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Kansas State Football: Enter Daniel Imatorbhebhe

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Ohio State vs Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In a rather inconspicuous post on Twitter, Kansas State announced the arrival of grad transfer tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe to the program.

Imatorbhebhe has taken a winding route through the world of college football (more on that later) and will be a 7th year senior in 2021. He originally signed with Florida after starring at North Gwinnett High School in suburban Atlanta. After a semester in Gainesville, he decided to head west to USC to seek his fortune. He played three healthy seasons in Los Angeles, pulling in 25 receptions for 394 yards and four touchdowns. His 2018 and 2019 season were both wiped out by a series of lower body injuries. He graduated, and looked to finish his college career with a bang at Illinois. Last season he appeared in five games, grabbed three receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown. He lost three games in the shortened season to injuries and wasn’t 100% for several other games.

What He Brings to the Table

When he’s healthy, the 6’3, 240 pound tight end can be a solid receiving threat. He was a polished receiver coming out of high school, known more for his hands and route running ability than his athleticism (per 247). In theory, that’s what he can bring to the Wildcat offense next season. He’s a guy that can work the middle of the field and give Skylar Thompson a security blanket.

He’s not exactly a “good” blocker, but he’s willing enough, and K-State has other options at tight end for blocking. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him flex out from his tight end position into the slot on occasion to exploit a size match-up with a smaller slot corner. He’s more of a big wide receiver than a true tight end.

High School Highlights

Why is he on his 4th school?

This isn’t as weird as it sounds. He signed with Florida, but didn’t like playing under Jim McElwain. His younger brother Josh decided to sign with USC and he decided to play with his brother. His first two seasons in L.A. went well, but a mysterious lower body injury derailed his career. To make things worse, there was some sort of dispute with the USC training staff. He thought he could play, they weren’t comfortable putting him on the field. When his brother decided to grad transfer to Illinois, it made sense for Daniel to follow him to the Midwest and try to revive his career.

Josh led the Fighting Illini in receiving last year and decided to throw his name into the NFL draft. Lovie Smith got the boot and Daniel wasn’t sure where he stood with the new coaching staff. He has ties with Coach Tuiasosopo from his time at USC and that led him to Manhattan.

From everything I’ve read, he’s a good kid dealing with a string of frustrating injuries and bad luck. You certainly can’t blame him for wanting to finish his career off on a positive note after his injury struggles over the last few years. Happy endings are hard to come by in athletics, but we can hope that it all falls into place for him next season.

What it means for K-State

If he’s right, he could help fill the hole Briley Moore leaves at the tight end position. Skylar looks like he enjoys having a big, reliable target, and a pass catching tight end makes a ton of sense in Coach Messingham’s offense. Before adding Imatorbhebhe, the Wildcats were going to have to rely on Sammy Wheeler coming off his second major injury in two years and three untested freshmen. Now they’ll have an experienced hand at tight end. This is a one-year commitment, and if it doesn’t work out, or he gets injured again, no harm, no foul.

The coaching staff had a scholarship available and decided to roll the dice on a snake bitten, but talented player at a position of need.