On October 23rd, Kansas State received a commitment from three star defensive back Bryce Balous of McKinney, TX.
October 23, 2014
Four days later Alex Barnes, a three star athlete from Pittsburg, KS, also committed to play for Bill Snyder and the Wildcats.
I've found the school that's right for me and that school is Kansas State University! #EMAW #GoCats— Alex Barnes (@Alex_Barnes34) October 27, 2014
Scout.com, 247sports.com and ESPN.com all have Bryce Balous rated as a three star prospect, while Rivals.com has him listed as a two star. Why Rivals is the only service listing him as a two star is unknown to me, especially considering Balous' elite speed. According to his Scout.com page Balous ran the fastest 40 time, 4.39 seconds, at the May 3rd Nike Football SPARQ Combine held at AT&T Stadium. This flash-like speed clearly stood out as Balous had interest from schools like Georgia and Nebraska, while holding offers from Iowa, Nevada, Texas Tech, and Arkansas State.
According to ESPN's Insider Scouting Report ($) Balous' biggest weakness is his propensity to take a flase step prior to committing to a play. At the high school level this false step is masked by his speed, which allows him to overcome this hesitation. You can see in the Hudl video below what I am referencing, especially in his run support. I expect he will red shirt his first season while he puts on some weight, and studies film before becoming a solid contributor as a corner.
You can find more video of Bryce Balous at Hudl.com
ESPN.com and 247sports.com have Barnes listed as a three star athlete, while Scout.com and Rivals.com have him listed as a two star running back. Prior to committing to Kansas State, Barnes had interest from power five teams Michigan, Nebraska, and Arkansas. He also had official offers from: Kansas, Minnesota, and Rutgers. His commitment gives the Wildcats five in-state commits, four of which also held offers from Kansas. This is huge for Kansas State to be able to beat out other Big 12 schools, and more specifically Kansas, for in-state recruits.
With Kalin Heath's commitment earlier this year, Barnes projects as a defensive back once he steps onto the field for the Wildcats. You can see a theme building in this class where Bill Snyder is targeting fast, athletic kids that the coaching staff can mold into defensive backs. ESPN's Insider Scouting Report($) simply raves about his running ability noting that Barnes has "carry the load potential at the Power Conference level of competition." If Barnes does end up staying at running back he and Heath could produce a lethal one-two running back punch.
You can see in the Hudl video below exactly what ESPN is referring to when they talk about his ability to carry the load. Barnes showcases his elite speed in multiple highlights as well as his ability to make defenders miss, or simply run them over.
The two highlights that stood out to me were his defensive highlights early in the video. In this first, you see Barnes stay with the play through the whistle, forcing and then recovering a fumble and returning it for a touchdown. On the second highlight, Barnes come from across the field to deliver a punishing hit on the ball carrier along the opposite side-line.
As I mentioned above these two recruits both show a theme I have noticed in the 2015 class, speed. Most of the skill position players showcase sub 4.5 speed in the 40, allowing the coaching staff to convert these athletes into a secondary which will have the ability to counter the faster than light receivers that they see in the Big 12. The other benefit to recruiting these fast, athletic, prep athletes is over time it helps build depth. That way if a first line player goes down the drop off in talent between the first and second string units is not a huge gap. Overall, these two recruits should help provide much needed speed in Kansas State's secondary in the coming years.