Almost quietly, the K-State defensive line has become a unit where Coaches Seiler and Latimore only need to restock and not rebuild. The line has experienced the leadership and stability of at least two returning starters (or significant contributors) since before the 2012 Big 12 Championship season. That really is remarkable.
So who are the bastions returning this year? Why none other than a part man-part Grizzly bear and a man tabbed as one of the best DE’s in the conference, and possibly the nation.
Junior Will Geary returns from his late-season trip to the mountains* to anchor the interior of the Wildcat defensive line. While only 6’0”, he rolls in at nearly 300lbs and is consistently one of the top lifters in the weight room. The spot next to him, vacated by current Tampa Bay Buccaneer DT Travis Britz, is the question. RS-Freshman Trey Dishon started the Spring Game next to Geary, but Junior Matt Seiwert was also getting reps with the “ones” during K-State’s lone open practice session.
Senior Jordan Willis returns to terrorize Big 12 QB’s from the defensive end spot. He earned a pre-season nod to the All Big 12 team, and will look to improve on his 15.5 TFL and 9.5 sacks from 2015. There might be even more intrigue as to who will play opposite him than there is for DT, as Junior Davis Clark started with the purple team during the Spring Game, but Junior Tanner Wood saw considerable playing time in 2015.
*aka his suspension that kept him from the Liberty Bowl /WillGearyRumors
Whoever starts, there will be a deep bench behind them. Senior Craig Settles Jr. should be in the rotation at DT, and JUCO transfer Ray Price will also look to push for playing time. Behind that is Senior Logan O’Dea, who has spent most of his Wildcat career on the offensive line, and a smattering of freshmen who will likely redshirt.
There might be even more of a logjam at DE. C.J. Reese and Reggie Walker will both look to be part of the rotation at DE, and Senior Aulelio Olomua saw no playing time last season but should be fully in the system by now. Bronson “Boom” Massie will likely redshirt, same with former greyshirt Kyle Ball. The only real mystery man at DE is Osvelt Joseph who came to K-State from Garden City CC, but did not see any action during his RS Freshman season under HC Jeff Sims.
With the Wildcats returning two award winners, and with a plethora of options to fill the holes, it looks like 2016 could be another good year for the K-State defensive line. And really, for a trend that started in 2011, that’s an impressive feat. And what we said last year is still true this year; this may be one of the deepest units on the team. When you can look across the two-deep and not be scared by what might happen to a starter, you’re in a good place. And since the foundation for the units start up front, the Wildcat defense will have one very firm one to build on for 2016.