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Kansas State Football Recruiting 2021: Gaven Haselhorst Commits!

The Wildcats landed a commitment from one of the hottest recruits in Kansas.

Kansas v Kansas State Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

Gaven Haselhorst, a 6’1, 230 pound athlete out of Hays, Kansas, gave his verbal commitment to Coach Klieman this morning.

What Gaven Brings to Kansas State

This is the class of the “athlete” for the Wildcats. The majority of players in the 2021 class play multiple positions in high school, and Haselhorst is no exception. Initially Haselhorst was thought to be a defensive end recruit. That, however, was dispelled by Derek Young from the Kansas State Rivals site in a free article. According to Young (who has excellent sources), Gaven will start his college football career at linebacker, and not defensive end.

This changes my entire evaluation.

As a defensive end, Haselhorst is a little undersized, and would need time to adjust to going against massive college offensive tackles.

As a 6’1, 230 pound linebacker, he comes in as a college sized linebacker from day one. According to Ryan Wallace of GoPowercat (the Kansas State 247 site) (link to free article), Gaven’s performance at the Sharp Performance Showcase in Salina cemented his scholarship offer to the Wildcat program. At the showcase, he put up an astounding 21 bench press reps at the NFL Combine standard 225 pounds, and then broke off a 4.56 hand-timed 40 yard dash for good measure.

To put his strength in perspective, at the 2020 NFL combine, 27 linebackers attempted the bench press event. Haselhorst’s 21 reps at 225 would be good for the 5th best bench press performance for all linebackers at the combine (tied with 7 other players). Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma’s 2019 First Team All-Big 12 linebacker and first round NFL draft selection by the San Diego Chargers, put up 21 reps at the combine.

It’s hard to compare 40 times because hand-timed 40s are notoriously unreliable, but his performance in the 40 was critical. Running somewhere in the 4.5-4.8 range showed the coaching staff that Gavin has the requisite speed to transition from his defensive end position in high school, to linebacker at K-State.

As a linebacker, he brings a physically mature thumper to the middle of the Wildcat defense. It may take a season or two for him to adjust mentally to the position, but physically, he’s good to go out of the box. If nothing else, he’ll make one heck of a special teams piece while he is getting it figured out at linebacker.

What This Commitment Means for Kansas State Recruiting

Haselhorst joins Davonte Pritchard as the second linebacker in the 2021 recruiting class. Haselhorst and Pritchard are an interesting linebacker tandem, and show you why Coach Klieman is regarding as one of the best talent evaluators in the nation. Pritchard is considered a safety by the major recruiting services — Klieman views him as an outside linebacker. Haselhorst isn’t ranked by any of the major recruiting services, but was considered a defensive line recruit by most. Klieman views him as a middle linebacker.

This is one way to beat the “stars” recruiting system.

Where some people see Pritchard as a big safety with questionable speed for the position in college; Klieman sees him as an outside linebacker with great speed for the position.

Where some people see Haselhorst as an undersized defensive end prospect; Klieman sees him as a middle linebacker.

You’re going to need to be a little creative when you recruit at Kansas State and I appreciate the coaching staff’s willingness to go out and find a player like Haselhorst. It won’t always work out, but it’s a risk you must take. This staff is confident in their ability to coach up the football part of the equation as long as the recruit has the requisite physical ability. I’m not sure about Gavin’s floor as a linebacker, but his athletic ability sets a high ceiling.

As an added bonus, Hays High School is a top priority for K-State in the 2022 class. Jaren Kanak and Gavin Meyers out of Hayes both have 2022 scholarships. Haselhorst earned a scholarship on his own merit, and this isn’t any sort of “package deal” but having a friendly face already on campus can only help the Wildcats with Kanak and Meyers.

Moving Forward

I’m not sure if Kansas State slow played Haselhorst in order to throw other teams off the trail, or if they legit landed him in a four-day recruiting blitz, but either way, I like how this played out. College football is a “follow the leader” business, and when you find an under the radar guy you like, you need to lock him up quickly, because he won’t be under the radar for long once you hand out an offer.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you see a few more guys come from “off the radar” to help fill out some of the 2021 class. Also, keep an eye on JuCo recruits. This is going to be a strange year for JuCo recruiting, with their season moved to the spring, but as of now, the Wildcats don’t have any JuCo guys on board in 2021.

That won’t last.