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87 DAYS TO 2021 KICKOFF: Nick Lenners

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In which BracketCat counts down the 87th day until the 2021 kickoff with a profile of Kansas State tight end Nick Lenners.

#87 Nick Lenners
With the arrival of heralded transfer Briley Moore, Nick Lenners (87) took a step back in 2020 with pass-catching duties but more than made up for it with his blocking as a fullback and tight end. Now he’ll have to hold off Daniel Imatorbhebhe in 2021.
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

NOTE: Kansas State has elected to advance players’ classification even though the 2020 season did not affect eligibility. Those who wish to take advantage of this extra year will be listed as a (“super”) senior again after their original eligibility would have been exhausted.

#87 Nick Lenners

Redshirt Senior | 6-5 | 250 lbs. | Lincoln, Nebraska
Nick Lenners
Nick Lenners
Courtesy Kansas State Athletics
  • Position: Tight End
  • Previous College: None
  • Projection: Co-Starter
  • Status: On Scholarship

Nicholas Renken Lenners (b. June 30, 1997) is a highly experienced and veteran tight end who redshirted during the 2016 season and also lined up at fullback as a redshirt freshman.

He contributed heavily in both positions as a redshirt sophomore and in 2020, and seems likely to continue in both roles in 2021 even as he battles for starting duties at tight end.

In 2017, Lenners played in 12 games, primarily on special teams and as a blocker at both tight end and fullback. He helped the K-State offense to rank third in school history in rushing yards per carry (4.98) and seventh in total rushing yards (2,584).

Lenners’ budding career hit a snag in 2018, though. He started the season opener against South Dakota, but suffered a season-ending injury and missed the rest of the year. Luckily, he later received a medical hardship for the year and gained back his lost year of eligibility.

Lenners played in all 13 games in 2019, drawing four starts and earning first-team All-Big 12 honors from the league’s coaches as a fullback even as he tallied 13 catches for 163 yards and a touchdown.

Lenners had the most catches by a K-State fullback or tight end since Zach Trujillo logged 19 in 2014, while his receiving yards were the most for either position since Winston Dimel had 261 yards in 2015. He scored his first career touchdown on a 21-yard catch against TCU.

Lenners helped to lead the way for a team effort of 178 rushing yards per game, which ranked fourth in the Big 12, while he also was a part of helping the Wildcats to score 29 rushing touchdowns, the third most last season in the Big 12.

The arrival of heralded transfer Briley Moore, who ended up as one of the Wildcats’ best pass catchers, in 2020 led to fewer snaps and targets for Lenners, now a redshirt junior, but he took it in stride and contributed heavily as a pass-blocking tight end.

He played in nine games, with starts against Arkansas State, Oklahoma State and Baylor.

A valuable member of the blocking unit who helped the Wildcats to rank fourth in the nation in red zone offense (93.9 percent), Lenners still had three catches on the year, including an 8-yard reception at West Virginia.

He enters 2021 as a “super senior” of a different sort (which means he might even be able to come back in 2022 as an “ultra senior” by using the pandemic eligibility rule, I suppose).

Even though Daniel Imatorbhebhe is the popular choice to replace Moore’s production, his injury and transfer history at least opens the door for Lenners to reclaim No. 1 tight end duties. At worst, he’ll likely be the other starting tight end in any two-tight-end sets we run.

A three-year letter-winner for Lincoln High School Southwest under head coach Mark King, Lenners was rated the fourth-best player in Nebraska by both Rivals.com and ESPN, while the latter ranked him No. 26 nationally among all tight ends in the class of 2016.

He also earned first-team Super State and first-team Class A All-State honors from The Lincoln Journal-Star, and he was named to The Omaha World-Herald’s Super Six team, recognizing him as one of the top six prep players in Nebraska, prior to 2015.

That year, Lenners caught 18 passes for 357 yards and three touchdowns for the Silver Hawks as a senior while recording 40 tackles, including 13 for loss.

He also caught six passes for 60 yards and a touchdown in addition to recording 71 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, and eight sacks as a junior.

Lenners was selected to the USA Today Sports/American Family Insurance All-USA Nebraska Team as a senior.

He was a two-year Lincoln Journal-Star All-City team member, a two-year academic all-state and three-year academic all-conference selection, a two-year letter-winner in track and field, and a one-year letter-winner in basketball.

Academically, Lenners earned first-team Academic All-Big 12 accolades in 2019 and he graduated in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in business management. His additional year (or even two years) of eligibility should get him well on the way to a master’s degree.