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K-State Wildcats Ink 13 During 2022 Early Signing Period

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Courtesy of K-State Athletics

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman has announced the signing of 12 high school prospects and one community-college prospect during the early 2022 signing period on Wednesday.

Thus far, K-State’s Class of 2022 is comprised of seven players on defense and six on offense. There are four defensive backs, three offensive linemen, two apiece of linebacker and tight ends, and there is one defensive end and one wide receiver.

The state of Texas leads in terms of most from one state with three from the Lone Star State, while there are two apiece from Kansas, Georgia, Nebraska and Oklahoma. K-State has signed at least one player from the state of Georgia each of the last nine years as the Wildcats have inked a total of 22 from the Peach State during that time. The two Oklahoma players are the first signed by the Wildcats since 2018.

The Wildcats’ Sunflower State signees are Sterling Lockett and Tobi Osunsanmi. Lockett, a native of Leawood who attends Blue Valley High School, is the son of Kevin Lockett, who was a wide receiver for K-State from 1993 to 1996. His brother, Tyler, was a receiver for the Wildcats from 2011 to 2014 and is currently playing for the Seattle Seahawks. Osunsanmi is one of the top-ranked players in the nation while playing for Wichita East. He is ranked as the 229th-best overall player in the nation, the 20th-best linebacker and the second-best player in the state by 247Sports.

Kansas State will look to add more prospects to the Class of 2022 during the regular signing period, which opens on Wednesday, February 2.

K-STATE FOOTBALL SIGNING DAY PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES
CHRIS KLIEMAN, HEAD COACH
Opening Statement…
“Good afternoon everyone. Exciting day for Kansas State, an exciting day for a lot of young men and their families to sign with Kansas State. I’m going to go through the list of guys. We had three kids from Texas, two from Kansas, two from Georgia, two from Nebraska, two from Oklahoma, one from Colorado, and one from Pennsylvania. We didn’t have any surprises at all this morning. We knew we were going to sign 13 guys and all 13 of those young men signed early this morning. I got a chance to visit with them, and I know they’re excited about the opportunity to get started here with us.”

On Drake Bequeaith
“Offensive lineman from Colleyville, Texas and Grapevine High School. He came to camp and did a great job for Coach (Conor) Riley at camp. He’s a big offensive lineman and was very physical, really athletic. He’s got some ties to the Kansas City area, so he’s been over here a few times and came back for a game. We’re really excited about getting Drake here. We have really done a nice job with our offensive line and getting some more guys in our class.”

On Jake Clifton
“From Owasso High School in Owasso, Oklahoma. He came and visited us in the summer. Coached by Bill Blankenship, and a number of us have known Coach Blankenship for an awful long time. One of the icons in the profession. Jake is a really fast linebacker. He plays really well in space and will strike you. Really smart kid, and we were excited to continue to add depth to the linebacker room.”

On Jalen Klemm
“Offensive lineman from Pine-Richland High School in Pennsylvania, in Morris, Pennsylvania. Jalen is a coach’s kid. His dad is the offensive line coach for the Steelers. A very athletic, really smart, physical, big guy that is going to really help us in the offensive line. He came to Kansas State just on a visit just a couple of weeks ago. He was one that was selected for the US Army All-American game and was down there for his signing today and then goes back on January 8 for the game.”

On Sterling Lockett
“The next guy is a pretty familiar name in Sterling Lockett. We’re so excited to have Sterling here and continue the legacy of the Lockett family at Kansas State. His dad played here, his uncle played here, his brother played here. Tyler is with the Seahawks. Sterling came to camp and did a phenomenal job for us at camp. A really, really great route runner. Smooth, catches the ball really well. We’ll utilize him in the slot and just so excited to keep that tradition going with the Lockett family here and getting Sterling.”

On Brayden Loftin
“A tight end from Omaha, Nebraska and Lewis Central High School, which is in Iowa. He also came to camp. He’s a really rangy guy that you can flex out and put on the ball, play in space, he can really run well. They won a state championship this year. He was really instrumental there. We’re excited about Brayden as we continue to enhance the tight end room with big athletic guys that can run.”

On Colby McCalister
“Defensive Back from Clear Brook High School in Houston, Texas. Colby has been a three-year starter. A really physical corner, he knows the game really well and has tremendous speed. We look for him to be a leader already in the secondary, just a really mature kid and excited to have Colby joining us as well.”

On Garrett Oakley
“A tight end from Columbus, Nebraska. Garrett is also a player that came to camp. A really good athlete. Played on the ball, flexed out and created mismatches. Really excited to get  Garrett to join Brayden and upgrade that tight end group with athleticism and size and physicality and ability to run.”

