If you are like me, you are missing college football right now. The football season itself will be coming to a close here is a few weeks with the Super Bowl approaching fast. So the best way to stay in the college football spirit is to look to the future.
By head coach Chris Klieman and the Wildcat's standard, K-State football took a step back in the 2023 season. The Wildcats won the Big 12 championship in 2022 behind Will Howard and the talents of running back legend Deuce Vaughn. With players entering the NFL Draft and the transfer portal, some players this season saved their roster spots for the 2024 season.
RB DJ Giddens
DJ Giddens had some very big shoes to fill with Vaughn leaving for the NFL. Vaughn left with school records for receptions (116) and receiving yards (1,280) and ranked second in rushing yards (3,604), rushing attempts (651), 100-yard rushing games (21), and consecutive 100-yard rushing games (8). Vaughn declared for the NFL Draft as a junior, so I think it is safe to say that if he had stayed at K-State for his senior season, barring injury, he would have broken all those records.
That is a tough act to follow. K-State for years had a prolific rushing offense, and with the absence of Vaughn, there were many questions about who would take over. Well, the answer to that question was Giddens.
In 2022, his freshman season, Giddens had 518 rushing yards, 98 receiving yards, and three receiving touchdowns. In 2023, now the lead back, Giddens doubled his rushing yards with 1,226 and was used a lot more in the receiving game with 323 yards. Giddens had a career day in the first game of conference play against UCF with 207 rushing yards, 86 receiving yards, and four rushing touchdowns.
With the transfer of Treshaun Ward to Boston College and the season Giddens had in 2023, he cemented his roster spot and not only that but cemented himself as the starter for the Wildcats.
WR Jayce Brown
Jayce Brown was thrown into action in his first year as a college football player. Brown as a true freshman played in 10 games for the Wildcats with 437 receiving yards and a season-high 98 yards against in-state rival Kansas. Brown also had three touchdowns on the season.
With tight end Ben Sinnott and Philip Brooks declaring for the NFL Draft, along with a couple of other receivers entering the transfer portal, Klieman will be looking for replacements.
Starting slow, Brown picked it up in the last five games of the season, including the bowl game. Other than the Baylor game where he only had 6 receiving yards, Brown had at least 50 yards in four of the last five games of the season, including 77 yards in the game against No. 7 Texas.
Brown had the most receiving yards of any Wildcat in the bowl game against NC State and the lone touchdown for a receiver as well. I believe it is safe to say that especially with K-State currently not getting any wide receivers from the transfer portal, Brown secured his roster spot in 2023 and will be a top receiver for the Wildcats in 2024.
S Marques Sigle
As a transfer from North Dakota State, Klieman's previous program, Marques Sigle played in 11 games in his last season as a Bison, finishing the season with 27 tackles, a sack, two interceptions, and five passes defended. Sigle came into a K-State program that has a physical defense and can light up the scoreboard on offense.
Sigle had a solid first season with the Wildcats, playing in 12 games and finishing the year with 63 total tackles, one interception, and nine pass breakups. His only interception came against rival Kansas. Sigle also had three tackles for loss that tallied up 11 yards on the season.
Kansas State was hit hard with six guys on the defensive side of the ball leaving for the transfer portal. Sigle was able to cement himself on the roster with solid play in 2023 but can cement himself as a leader in 2024. With a younger defense, Sigle can be a leader in the secondary with lots of experience both from the FCS and FBS levels.