clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2022 Kansas State Football Preview: Special Teams

Pretty much nothing changes from 2021 at Special Teams U.

Ty Zentner’s been here so long Sean Snyder coached him.
Ty Zentner’s been here so long Sean Snyder coached him.
Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

If there is a unit on the 2022 Kansas State football team that does not have at least some uncertainty swirling around it, it is special teams. Any lingering questions were emphatically answered during the 2021 season.

2022 should be more of the same, especially in the return game. Since 2005, the Wildcats have scored 58 times on returns, leaving the rest of the FBS in the dust; last year, Kansas State was the only team to notch a punt return score in the Big 12.

In other words, yes, Kansas State is still very much #SpecialTeamsU.

The Returners

Malik Knowles was the big star in the return game last year, a season in which he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, finished fourth in the nation in return yards, and scored a first team All-Big 12 nod too.

He’s joined in the return game by Phillip Brooks, who famously housed two punts in a single game against Kansas in 2020. He was less productive in 2021, but still returned a punt for a touchdown against West Virginia. He has three punt return scores in his career so far, and could certainly add to that number.

As always, and as Chris Klieman further emphasized in a press conference, players from all over the two-deep will show up on special teams and especially as a wall of blockers on kickoff and punt returns.

The Kickers

Sophomore Chris Tennant took over placekicking duties halfway through the 2021 season. He was perfect on extra points (16/16); slightly less so in field goals (5/8). With several games now under his belt though, Tennant will only get better.

Ty Zentner, now a super-senior, will continue to handle kickoffs in 2022. He’s also the team’s starting punter, and averaged 43.7 yards/punt last season. He’s proven valuable in flipping the field with his leg. Indeed, it was a booming 63-yard punt from Zentner that pinned Texas Tech inside the 5 and keyed Kansas State’s furious come back against the Red Raiders last year.

Just like last season, Zentner’s name shows up a few more times on the special teams depth chart. Notably, he is the backup at both placekicker and holder, so should things shake out in a particular way (i.e. both Tennant and holder Jake Blumer are unavailable), Zentner could find himself in the unprecedented situation of lining up to kick a field goal while holding for himself. If that doesn’t win the guy Holder of the Year, I don’t know what does! (Yes, we’re joking.)

Rounding out the special teams roster for 2022 is senior long snapper Randen Plattner with Mason Olguin, a transfer from Dodge City CC, as his backup.