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.
Goal No. 1: COMMITMENT. To common goals and to being successful.
Redshirt Senior | 6-0 | 184 lbs. | Lawrence, Kansas
- Position: Cornerback
- Previous College: None
- Projection: Second-String
- Status: On Scholarship
Keenan Jae Garber (b. July 22, 2000) was a promising wide receiver who converted to cornerback late in the 2022 season and was almost immediately thrown into the fire.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Kansas State in May, while he currently is working on his minor in psychology.
Garber played in one game in 2019 — seeing action against his “hometown university,” Kansas — as he preserved his redshirt. He then saw playing time in six games in 2020, including three of the final four contests of the pandemic-shortened season.
That season, Garber had receptions in two games, including a 9-yard catch against Kansas.
He also had a 4-yard rush on a jet sweep against Oklahoma State and finished as a second-team Academic All-Big 12 performer.
Garber saw time in 12 games in 2021, setting career high in catches (4) and yards (72).
He tallied a career-long reception of 54 yards against Oklahoma and also hauled in two catches for 13 yards at Kansas.
Garber played in all 14 games during the 2022 Big 12 Championship season, beginning the year as a reserve wide receiver before seeing significant action as a cornerback at the end of the year while also contributing on special teams throughout the entire season.
He was pressed into action at cornerback in the Big 12 Championship game against TCU due to other injured players, playing 21 defensive snaps and carding his first career tackle.
With a full offseason under his belt, coaches anticipate Garber will perform even better at the position during his senior year. He enters the season as the top reserve at the position.
“Here’s a guy who played wide receiver, and toward the end of the latter part of the year decided it wasn’t working out for him and he wanted to try something different,” said assistant head coach and cornerbacks coach Van Malone.
“He spent a few weeks on scout team and with me in individual meetings trying to learn the position, and the next thing you know, he’s in the (Big 12) championship game. It’s a really cool story of a guy who got an opportunity and made the most of it.”
A three-year letter-winner for Free State High School in Lawrence under coach Bob Lisher, Garber helped the Firebirds to earn a 10-1 record and league championship each season.
He was named an ESPN 300 recruit, the 23rd-best athlete in the nation and the third-best player in the state of Kansas in the Class of 2019 by ESPN, while Rivals and 247Sports each ranked him as the fourth-best player in the state.
Garber was named a first-team all-state performer by The Topeka Capital-Journal, The Wichita Eagle and Kansas Football Coaches Association in 2018, and also was named to the USA TODAY Sports/American Family Insurance All-USA Kansas team as a defensive back.
USA Today described Garber as a “Swiss Army knife player — play him anywhere on offense, just get him the ball” and accurately indicated he would play early due to his athleticism.
He earned honorable mention accolades from The Wichita Eagle in 2017 and was a 2018 Otis Taylor Award finalist as the most outstanding wide receiver in the Kansas City area.
Garber also was named a 2018 first-team All-Simone performer as one of the top prep players in the Kansas City area after he carded 814 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior, while also recording four interceptions, including two he returned for touchdowns.
He was selected to play in the 2019 Kansas Shrine Bowl and was a high school teammate of former Kansas State fullback Jax Dineen.
Garber selected K-State over offers from Illinois State, Indiana State, Kansas, Missouri State, North Dakota, North Dakota State, Northern Iowa, South Dakota, South Dakota State, Southern Illinois, Tulane, Western Illinois and Wyoming, plus interest from Wisconsin.
His primary recruiter was former Snyder 2.0-era offensive coordinator Andre Coleman.
Ironically, much of K-State’s current coaching staff came to Manhattan from North Dakota State and Wyoming, two schools Garber also was considering out of high school.