The story of K-State's defensive ends in 2010 can be summed up with a simple variation on a familiar cliche:
The bad news is that Jeffrey Fitzgerald is gone.
The good news is that Brandon Harold is back.
Remember, Harold and Fitzgerald were supposed to bookend a defensive line last year that would have been potent.
But the same knee injur(y/ies) that sidelined Harold and cost him his (first) sophomore season also forced Fitzgerald to shoulder the pass-rushing burden alone — even starting several games at defensive tackle until the emergence of Raphael Guidry.
Now Fitzgerald is gone and Harold must return to his freshman-season form (10.5 TFL and 3 sacks), shake off more than a season of rust and step in to fill the void. Whether he can do so successfully will be the second-most important story of K-State's season. (The most important, of course, being the quarterbacks, who I will profile tomorrow.)
But Harold won't have to do it alone. Click the jump to meet the group of hybrid linebacker/end pass rushers, called "bandits," that will assist him in obvious passing situations.
The Hybrid Bandits
#40 Antonio Felder
Antonio Felder seized one defensive end starting position midway through last season and hasn't let go — he'll open this season as a starter, too. Although he has bulked up to 244 pounds, I still classify him as a bandit because he originally came to K-State as a linebacker. I look for him to have a monster season if Brandon Harold can return to form and start drawing double teams.
#44 Josh Berard
I've been waiting for Josh Berard to emerge ever since Ron Prince signed him three years ago. Part of it is that he was a highly touted juco prospect, and part is that his name sounds so similar to Josh Buhl's. Well, an injury derailed him in 2008, forcing him to redshirt, and he saw only meager playing time last season in a deep linebacker corps.
Berard opens the 2010 season tied for second behind Brandon Harold, but it's pretty clear that his 212-pound frame won't allow him to play defensive end full-time. I expect him to excel as a third-down pass-rush specialist, however.
#55 Kadero Terrell
The story of Kadero Terrell is a long, winding and somewhat depressing one. He originally planned to play basketball in junior college, but the coaches at Garden City Community College instead convinced him to move to western Kansas and pursue football. Of course, they must not have driven home to him the Jayhawk Conference restriction that prevents the school from having more than 12 out-of-state players on the roster — and he didn't make the cut.
His sophomore season, an injury prevented him from playing and he again was left on the practice squad. Enter Ron Prince, who offered Terrell based upon his practice exploits. That started a firestorm on GoPowercat.com, where apoplectic fans used the scholarship offer to a juco player who hadn't played in two years as evidence of Prince's incompetence.
Well, they were right about the latter, but apparently not the former — Bill Snyder obviously saw something in Terrell, naming him a starter at defensive end after Harold's initial knee injury. Two days later, the unlucky man broke his leg and missed yet another season.
Optimists will say Terrell has all the measurables to be successful. He displayed speed and power in the 2009 spring game, and those who have seen him in person say he is much bigger than his listed weight of 237 pounds — he's probably much closer to 250. But pessimists will remind you that he hasn't played organized, competitive football in more than three years and never has logged meaningful snaps at the college level.
Needless to say, Terrell remains an enigma heading into the UCLA game, where he is listed as Antonio Felder's primary backup at the bandit position.
#58 Clarence Bumpas
Clarence Bumpas is not listed on the opening depth chart for the 2010 season, but it isn't for lack of talent.
Rather, it's inexperience that will hold back the 6-foot-1, 226-pound redshirt freshman who arrived from Colorado Springs as the 65th-ranked outside linebacker in the nation. Inexperience is only overcome through playing time, and I fully expect Bumpas will see some of that this season.
We'll need someone to replace Berard and Felder next season, and Bumpas and Terrell remain the two most viable candidates on the roster. How they develop this season will affect not just this team's potential, but the program's future, too.
#97 Adam Davis
Oh, what could have been... No disrespect to Felder, but Davis would have been perfect for the bandit position. The 242-pound sackmaster accumulated 23 in two years at Hutchinson Community College, second all-time at the school.
He had 14.5 his freshman season, which is third all-time at Hutch, and 8.5 his sophomore year, including an eye-popping 4.5 against Butler County Community College, one of the best programs in the country. Alas, he injured his back severely this summer.
Best case scenario? He has two disks fused, undergoes months of rehabilitation, redshirts and perhaps finds his way onto the field next year. Worst case? He never plays football again. I feel terrible for Adam. But man, our injury luck at this position has been simply terrible for the past five years or so.
The Pass Rushers
#52 Matt Bowman
#54 Taylor Godinet
#57 Jordan Voelker
#72 Ryan Mueller
Depth at the "traditional" defensive end position will be provided by the above four walk-ons. Bowman's a 245-pound freshman out of Kearney, Neb., who likely will redshirt; Godinet's a 231-pounder from Wamego — same prediction; and Mueller walked on from St. Thomas Aquinas in Leawood, Kan.
Voelker, however, is the surprise of fall camp, currently vying with Berard to solidify the spot behind Harold on the depth chart. Nobody even really mentioned this kid before two days ago, so he must really be impressing the coaches (or they're trying to motivate someone else, but I doubt it). He's 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, and he played tight end and reserve defensive end at Butler County before transferring to K-State.
#90 Laton Dowling
Laton Dowling has all the makings to be the next great homegrown Kansas defensive end in the tradition of such greats as Nyle Wiren, Joe Bob Clements (his position coach), Monty Beisel and Ian Campbell. Like Campbell, he hails from western Kansas — Dodge City, to be exact. At 231 pounds, he could play the position right now if we needed him to, but he'd be manhandled by the better teams on the schedule. More likely, he'll redshirt and continue to gain weight/strength.
#91 Brandon Harold
I think I already pretty much summed up where Harold stands in the introduction. He was great as a freshman and we need him to be great (or greater) again. But in between, he suffered through a lot of crap — injuries, doubts, homesickness — and it's still an open question how much he's past it, although he swears up and down that he's moved on grown from his sophomore season that wasn't. The official roster lists him at 264, but most reports have him down to a more manageable 255, which should allow him to preserve his pass-rushing speed.
#92 Josh Sutton
Josh Sutton is somewhat unheralded, but the Fort Scott Community College product, who redshirted last season, has decent size — 6-foot-4, 250 pounds. But he only amassed one tackle at the junior college level, so I don't expect him to make much of an impact beyond the scout team in his last two seasons.
#98 Ethan Reinke
Ethan's another likely redshirt candidate, a 6-foot-6, 225-pounder from Stilwell, Kan.
- Starters: Brandon Harold and Antonio Felder
- Backups: Josh Berard and Kadero Terrell
- Third-String: Clarence Bumpas and Jordan Voelker