We kicked off our position previews with Special Teams. Then we back peddled into our Defensive Back preview, blitzed through the Linebacking Corp., outlined the starters on the Defensive and Offensive Line, threw it back to the Wide Receivers, and rushed headlong into the Running Backs. With all that behind us it’s time to air out our preview of the Quarterback position.
Just two years ago, the quarterback position was a mess. Jesse Ertz opened the season as the starting QB, but on the first play from scrimmage injured his knee and was out for the rest of the 2015 season. Uneven play from backups Joe Hubener, and wideout turned QB Kody Cook plagued the ‘Cats during the 2015 season.
The 2016 season began much like 2015 did, as Hubener and Ertz once again faced off to see who would lead the Wildcats during the 2016 campaign. Again, Ertz beat out Bazooka Joe, and while Ertz started the season slow (along with most of the offense) he came on strong late, winning MVP in the Texas Bowl. While there is no doubt who will lead the offense this season, the back-up position features an intriguing battle.
Jesse Ertz (Senior, Burlington, IA)
Clearly Ertz was the starter given the way he finished the 2016 season. Even with the aforementioned slow start, Ertz became one of only four players to rush and throw for 1,000 yards. Oh, and he did most of his late season damage while playing with a injured shoulder. After undergoing off-season surgery on said shoulder, Ertz missed all of spring practice and the Spring Game. Regardless, excitement is high for Ertz given Bill Snyder’s track record with returning starters at QB.
This season I expect we’ll see a few less carries (he had 183 last season) for Ertz given the strength of Kansas State’s running back corp. That doesn’t mean the Wildcats will abandon the QB run all together given how important those plays are to the K-State offense. If Kansas State can keep his carries under 150, and increase his pass attempts to around 300, expect the offense to be humming this season.
Alex Delton (Sophomore, Hays, KS)
Skylar Thompson ( Freshman (RS) Independence, MO)
Listed as OR on the depth chart, one of these players is the future at the QB position for Kansas State. We won’t find out who that is until next season, but that doesn’t stop us from speculating.
Delton, clearly has more experience at the collegiate level. He played as a true freshman in 2015 but managed only four rushing attempts and no passing attempts before suffering a season ending injury against UTSA. A medical redshirt allowed him to remain a freshman, and during the 2016 he attempted 6 passes, completing 3 for 11 yards. He also rushed 24 times for 116 yards and a touchdown. All of these stats came during mop up time in games against FAU, Missouri State, Iowa State, and Kansas. Alex Delton clearly has the legs to be the running QB the Kansas State offense requires, but his arm and decision making while throwing the football remain a mystery.
Skylar Thompson, however, is a complete mystery. Thompson redshirted his freshman year, and won the teams Red Raider Award as the top contributor on the scout team. At 6’2”, 209 lbs. Thompson has the prototypical QB build, and performed well in the Spring Game throwing for 112 yards on 10 of 17 passing. According to our own JT VanGilder, Thompson “looks like a D1 QB”. Even the defensive players on the team rave about his passing skills. Linebacker Sam Sizelove is quoted in this article by Kellis Robinett, saying “he can put the ball wherever he wants”, “when he was running scout team, he would just torch us with some balls that most Big 12 quarterbacks couldn’t put in there”. That’s high praise given some of the quarterbacks who start in the Big 12.
Overall, the question of which quarterback will be the future QB1 at Kansas State will wait until next year. Let’s hope we don’t need to find out which player is ahead this season.
Break In Case Of Emergency Only
Hunter Hall (Sophomore, Clearwater, KS)
Nick Ast (Freshman, Cimarron, KS)
Hunter Hall is a preferred walk-on with an impressive arm, who will primarily operate the scout team. He has not seen any action as a collegiate QB thus far, and unless a 2015 like injury plague strikes Manhattan, KS, I wouldn’t expect him to play this season.
Nick Ast is a freshman walk-on who will likely redshirt this season. Unranked by the recruiting services, Ast turned down an offer from Fort Hays State to play for the Wildcats. Look for Mr. Ast to provide quarterback depth for Kansas State in future seasons.