On Tobi Osunsanmi
“Tobi is a linebacker from Wichita East High School in Wichita, Kansas. He came to camp, really excited us at camp and did a phenomenal job. His high school coach is Shaq Reed, who played here. Tobi is a long, really explosive, fast athlete that has that size already. Tobi is going to be a really big kid. He’s 6-foot-3, 210 (pounds) already, and he’ll be a 230-pound guy before you know it. Really excited to get a guy out of Wichita East High School.”

On John Pastore
“From Erie, Colorado, an offensive lineman. Another one that came to camp and did a great job for Coach Riley. He can play multiple positions. He’s a versatile guy. 6’6 and he’s close to 295 pounds already. He can play guard, he can play tackle, really good feet, really good hands, physical player. Excited to get John to join the program.”

On VJ Payne
“From Buford, Georgia and Buford High School. They just won the state championship down in Georgia. It’s a powerhouse program. VJ can do everything. He can play safety. He can play linebacker. He’ll blitz. He’ll cover runs and strikes people, plays all over the field. He came on a game visit. So excited to have VJ. They just won the state championship last weekend. Excited to have VJ join the program.”

On Jordan Perry
“Another guy from Georgia, from Jefferson High School in Georgia, Jordan Perry. Jordan is a 6-foot-2, 190-pound guy that we are going to play at safety. He played both ways in high school. He was a tremendous running back as well as defensive back. He was one of the guys that visited in the summer officially but then came back unofficially on his own for a game visit. A really talented athlete that can really run, will strike you, great speed. Excited about Jordan joining the program.”

On Donovan Rieman
“From Enid, Oklahoma, had a great senior year where he kind of came on the scene. I know we’d been talking to him for a while but just watching him flourish throughout his senior year. He had 15 tackles for loss, 10 sacks. He’s 6-foot-4, he’s close to 230 (pounds). Came for a game visit. Speed off the edge with really good hands. We’re excited because he’s a guy that we were on and we’re able to get here late in the season for a visit. He really enjoyed it, and he’s going to really help us on the defensive front.”

On Kobe Savage
“Defensive back from Paris, Texas, Tyler Junior College. Kobe visited us this past weekend. An extremely versatile safety. Can play man coverage, can tackle in space. He’s kind of the quarterback of the defense for Tyler. A great personality. You guys are really going to like Kobe, and I think he’ll  be able to help us immediately.”

On what they were looking for with this class…
“Well, we were trying to hit a little bit of everything. The offensive line, we wanted to continue to build with some length there and getting some guys that are 6-foot-5-plus really helps us there. Then the linebackers, getting some height and some size at linebacker. Obviously, we just have 13 guys. We have more work to do, but we’re excited about these guys that signed early.”

On using the remaining roster spots for transfers..
“Not necessarily. Obviously, we’ll look at it, and we’re probably going to have to sign a few transfers, but we also see that there’s so many guys that, especially with the COVID year, that people had, and us not being on the road as much or at all last spring. Then just a couple weeks, we were only on the road two weeks this year. I think there’s a bunch of guys with really good senior evals out there that we’ve been communicating with that we know didn’t sign. So, for us, we’re going to go back out and see those guys, bring those guys in for visits in January. So, they’ll still be some high school kids we signed for sure.”

On if there are high expectations for Sterling Lockett
“Yeah because of who Sterling is and his work ethic and his passion and his ability to understand the game and his ability to always be working to improve. He just needs to be Sterling. That’s the biggest thing, but watching him in camp and seeing the explosiveness that Sterling has and the ability to run routes and catch the football. We’re excited about him and his future here. He’ll have a big impact.”

On the quarterback situation…
“Yeah, we will address it before February. One of those things where we’re in communications that Collin (Klein) and I have had with a number of quarterbacks. There’s a lot of guys that didn’t sign early. I think that’s a product of kids having really good senior years that maybe nobody got a chance to see as juniors because of the COVID year. So, no, it’s an area we’ll address in January.”

On managing regular recruiting and the transfer portal…
“It’s really daunting, and I guess the biggest thing that all of us are probably struggling with is there’s kids entering the portal today and tomorrow and the next day, and they can’t go visit anywhere. So, you’re trying to just get to know those kids and get on zoom with those guys. Then the previous two weeks, there was kids entering it and we had had our list of high school kids that a lot of these kids had either been committed to us for a while or we were trying to make sure and finish up a visit and maybe beat one other school on. Then you have the transfer portal on top of that. But it’s not going to change. I hope, but I don’t know where this is going to go. I hope the signing date maybe gets adjusted a little bit so that from the coaching changes to the transfer portal and those things. I don’t know how that’s going to happen, but I hope it does so that we kind of get a cleaner slate for high school kids and then a cleaner slate for transfers.”

