At the risk of sounding like one of those really terrible insurance or estate planning commercials, have you, Kansas State fan, thought about your future? Have you considered what your Wildcats football team would look like if the unthinkable were to happen? Of course some of you have; I’ve read your tweets.
This season’s future would take on a much different feel if Collin Klein were to come up unavailable. Some of you think it would be a blessing in disguise, as an electric 46-yard touchdown run against outmatched Missouri State was all it took for you to champion the backup’s time is now cause. While I think those who do believe that are out of their minds, there’s no questioning redshirt Daniel Sams’ speed.
Kid is faster than a mainline hit. And, right now, Sams is feeling the same confident, contented high as someone who did the injection. That’s what a few good plays will do for a guy who had been chomping at the bit to get back into a game after sitting out his first year.
You can’t help but wonder how much of Sams’ presence might – and, I’m not saying it did – have played into quickly forgotten Tay Bender’s very late, very strange decision to leave the school, and the state altogether, after putting forth the effort to get to K-State early in the spring and stay through most of the summer. I wonder because what we saw last Saturday, that’s what Sams’ coaches and teammates saw when he was on the scout team last season and running in drills through the spring and summer.
“I’ve been waiting just for Coach [Snyder] to call my name,” Sams said. “He always preaches that you’re just one play away, one ankle sprain away. So, I just kept telling myself that my time would come.”
On the play that will at worst help feed the legend and at best be a part of his future legendary KSU career, Sams said he knew instantly he had a shot to break away.
“I said, ‘Yeah, this is mine, I don’t see nobody else,’” Sams said “I said, ‘This is big.’”
Less than an hour after it had happened, Sams stood in a suit and tie with reporters and attempted to soak in all of the firsts of his night – first game, first plays, first touchdown, first postgame interviews and first deluge of support and congratulations from fans and family online and on his phone.
“I got a lot of messages on Twitter,” Sams said. “I didn’t really read them. I just saw the notifications – at least 40. So, that was a shocker.”
That kind of stuff, it needs to settle in, like, yesterday. But, that’s only if you believe in that “I could be in the next play” stuff. If Sams has the rest of the season (and it would be in his and the team’s favor to have it), then it won’t matter. But, those who know football know there’s no way of knowing what lies at the end of each game, or even each play for that matter.
Say Sams’ services are pressed into action. A Top 25 team with aspirations of repeating a great year can’t have its one-play-from-starting quarterback wowed by attention or by an infamously tough playbook. According to Sams, only one of those things has been an issue.
“As far as playbook-wise, I know that in-and-out,” Sams said. “But, I’m trying to get to how Collin checks out of stuff that won’t work. I’m trying to get to that point. With the clock being on your back, telling the line their protection, getting the receivers right – I’m still trying to get to that point as far as practice.”
Homework obviously doesn’t stop during the game.
“Coach has got me on the headset, so I usually hear the play first, and I look at the coverage,” Sams said. “Then I say, ‘okay, maybe [Klein's] going to check to this,’ Sometimes, I was right. And, sometimes, he checked to something better.
“I usually check to correct stuff, but he would check to a bigger play, something where I’m like, ‘wow, that did work.’ I want to get to that point.”
If and when Sams eventually gets to Klein’s level, he will owe a large part of that to his predecessor, who Sams all but labeled a coach.
“I joke with Coach [Del] Miller sometimes, ‘Does Collin know more than you?’” Sams said. “He knows how the defense is going to line up before they do. I normally look at corners for coverage, and he looks at linemen.
“I still don’t know how he does that, yet, so he’s been a tremendous help.”