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Key players to lead Kansas State to another Big 12 championship


Kansas State Wildcats Helmet

Kansas State is your defending Big 12 Champions for the 2023 football season. The preseason rankings from 2022 had K-State picked fifth out of ten teams. They finished 2022 in second place in the regular season standings. The Wildcats then moved on to Dallas to upset the TCU Horned Frogs in an overtime thriller. Many other publications around the country expect K-State to be in the running again to win the Big 12. These returning players and newcomers are the guys K-State needs to play at a high level to put themselves back in contention to make it back to Dallas, TX, and a New Year's Six Bowl for a second straight season.


Will Howard, Senior Quarterback, Downingtown, PA

As a Freshman and Sophomore at Kansas State, Will Howard was thrown into the fire thanks to injuries to unfortunate starter Skylar Thompson. With the unexpected pressure thrown on Howard those two years, he had some growing pains with a touchdown-to-interception ratio that was 9:11 for those two seasons. Howard also had seven rushing touchdowns over that same time span.


Coming into 2022, the plans for Will Howard were to redshirt behind seasoned veteran Adrian Martinez who transferred to K-State from Nebraska. An injury to Martinez threw Howard into the fire again! This go-around, however, was completely different! Howard came out with a whole new confidence, and it showed through his performance on the field. He threw for 1633 yards, 15 touchdowns, only 4 interceptions, a 59.8 completion percentage, and included three rushing touchdowns to go with it. He was the quarterback for the Big XII Championship game, leading the Wildcats to their first outright title since 2003. If Howard continues to develop as he did for the 2022 season, expect big things for him and the K-State offense.


Ben Sinnott, Junior Tight End, Waterloo, IA

Ben Sinnott had started his career at K-State in the fullback position. In 2022 he switched to tight end and quickly blossomed in that role.


The game on the road in Norman, Oklahoma, proved to the K-State nation his value of having four catches for 80 yards and helping Kansas State win against Oklahoma. Later in the season, he scored his first and second career touchdowns against Baylor in another stellar performance. He finished the season with 31 catches, 447 yards, and four touchdowns.


K-State will depend on him to make tough catches and pick up tough yards when needed. If Sinnott can continue to build on the 2022 season, it will only mean great things for the offense in Manhattan.

Cooper Beebe, Senior Offensive Line, Kansas City, KS

It could have been argued for all the big guys on the offensive line to be listed. K-State is one of the few schools in the country with all five starters coming back.


Cooper Beebe is the leader of the offensive line, playing in 35 games in his career. Playing at the guard position and filling in at left tackle when needed, he has not given up a sack in 803 pass attempts dating back to the contest against Iowa State in 2020. The only penalty against him in the 2022 offensive line leader happened in the opening game against South Dakota.


Beebe was voted the 2022 Big 12 offensive lineman of the year by the coaches in the conference. If Beebe and the other four guys up front can continue to improve, the Kansas State offense should have plenty of running lanes and the time to complete passes.


Treshaun Ward, Senior Running Back, Plant City, FL (Florida State Transfer)

Ward was rated a four-star transfer, according to 247sports.com. While at Florida State in 2022, he played in 10 games, having 95 carries for 628 yards and seven touchdowns. Ward also had six catches for 18 yards. In 2021, his rushing stats were comparable, but he had 22 catches for 185 yards and a touchdown.


Coming to Kansas State, he has some big shoes to fill replacing Deuce Vaughn. His film shows some explosiveness that I believe will, be seen behind this veteran offensive line. DJ Giddens is also a serviceable running back, which will take some of the load off Ward when needed to keep him fresher, down the stretch.

Keagan Johnson, Sophomore Wide Receiver, Bellevue, NE (Iowa Transfer)

Rated a four-star transfer according to 247sports.com, Keagan Johnson had a solid freshman season for the Hawkeyes, grabbing 18 catches for 352 yards and two touchdowns. In 2022, he was the lead returning wide receiver for Iowa. However, he only made it to his second game, where an injury ended his season.


Kansas State lost two of their top three receivers from 2022, so the Kansas State offense will depend on Johnson and Phillip Brooks to lead the way in the passing game. With a healthy Daniel Green and a seasoned Austin Moore as Offensive Coordinator, Collin Klein said that “Keagan is ahead of the curve” after spring practice. This is a good sign he should fit right into his role on his new team.

Daniel Green, Senior Linebacker, Portland, OR

In 2021, Daniel Green had his breakout season for K-State. Racking up 89 tackles and three sacks during the 2021 campaign. The 2022 season looks like Green took a step back with 58 tackles and two sacks and added his first two picks at Kansas State.


Leading up to the Sugar Bowl against Alabama, Defensive Coordinator Joe Klanderman mentioned Green had been battling injuries to his foot and midsection most of the season. The injuries were enough to make Green miss most practices and one game during the season.


Green decided to come back to Kansas State to have one more run with the Wildcats and remain injury free. It is expected he will be back to 2021 form and put up big numbers again to lead the Wildcat defense.

Austin Moore, Senior Linebacker, Louisburg, KS

The 2022 season was Austin Moore’s breakout season in Manhattan. He led the team in tackles with 87 while adding on one and a half sacks, ten tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and one interception. He joined K-State as a walk-on and ended the 2022 season with an All-Big XII honorable mention voted on by the coaches.


Moore became a leader on the field with a hobbled Daniel Green, leading by his example of a strong work ethic and take-no-prisoners attitude. With a healthy Daniel Green and a seasoned Austin Moore, Kansas State will be very strong in the linebacking corps.


Kobe Savage, Senior Safety, Paris, TX

Savage came to Manhattan, Kansas in 2022 as a junior college transfer from Tyler Junior College. He quickly became a vital part of the Kansas State secondary. Savage totaled 58 tackles, with three of those for a loss, three picks, and one forced fumble. Sadly, he only made it through ten games before going down with an injury. This left a void in the Kansas State secondary. After that injury, Savage didn’t recover in time to play any more games in 2022.


With many new faces in the secondary, Savage will have to take on a bigger leadership role, which I think he will be ready for. With the way he flies around the field, Savage will make plenty of highlight plays for K-State! This will keep the defense playing with energy and keep the K-State fanatics excited.

Marques Sigle, Junior Safety, Omaha, NE (North Dakota State Transfer)

Sigle is rated as a three-star transfer, according to 247sports.com. While at North Dakota State, Marques Sigle played in eleven games and had 27 tackles, one sack, two pass deflections, and two picks.


The 2021 version of Sigle had 23 tackles, one forced fumble, one interception, and five pass deflections. He was named to the 2021 Missouri Valley Conference All-Newcomer Team.


With Josh Hayes and Drake Cheatum graduating from Kansas State. the safety position is wide open, and a player like Sigle, with multiple years of experience, is poised to get significant playing time in the 2023 season.


William Lee, Sophomore Cornerback, Kirkwood, MO (Iowa Western CC Transfer)

247sports.com rated Will Lee as a three-star recruit. In his freshman season at Iowa Western, Lee had 34 tackles, one interception, and 10 passes defended in only 12 games. He came up big in the semi-finals with a pick-six. In the national championship game, Lee had six tackles, and three passes defended, helping Iowa Western win the Junior College National Championship. Lee was named NJCAA First Team All-American as a freshman as well. He should be a great fit in a completely different Kansas State secondary.


Kansas State's Push For Consecutive Big XII Titles

These are the players I see as assets for K-State to make a push toward another Big XII conference championship game. Of course, other team members will have to make plays, and hopefully, there will be some other surprises on the roster to help Chris Klieman and the team out.


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