On the seven transfer offset scholarships …
“It will, but they haven’t changed the roster management. So, if it were, we can keep all the super seniors and have an additional seven guys, that’s one thing, but you still have to keep your roster at 85. So, that’s where there’s a little bit of a balancing act with some seniors that are still deciding if they’re going to come back for that super senior year. A lot of that might not even take place and get finished up for the second signing period. It might still be into the spring or into the summer. Yeah, we will probably take advantage of that. But just with the roster management, it’s hard to say.”

On the possible late talent for the later signing period…
“I would say this year there is, and I think to the point you started with, with the transfer portal, I think people maybe pushed the high school classes a little bit to the side. I think high school kids, some of them signed early because they thought this is their chance to sign and I’m going to take something. Then some of them are waiting because some of these transfer kids are going to find a place to go, and then there’s going to be spots available. I still think we have to do a tremendous job of evaluating off of senior film. I still want to take a guy that’s going to be here for four or five years as opposed to one or two years. So, we were a week shorter than we typically are on the road. We’re only out for two weeks, so it’s really hard to get around to enough people. We’ve got to utilize that time in January and get back out and see these high school kids that have had really good senior years that held pat.”

On the coaching staff managing the transfer portal…
“We’ve assigned a couple of coaches that are quality control, analysts type people strictly to the portal on one side of the ball or the other. I’m on the road and getting a text, ‘Hey, this kid’s in. Here’s his PFF (Pro Football Focus), here’s 30 clips, here’s 40 clips.’ In between schools, you get back to a hotel, you’re looking at your phone or looking at your laptop to look at 20-30 snaps, and, ‘Yeah, I like him, send him to Steve (Stanard), send them to Joe (Klanderman), send him to Collin (Klein),’ whatever it may be. Then trying to get ahold of those kids, but you’re also pretty regimented with school visit, home visit, home visit. These two weeks were nuts, I have to tell you.”

On possibly adding staff to focus on the transfer portal…
“Probably, and we kind of started that last summer when we knew this was going to kind of blow up. So, we do have one on each side of the ball. But they also are doing some high school things as well. But, you know, I think what first has to get figured out is the dates. When we’re going to have signing, or we’re going to have an earlier signing period. That’s kind of where I think it could be going, have an earlier signing period, maybe early in their senior year, before their senior year and then push it back so that maybe kids if they were entering the transfer portal, maybe had some more time to go check places out because there was kids that we talked to that have had, 25 offers and it’s Wednesday and it’s dead on Sunday.”

On the versatility of the offensive linemen that were signed…
“Yeah, we think they have the ability to play tackle first and if not guard as opposed to the flip side of, ‘Man, they’re guards, can we make them into a tackle?’ Cooper Beebe is a great example. Cooper’s playing tackle. We brought him in, I think thinking he was going to be a guard, and then we were able to move him outside. Where these guys we are bringing in with the potential that we hope they can play tackle, and if not, we’ll slide him into guard. Having that length with all three of those guys is important.”

On these signings fitting in with the new defensive alignment…
“Yeah, we think Tobi (Osunsanmi), and Jake (Clifton) for that matter, could be a Sam or a Will. Be a space guy or be a boundary guy. Then (Jordan) Perry and (VJ) Payne we think could play any of those three safety spots.”

On the Name, Image & Likeness situation with this class…
“A little bit, it’s out there for sure. But once again being out there for such a short period of time it got brought up and we were able to at least give some data of what some of our players had been able to do. We still can’t control that. It still comes from their representation or them getting that somewhat on their own. So, we were able to show some data where it’s been effective, and it has helped. I think it’s just going to continue on as we go through this too.”

On talking with a coach’s kid like Jalen Klemm
“Yeah. Connor (Riley) went to that one because I wasn’t able to. I’ll get there in January. But he and his mom came up here on the visit, and just like I would be I want my son to be coached hard, I want him to be treated right, treated fairly and I want him to begin to get into environments that he can develop, learn, be cared for, be loved, and that stuff. That’s the same thing as dad wanted. So, we had some good conversations with his dad, and he knew we had a pedigree with getting NFL offensive linemen. I know that Coach Riley did a phenomenal job with Jalen and hit it off with him, and we’re excited to sign him.”

On how much recruiting will impact coaching hires…
“I would say probably less. Trying to get the right people in here first that can help us with K State football, and then make sure that they’re a fit to our staff into our players. Then look and see, okay, where do they feel more comfortable at? Because we can move people around. If you can build relationships, I firmly believe you can recruit.”

