Like a familiar refrain, the same question hovers over the impending football season the haunted the last five: Will K-State finally find a pass rush?
Of course, the key to any good pash rush is for the big uglies in the middle to stuff up the offensive line and shut down the running game, rendering the opposing offense one-dimensional.
K-State's ability to do that this season is somewhat in question after the graduation of Daniel Calvin and Michael Abana, as well as the offseason departure of Gabriel Crews and the failure of juco transfer Justin Williams to become eligible in the summer.
But there's still a nice mix of personnel left in the system and they should be able to at least duplicate last season's effort, if not exceed it — as long as they are no significant injuries. Depth is a real and pressing concern, and it could be a storyline all season with this defensive front.
K-State's defensive tackles await you after the jump.
The Run Stuffers
#46 Prizell Brown
His story is well known by now. Prizell Brown was an extremely late find by the coaching staff last year — his name didn't cross the fans' radar until late July 2009. He arrived from Blinn Community College as a tight end, was converted to defensive end on his second day of camp and moved inside to defensive tackle this spring. To aid his transition, he's been on a steady diet of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches — anywhere from 6 to 10 a day. Thus, he's bulked up from 260 pounds to 290 without sacrificing his agility, which should make him a handful for opposing guards.
#60 Dustin Sobieraj
Dustin has seen spot time in two seasons since walking on from Rocky Mountain College, where he redshirted. He'll provide depth, but I'm hopeful we won't have to dig that deep because he's only 239 pounds. The Hansen Sekona experiment is too fresh in my mind for me to believe such a lightweight player can hold his own in the Big 12.
#62 Logan Wiltfong
At 6-foot-3 and 269 pounds, Wiltfong has promising size to develop into an effective reserve player for us, but barring a catastrophe, he'll redshirt this season.
#73 Oladipo Fajimolu
There was some early talk last season that Fajimolu, a Nigerian transplant, was impressing the coaches and pushing for some playing time, but he ended up redshirting. If Javonta Boyd doesn't progress like the coaches are hoping or is held back by injury, Fajimolu could be pressed into action to spell the undersized Payton Kirk.
#93 Eric Diesel
Step aside, Blake Slaughter. Eric Diesel (no relation to Vin) has the best damn football name on the team. And at 6-foot-4, 285 pounds, the brother-in-law of K-State recruiting coordinator Joe Gordon is no slouch in the weight department, either.
#94 Raphael Guidry
Guidry started his K-State career as a defensive end but moved inside last season when the coaches needed to beef up the interior. Despite starting several games in 2009, he'll open 2010 as a backup to juco transfer Ray Kibble. But you'll still see plenty of the Texas City product, and he'll be the favorite to replace Brown at the other spot going into next year, I'd wager.
#95 Ray Kibble
Speaking of Kibble, he executed quite a coup by unseating Guidry. Arriving early for spring practice certainly helped. At Navarro College, he teamed with Williams and Texas Tech defensive lineman Lawrence Rumph to form the most feared defensive front in Texas junior college football last year. Just ask Cameron Newton (and Prizell Brown, for that matter) how good they were. The 296-pounder will be asked to hold down the middle from the nose tackle position.
#96 Payton Kirk
Kirk's move inside is recent enough that he's still listed as a defensive end on the official roster. What's unknown is if the conversion was necessitated by an injury to Javonta Boyd and a resulting need to bolster depth at the three-technique position, or if Boyd's simply not getting it done. I'm not sure which would be worse. Kirk's a decent reserve defensive end who looked good filling in for Brandon Harold in the spring game, but at 264 pounds, he'll be challenged at his new position.
#99 Javonta Boyd
Boyd originally committed to Ron Prince a few years ago, but failed to become eligible. He landed at Butler County Community College and kept true to his original commitment, even though we had a coaching change. In spring, it looked as if Boyd would back up Brown, but he must either be hurt or not performing to Bill Snyder's standards, since Kirk's penciled in second on the depth chart right now. We need Boyd to step it up/get healthy because a four-man rotation ain't gonna get 'er done in Big 12 play.
- Starter: Prizell Brown
- Backup: Payton Kirk
- Third-String: Oladipo Fajimolu
- Starter: Ray Kibble
- Backup: Raphael Guidry
- Third-String: Javonta Boyd