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SLATE: Passing of a Legend

K-State trailblazer and football legend Veryl Switzer passed away this weekend. There’s also been some other stuff since we last got caught up.

Photo courtesy K-State Athletics

Veryl Switzer

A charter member of the Kansas State Athletics Hall of Fame (1990) and K-State Football Ring of Honor (2002), former Wildcat halfback Veryl Switzer passed away on Saturday at the age of 89. Switzer, a native of Nicodemus, KS, joined the Wildcats in 1950 as the first scholarship black football player at both K-State and the Big 7/8 conference. After helping to break the color barrier in the Big 7 conference, he went on to earn Second Team All-American honors in 1951 at cornerback and in 1952 at running back, before capturing First Team All-American honors in 1953 at running back, becoming K-State’s first 3-time All-American.

He was selected with the 4th-overall pick by the Green Bay Packers in the 1954 NFL Draft, and he still holds the mark for earliest selection. He played just two seasons for the Packers before leaving professional football to enter the U.S. Air Force as a first lieutenant, where he served for two years before returning to football in the Canadian Football League for a three year run.

Switzer then moved out of professional football, spending a decade working for the Chicago Board of Education before returning to Manhattan and K-State in an administrative capacity, where many of the programs he helped start as part of K-State’s first university-wide student minority program are still active today.

Football

Staying on the football side of things, the Wildcats are still in the running for two future Sunflower State stars, with both quarterback Avery Johnson of Maize and running back Dylan Edwards of Derby still keeping the Cats in consideration.

For Johnson, a 4-star QB who has earned offers from all over the country and has made the Elite 11 Finals as one of the best young QBs in the nation, the Wildcats have remained constant throughout his process and are one of three schools (with Washington and Oregon) he is “officially” visiting in the first part of June before he makes his final decision at the end of the month. Johnson, as a junior, led Maize to the 5A state championship game, and made a big splash during the season by upsetting eventual 6A state runner-up Derby. Johnson’s big draw is Collin Klein, and of course the former K-State star’s promotion to offensive coordinator has only helped the recruiting process.

Edwards, a 3-star running back who has also earned offers from all over the country, is a K-State legacy, and that has helped keep the Wildcats in the hunt against Oklahoma, as well as a strong push from Deon Sander’s NIL powerhouse Jackson State among others that total a group of 10 that he posted as “finalists” on his social media. While Johnson’s recruitment has been fairly straight-foward (as these things go), Edwards has been much more mercurial. In the early spring, it was thought that Edwards was a lock for OU, and would commit when offered on a visit there. But he left Norman without pledging to the Sooners, and continues to keep his leanings close to the vest despite pressure from coaches and fanbases to make a decision. Dylan’s father Leon played for Bill Snyder from 1992-1994, where he was also a teammate of new OU head coach Brent Venables.

Basketball

Jerome Tang continues to slowly add parts to the new-look K-State roster, signing Virginia Tech transfer forward David N’Guessan last week. N’Guessan (pronounced Guh-SAHN) played two seasons for the Hokies, starting in 2020, so has three years of eligibility remaining if he chooses to use his covid year. He didn’t fill up the state sheet for VaTech, but did play in all 36 games last season, including the Hokies run to win the ACC Tournament title. N’Guessan is a native of The Netherlands, but played at Mt. Zion Prep in Baltimore before heading to college. He becomes the sixth newcomer to K-State’s roster for the 2022-23 season, a roster that now sits at 8 scholarship athletes.

The Big 12 Conference and the Kansas City Sports Commission have announced a two-year extension on the agreement to host the Big 12 Basketball Championships in Kansas City, MO, with the men’s tournament continuing to be hosted at the T-Mobile Center and the women’s tournament at the venerable Municipal Auditorium. With the extension, the championships will remain in KC through at least the completion of the 2027 season.

Season tickets go on sale today for both men’s and women’s basketball, so get them before they’re gone!

Track & Field

The Wildcats head out to Eugene, OR this week for the 2022 NCAA Outdoor Championships with ten individuals and two relay teams to represent K-State. Eight of those individuals and both relays earned their spots by hitting qualifying marks at last week’s NCAA West Prelims. That total includes five women (fifth-year seniors Tommi Hintnaus and Wurrie Njadoe, juniors Kassidy Johnson and Shalysa Wray, and freshman Velecia Williams) and three men (fifth-year seniors Tejaswin Shankar and Kyle Alcine, and sophomore Kade McCall), as well as the men’s and women’s 4x400-meter relay teams. The other two came from qualifying marks hit at the 2022 Big 12 Championships, as freshman Emil Uhlin and junior Urte Bacianskaite qualified for the decathlon and heptathlon, respectively. Multiple schools records were set at the West Prelims, including the men’s 4x400 and women’s 100m & 800m. #HighJumpU returned to the stage as well, with Shankar tying for 1st in the event and Alcine just a height-mark behind.

The 2022 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships will take place at Hayward Field with the first event being the 100-meters of the men’s decathlon at 12:30pm PT/2:30pm CT on Wednesday (June 8). Most of the events should be available on an ESPN platform.