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K-State caps first day of early signing period with press conference

Taylor Braet was instrumental in holding the class together while the head coach’s position was vacant.

NCAA Football: Kansas State at Iowa State
With the early departure of Alex Barnes, running back became a position of need for the Wildcats.
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Before summarizing the high points of Coach Klieman and Taylor Braet’s early signing day press conference, let’s first acknowledge the excellent work of JT VanGilder to bring us up-to-the-moment recruiting news today. This is a fan site, without the resources of a paid staff, access to athletic department sources, or contacts with recruits or their parents. JT went the extra mile to keep us informed, all while keeping up with his real-life obligations, for nothing more than the thanks we give him. Well done and much appreciated, JT.

All things considered, it appears to have been a good day for K-State. Staff holdovers Taylor Braet, Collin Klein and Blake Seiler managed to retain most of the players who committed before Coach Snyder retired, and Coach Klieman visited a number of recruits over the last week to seal the deal. A couple of surprises swung K-State’s way when James Gilbert, a graduate transfer running back from Ball State, signed this morning, and William Jones II, a defensive back from Summit High School in Mansfield Texas flipped from California to K-State. The cherry on top of the day came around 3:15 this afternoon, when Keenan Garber and Jax Dineen (brother of the Big 12’s leading tackler, Joe Dineen, of KU) held a ceremony at Lawrence Free State High School to sign their K-State letters of intent.

In all, the Wildcats inked 15 players, all but three of them from the high school ranks.

Press Conference Summary

Coach Klieman and Taylor Braet sat side-by-side for questions, and each probably spoke about the same amount of time. Braet gushes K-State pride. Even his wedding ring is purple. He said he was thrilled for the opportunity to be unleashed to travel and keep this class together while athletic director Gene Taylor sought Coach Snyder’s replacement and to help finalize the class once Klieman came on-board. Klieman stressed repeatedly that recruiting is about building relationships and said Braet “has done a great job of that.” Braet said he was able to “sell Gene” to the recruits, assuring them he would identify and land a coach who was a great fit for K-State.

On the late addition of Gilbert, Klieman said the recruit knew K-State’s depth chart at running back, and the coaching staff sees in him an opportunity to lend some leadership and experience to the position. Klieman did not promise him anything other than an opportunity to compete for playing time, and he believes that Gilbert’s opportunity to be at K-State in the spring is immensely valuable. Braet identified running back, as well as tight end and defensive back, as areas of continuing need that the staff hopes to address before the February signing period.

The late flip of Jones resulted, in large part, from the efforts of Blake Seiler, who opened the door and kept it open until the new coach could meet him. Klieman said that once the recruit met him, as well, they “hit it off.” Being able to play games closer to home than he would have at Cal was a positive, and needs at defensive back presents Jones an opportunity to get on the field.

Winning recruits in Lawrence is a clear source of pride for Braet. He had built a relationship with Jax Dineen’s father several years ago, when older brother Joe was a recruit. He said Jax wants to be different, and that his friend and classmate Keenan Garber helped K-State to land Jax, whose family’s ties to KU run generations deep. Both Garber and Dineen, he said, are “great kids from great families.”

Asked whether he would expend particular focus on recruiting players from Kansas, Coach Klieman said he will not have a quota for any particular area, but that K-State needs to give players in the area a look if they fit the profile. He said the coaches will dig into local areas looking for those kids who understand and value K-State and its way of doing things. Klieman acknowledged that the team still has unaddressed roster needs, but said all players must be a good fit, first and foremost.