We've all heard the stories before. We've seen the success of the program, and we've seen what can happen when it's abused. But Hall-Of-Fame HC Bill Snyder has long been a proponent of JUCO recruiting, often being credited for spurring the current environment regarding JUCO recruiting.
The 1998 Kansas State Wildcat team was built on the backs of some solid JUCO players. It was that JUCO pipeline that allowed Snyder to keep up with the Jones' of college football by allowing him to keep his roster stocked with junior and senior football players, thereby ensuring a certain level of football maturity to allow consistent performance that wasn't always going to be available from the high school players Snyder was able to recruit to Manhattan. He was also able to use the JUCO system to place HS prospects with grade or other issues in an environment where they could improve to the standard needed at K-State without needing to devote roster spots to players who wouldn't see the field for two or three years, or without losing them completely because they couldn't make the grades in HS.
After his retirement and subsequent return, much had changed at both K-State and nationally with regards to JUCO recruiting. Ron Prince had nearly decimated the program by relying too heavily on JUCO recruits, signing a startling 20 JUCO recruits in 2008. So when Snyder came back in 2009, he was faced with a roster heavy in former-JUCO players. Also, more coaches were dipping into the talent pond that the JCUO's were providing, thus making it harder for Snyder to hoard JUCO talent and/or ensure his JUCO placements would make it to campus.
Undaunted by the challenge, as one would expect from a HOF coach, Snyder quickly went to work stabilizing the roster by rebuilding the high school athlete base. His classes had between five and nine recruits since 2009, but were almost all carefully selected and nearly every one has seen starting time since their arrival on campus. A few have even turned into NFL players and starters, or have at least set records while on campus.
So why the change this year? There is currently only one JUCO athlete committed with a scholarship offer, Aulelio Olomua, a 6'5" 240lb DE from Mesa (AR) C.C. There are some other JUCO players the staff is recruiting, but it appears there has been a major shift in recruiting philosophy.
Most informed commentators have decided that this shift is the result of Snyder and his staff's faith in both the athletes already on the roster, as well as their ability to recruit and maintain commitments from quality high school athletes. Also, it can be argued that this may indicate that Bill Snyder's HOF career may soon be over, and that the shift is his attempt to finish stabilizing and solidifying the foundation of his program before he hands it off to his successor. Without true inside information, it may be difficult to tell, but it is obvious that big things are happening behind the scenes in the
Vanier Football Complex West Stadium Center (the temporary home of the K-State coaches).