So we’ll start with the disappointing news and work our way to something more positive. K-State announced on Wednesday that their season is officially over after choosing to opt out of any bowl consideration due to COVID-19 positive tests. Even with their 4-6 record, the Cats felt they had a pretty good chance of heading either to Dallas to play in the First Responder Bowl or Phoenix to play in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl. Alas, the only place they’ll be heading now is home. Even more disappointing than missing a bowl game is the fact that, with football activities paused, K-State won’t even be able to get in some extra practices for their underclassmen to start prep for the 2021 season. Hopefully the outlook of the virus will be much better by the time spring practice rolls around.
One could argue the benefits of a bowl game in a pandemic season as nothing but a vehicle to create more television revenue in an already cash-strapped year, and you’d be right. But I think there were definitely guys who were excited to play one more game this year and I’m sad they don’t get a chance. But overall, I don’t think that it’s the worst thing in the world that everyone has some time to rest and think after suffering through five-straight losses to end the season. It’s time to shift the focus to 2021.
Postseason awards and honors have started to float in and K-State has a handful. Running back Deuce Vaughn was named Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year by conference coaches. Vaughn is the second Wildcat to be given the honor after Tyler Lockett in 2011. He holds four freshman records in the program and was first in the nation among freshmen in yards from scrimmage. He was also fifth among freshmen in all-purpose yards and he didn’t start returning kicks until late in the season so that definitely tells you something.
Deuce was also a finalist for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, one of 13 and the only freshman. The award is for the top offensive player in the country who was either born in Texas, graduated high school in Texas or attended a Texas junior college or four-year university. Only four freshmen have been semifinalists in the eight-year history of the award.
Vaughn also earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors but two other Wildcats earned first team honors — junior defensive end Wyatt Hubert and sophomore kick and punt returner Phillip Brooks. Hubert, who announced early this week that he’s entering the NFL Draft, was the only unanimous pick among the first team defense.
Aside from Vaughn, senior tight end Briley Moore (who was honored under the fullback spot) and senior offensive lineman Noah Johnson earned second team honors and kicker Blake Lynch, safety Jahron McPherson, linebacker Elijah Sullivan and defensive tackle Drew Wiley were honorable mentions.
On Wednesday, K-State wrapped up the early signing period with 14 new signees and two blueshirts. (Blueshirts are players who don’t count toward the 25 scholarship count for the class because they weren’t technically recruited according to NCAA rules. Blueshirts join the team on scholarship on the first day of practice and are a part of their class but it’s just a fun little loophole that coaches can use on kids who are usually located pretty close to campus and express a pretty strong desire to join the program so the school doesn’t have to invest resources in official or in-home visits. The two blueshirts that signed on Thursday were Manhattan High’s Damien Ilalio and Topeka-Hayden’s Desmond Purnell.) For more insights on the class and reactions from the Bring on the Cats staff, check out this special edition of Bring on the PodCats and our own Drew Schneider wrote up a wrap up over the offensive players signed on Wednesday. K-State Sports also put out an article which lists the full class and has quotes from head coach Chris Klieman’s press conference along with some fun videos.
Lastly, on Thursday it was announced that back-up quarterback Nick Ast entered the transfer portal. Ast got limited playing time this season and was passed over by freshman Will Howard for the starting job when senior Skylar Thompson was injured early this season.
The K-State women are on a roll now that they’re all nice and healthy. After demolishing a decent UMKC team, they head straight into Big 12 play tonight versus Iowa State at 6 p.m. for their Big 12 opener. The Cyclones were ranked as recently as last week and are still receiving votes in both polls so it most definitely will be a tough one. You can watch the game on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
K-State also announced finalized times for the home schedule for the rest of the season. K-State Sports has it all laid out here if you want to take a look.
Starting Saturday, the Cats have two games in three days. On Saturday, they welcome second-ranked big-bad Baylor in Bramlage before hosting Jacksonville on Monday. Both games will be on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ with the Baylor game tipping off at 3 p.m. and Jacksonville tipping at 1 p.m.