Official Kansas State Spring Football Roundup: Position Battles, Newcomers & Guys Who Must Step Up This Season

The Kansas State Wildcats had their first losing season in eight years in 2015, going just 6-7 while dealing with a wide array of devastating injuries. Now healthy, head coach Bill Snyder's squad is looking to put those struggles behind them and return to their winning ways. 

Spring practice will prove to be extremely vital to Kansas State's success next year as they try to replace several key starters and post another winning record in what could be Snyder's final season. Here's an overview of everything happening around the Wildcats ahead of their spring game on Saturday:

Top Position Battle

The biggest reason why Kansas State won just six games last year was because of their massive quarterback struggles. A large part of that is due to injuries - starter Jesse Ertz was lost for the season after just two snaps, third-string Alex Delton missed most of the season with a knee injury - but someone has to take control of this team and run with it.

Joe Hubener started 11 games last year but was wildly inconsistent, throwing for just 1,837 yards, nine touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He's not expected to get a chance to redeem himself (he was benched for wide receiver Kody Cook, who played QB in the bowl game last year), so it's an absolute necessity that either Ertz or Delton can stay healthy and be productive.

3 Players That Need To Step Up
CB Duke Shelley

Kansas State's pass defense was absolutely atrocious last season, ranking just 120th in the country (out of 127 teams) by allowing 285.5 yards per game through the air. Now they have to replace best player in that secondary, Morgan Burns, to avoid being even worse in 2016.

Now, that defense is expected to get a big boost from the return of safety Dante Barnett, who missed most of last season, but Shelley is expected to be the guy on the perimeter. He showed all the makings of becoming a true shutdown cover corner as a true freshman, and K-State needs him to become that guy sooner rather than later.

WR Deante Burton

Kansas State has a relatively thin receiving core, and to make matters worse, no one really stepped up as a go-to guy in 2015. Burton is perhaps the lone playmaker of the bunch, and the pressure is on him to produce more than the 510 yards and four touchdowns he did last year.

OL Dalton Risner

Risner is K-State's only returning starter along the offensive line. Not only is he expected build on what was a fantastic freshman season last year, but he's being counted on to take over a leadership role as a sophomore.

3 Newcomers To Watch 
QB Skylar Thompson

The four-star true freshman has put his name into the mix in quarterback battle, and he might talented option the Wildcats have. He is clearly behind Ertz and Delton at this point because of his lack of experience, but he has shown flashes of why he was the prize of KSU's recruiting class. If the Wildcats have struggles under center again, Thompson will get his shot sooner rather than later.

WR Byron Pringle

KSU made it a point to add some playmakers at wide receiver in this incoming class, and Pringle will be counted on to make an immediate impact. At 6'2" and 212-pounds, the JUCO transfer has the size and strength to be a good possession receiver, and his excellent ball skills make him a dangerous red zone threat.

WR Denzel Goolsby

Goolsby did redshirt last season, but he's another freshman that K-State is counting on to provide some explosion on offense. The 5'11", 190-pounder has game-breaking speed and the potential to be a very scary deep threat.

What they're saying:
K-State offensive line shows progress in spring practice

Byron Pringle could give K-State's offense a major boost

Snyder still undecided on scrimmage format

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Related Topics: Bill Snyder, Big 12 Football, Denzel Goolsby, Byron Pringle, Duke Shelley, Skylar Thompson, Deante Burton, Dalton Risner, Alex Delton, Jesse Ertz, NCAA Football, Kansas State Wildcats News