If the first Big 12 Coaches teleconference was at all sleepy as it slogged through late-arriving coaches, cliches, position battles and generally easy opening weekend games, that changed when Kansas State’s Bill Snyder, normally the sleepiest of the sleepy, dropped a roster bomb.
Freshman quarterback Tavarius Bender, the top-rated player out of the state of Nebraska in the 2012 class and someone who had earned extremely high praise from coaches in the spring, is no longer a part of the Wildcats football program.
Saying that Bender had dropped out of the program, Snyder’s words brought an abrupt halt to what had appeared to be a quieting saga. After arriving on campus early last year to get a jump on his KSU career, Bender rocketed to what what was believed to be the No. 2 slot on the depth chart behind starter Collin Klein. Coaches talked about Bender’s ability to grasp a usually daunting playbook, while fans raved about his 6-3, 208-lb. frame that ran a reported 4.47 40-yard dash.
Even most of the summer was quiet before rumor began to swirl that Bender had quit the program. Even then, Bender appeared on the sidelines at Fan Appreciation Day, leaving most to believe he was at least in line for a redshirt while any issues were sorted out. That all came to a close on Monday morning.
While it means redshirt freshman Daniel Sams, a talented athlete in his own right, is now the clear-cut No. 2, the big picture is that K-State, on one hand, is a team trying to catapult off an unlikely 10-win season in 2011 into something similar in 2012; while on the other, it is now one major hit on Klein from having a freshman and Topeka sophomore Sam Johnson (5-11, 215) likely rotating at the position based on their performances.
While Missouri State didn’t pose much threat this Saturday to begin with, the best scenario for K-State now is for the offense to take care of business as early as possible and build a lead sizable enough that reserves across the board can get legitimate playing time. While that would have been the goal anyways, Sams and Johnson arguably need that time more than anyone else on the two and three-deep.