On the local recruiting…
“It’s been good. Once again, I still think we have a full month to finish that off, but I think we’re off to a good start.”

On Kobe Savage possibly helping the team immediately…
“Just being around him this weekend and then a few times on the phone and talking ball with him. He understands the game really well. He was the quarterback of their defense, and they had a lot of checks and adjustments. He had to be the guy that helps some of the younger kids get lined up. If you can communicate, which I saw on film as well. I witnessed him on the board and stuff and talking to Coach (Joe) Klanderman. We need guys that are confident that already have been into a system. That’s the hardest thing sometimes is I only played offense and all of the sudden you’re going to play me as a defensive back or you got him type of deal on defense. This kid’s been through a system where he’s played a number of coverages, played a number of man-man situations and pressures, had a lot on his plate. That’s why we think he’ll be a guy that can help us immediately.”

On if it helps having athletes come in from powerhouse high school programs…
“If they have the right mindset, it sure does. But if anybody comes in here with the right mindset of, ‘I don’t know it all and I’ve got to learn, I’ve got to pay my dues and I’ve just got to put my head down and go to work and learn the system and get with Coach Tru (Trumain Carroll) and get bigger and stronger and listen to the older guys, listen to coaches.’ If you do those things, you’re going to be successful. You are going to be successful. If you come into any program and think you’ve already got it figured out, then you’re going to be in for a rude awakening because college football, no matter what level of college football, college football is just such a difference in what they’re used to as far as the amount of time that we spent with him.”

On looking for a new offensive coordinator…
“Way down, way down. Same thing, I had been on the road for a week, we made the decision. Then I was on the road for another week. Now we’re only at Wednesday, and it’s Signing Day. So, I really haven’t. I haven’t talked to anybody. I haven’t given it much thought at all. Again, I’m going to spend a lot of time with Coach (Collin) Klein during this during this period of bowl prep and that offensive staff and learn a little bit more about the things that we’re doing that we really, the things that I would like to see us make some alterations on and then we’ll evaluate it after the ballgame.”

On potentially moving Signing Day to an earlier date…
“Yeah, I haven’t seen any dates at all, but something’s got to give here. Something’s got to give from the coaching profession, to the transfer portal. All that stuff. That’s what’s got to give. I don’t know where that’s going to be at. Is it going to be earlier before a season starts? Is it going to be pushed back and just take it out of December so that from the transfers, from the coaching changes? I don’t know. I know that we’re going to have some pretty thorough conversations in January at our conventions.”

On possibly signing running backs…
“Well, we definitely need to look at running backs. I don’t know if you know this, we’ve got a pretty good one. So, it’s not easy to go out and try and find a transfer because they want to be the guy. I’m going to shoot them straight – we’ve got a guy and he’s pretty dang talented. By the way, he was First Team All-American. So, we’ve got to look for some high school kids, without question. We didn’t answer that question now, but we will in January.”

On a possible July signing day…
“Yeah, potentially. I look at that. We also want to get them here for a game day visit. That is huge for us. We get kids here from game day visits. We’ve got a great opportunity at them. So, I don’t know. I think July might be a little bit early, but in the same respect, maybe we’d clean some of it up as well as maybe people wouldn’t offer 500 kids because then they might fill up pretty quickly in July. Because my kid would take it right now if he got it in July. So, that’s where I’m not quite sure if that’s September 1. Where is that date? Maybe it’s nothing until January. I don’t want to go back to February as that’s the only one because you have kids committed a year in advance and then you kind of hang on through all the way up to February. It’s probably like the offensive coordinator – I haven’t thought about the dates that much. It’s something that I’m going to have to because I know we’re going to have some pretty good discussions about it in January.”

On other areas of need in recruiting…
“Yep, that’s another one. A quarterback’s one. We’re always going to sign a quarterback in a class. I mean, our goal is always to sign a quarterback. We need to get another linebacker, probably another safety. Those are just things off top of my head, but we’ve got to kind of see where this whole thing ends up here at right before semester starts. If we can get a few guys in here at semester, we’d like to. If not, then we’ll start to hammer more of the high school guys until we get to first February.”

On how many of these signings will be on campus for spring practices…
“I can’t because I’m not 100% sure on it. Not many, may be just a few. I can’t think off the top my head which ones, but we have just a couple of them. And a couple of them are really good track athletes who want to stay and run track. That’s not a deal breaker for me at all. I think it’s an advantage. But I also know talking to a lot of moms out there it’s pretty important to have them to have their sons with them for the semester.”

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Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttps://sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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