben Sinnott and Philip Brooks to the NFL Draft and two more receivers to the portal. The good news is that he did just recently bring in Dante Cephas from the transfer portal. The wide receiver core still needs work to help out Johnson. Davis will be able to make moves on his defenders and get down the field fast for Johnson with his speed. His ability to get open will be crucial, but with the speed Davis has, he has to be elite for this young offense.
Callen Barta: Safety 3-star recruit
Callen Barta is a Kansas kid from Seaman High School in Topeka, Kansas. Barta is coming to Kansas State as the No. 8 ranked recruit out of the state of Kansas and the No. 66 ranked safety in the nation. The young safety originally committed to play at Nebraska before de-committing and choosing to play for Chris Klieman.
The Wildcats lost safety Kobe Savage to Oregon in the transfer portal. Losing Savage leaves a big hole in the secondary for Kansas State. K-State needs young players to come in and build up the defense in order to be successful for years to come.
The Topeka native is going to have to come in and make a statement on this Kansas state defense. The Wildcats will be fine on the offensive side of the ball behind Johnson and Giddens, but it is another story on the defensive side of the ball. With young defense, Barta can come in be elite and make a lot of noise for Kansas State, and that is exactly what he needs to do.
Boone Morris: Linebacker 3-star recruit
Boone Morris may not be the highest-ranked player in Texas, but let's face it, Texas is huge there are so many players coming out of that state. Morris is the No. 178 ranked player coming out of Texas and the No. 113 ranked linebacker in the state. He comes from Mount Vernon High School in Mount Vernon.
Boone is coming to a Kansas State linebacker room that will have no returning starters. Daniel Green, who did not play most of the 2023 season, just declared for the NFL Draft, and the other starters entered the transfer portal. Boone needs to be elite in this linebacker group because of the players they lost.