I’m sure you’ve heard already, but if not, prepare yourself for some moderately bad football news....Isaiah Zuber has been sucked into the vortex of the transfer portal.
Technically, Zuber could test the water and return to Manhattan, but that’s not going to happen. Rumor around the internet is that Texas (among other teams) is interested in his services. The water appears to be warm and calm for the Stone Mountain, Georgia native. The fact that Andre Coleman just happens to be an “analyst” for Texas is....wait...I’ve said too much (adjusts tinfoil hat).
Losing Zuber is a substantial blow to the 2019 team. He was expected to be the lead receiver in the Wildcat attack after putting up back to back 50+ catch seasons in 2017 and 2018. That sort of experience is difficult to replace. Throw in the fact that Hunter Rison is indefinitely suspended because of a pending domestic violence charge and a position most people saw as a strength of the 2019 roster just turned into a huge question mark.
Losing Zuber is concerning, but it’s not time to hit the panic button just yet.
If you’re looking for an explosive option at receiver, look no further than Malik Knowles. Malik has the potential to be a taller, more explosive version of Zuber. He lacks experience, but at some point, every college player lacks experience. In fact, it’s possible that Knowles is further along in the new offense than Zuber because Knowles was on the field this spring and Zuber was on crutches. Experience is important, but becomes less so when everyone is learning a new offense.
If you can play, you can play. It’s really that simple.
I think Malik can play.
If the coaching staff doesn’t think Knowles is ready to fill Zuber’s role, there is another option.
Chabastin is one of the more interesting players on the roster. He’s not a like for like replacement for Zuber’s explosive skill set, but his 6’4, 225 pound frame is a tantalizing option for the new power based K-State offense.
When K-State goes 3 wide, I love the idea of isolating the physical Taylor on one side of the field and letting now-lone senior Dalton Schoen and Knowles work combination routes on the other side. I like the idea of a more physical receiving group that can sustain block on the outside, and Zuber leaving may free up more playing time for Taylor.
Keenan Garber - 6’0, 175 - 3* (87) - WR/DB
Joshua Youngblood - 5’11, 170 - 3* (84) - WR/DB
I expected both of these players to redshirt this year, now I think 1, if not both, will see the field this year. Garber is (probably) the more polished wide receiver and Youngblood is (probably) the more explosive player.
This is a good time to be a freshman at K-State. The slate has been wiped clean and the new guys coming in are going to get a chance to beat out the current players on the roster. For Garber and Youngblood, it’s going to come down to learning the offense and treating every rep in practice like an audition of the starting job.
I don’t think either will start, but losing Zuber might get one of them on the field this year.
The Transfer Portal
The transfer portal that sucked Zuber up could just as well deposit another receiver in Manhattan. This, of course, is pure speculation on my part, but the K-State just became an interesting option for any grad transfer receiver looking for an opportunity to “be the man” for a season.
There aren’t many experienced wide receiver options on the transfer market at this exact moment, but players still have the summer to get their credits together and graduate. The timing of Zuber’s transfer hurts more than anything else because options that may have been available earlier are no longer in play.
We’re not talking about anyone and everyone under the sun here, but there are a couple of names that stand out. The biggest is Wykeen Gill, who will very likely end up on scholarship before the 2019 season starts. Gill made a name for himself at the end of the 2018 season, and followed that up with a strong spring that got his name mentioned among the “bigger stars” of the position group. Also look out for pint-sized RS-FR Seth Porter, who was running with the ones and twos at the Spring Showcase. Porter is definitely a slot receiver in the mold of a Wes Welker, but his emergence could put some pressure on the guys in front of him to not back off without Zuber and Rison to chase.