Only two items comprise today’s rundown of K-State news. First, the bad news:
The number of experienced football players who were supposed to be in Manhattan next fall but won’t be has now increased to double digits.
Running back Dalvin Warmack and wide receiver Dominique Heath, along with reserve offensive lineman Breontae Matthews, all announced yesterday via social media that they’d be graduating in May and finishing their careers elsewhere. Kellis Robinett of the Star and Eagle has a good report on the transfers.
Warmack, the final leg of the heralded Blue Springs Three, joined his fellow BSHS Wildcats in departing early. He was, perhaps, a victim of underuse for whatever reason; early in his career he was stuck behind Charles Jones, and later the opportunities most fans expected him to get where absorbed by Alex Barnes and Justin Silmon.
Heath, on the other hand, played his way into a starting role relatively early in his Wildcat career. In his junior campaign, however, his usage plummeted. Part of this was likely a result of the injury to Jesse Ertz, for whom Heath was a favored target. The emergence of Dalton Schoen, the improvement of Isaiah Zuber, and the mere presence of Byron Pringle limited Heath’s opportunities in 2017, and he actually posted his worst season as a Wildcat.
On one hand, these transfers can be chalked up to a desire to get more playing time as seniors. Barnes and Silmon are going to get the carries in 2018, and even with Pringle’s departure for the NFL the top two returning receivers will be Zuber and Schoen.
On the other hand, the temptation to look for other reasons looms. While the changes in the coaching staff are technically superficial on the offensive side of the ball, the sheer number of departures raises questions. It’s easy to speculate that all the departing receivers (including Carlos Strickland, also transferring) were either told they weren’t going to be primary parts of the plan going forward, or due to their relationships with the new staff clearly saw the writing on the wall.
Regardless, this is a blow to the depth of the offense. Barnes has not been able to stay healthy for a full season yet, and while the Wildcats do return four experienced receivers in 2018, the jury is still out on whether Isaiah Harris and Zach Reuter can become serious threats. K-State is going to have to depend on incoming talent to provide depth behind the returning starters.
The big issue for K-State now, however, is in the return game. The three top kick returners for the Wildcats are now gone, so it will be very interesting to see who steps into the role this season.
The only other item for today’s Slate, on the other hand, is a very good one. Yesterday, undefeated Washington State paid a visit to Body First Indoor Tennis Center and promptly took a 3-1 lead over the Wildcats. After winning the doubles point 2-1, K-State dropped all three of the top three singles matches as Margot Decker, Rosanna Maffei, and Maria Linares all fell to their Cougar counterparts.
But the bottom half of the lineup came up huge. Carolina Costamagna ripped off a two-set win over Aneta Miksovska, and then — after dropping the first set 6-0 — Anna Turco tied the series at three by taking the final two sets 6-2, 6-3. Ines Mesquita then put in a heroic performance. After losing the first set 6-4, she fought her way into a second set tiebreaker, scoring the final six points to force the third and final set. That set also went to extras, with Mesquita scoring a thrilling 7-5 win which sealed the match and the victory over the visiting Cougars (7-1, 0-0 Pac-12).
The big win improves K-State to 4-1 on the season. They’ll head to Boulder next Sunday to take on former rivals Colorado.