Kansas State’s biggest question of the off-season was answered this week.Who would succeed Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein?Wildcats coach Bill Snyder announced Monday that junior college transfer Jake Waters beat out sophomore Daniel Sams for the job.“I think that the competition was productive, and I think it was extremely competitive during that period of time,” Snyder said. “Consistency was a big part of it and many other things.”Waters transferred to Kansas State after leading undefeated Iowa Western to the NJCAA national championship last season and earning offensive player of the year honors. He threw for 3,501 yards and 29 touchdowns and only three interceptions. “Just seeing Jake grow since he got here in the spring to now, you can see that he has been really having that desire and hunger to want to be better — to make everybody around him better,” standout receiver Tyler Lockett said. “You see him in the film room day in and day out, really trying to have an understanding of what the offense consists of and being the best quarterback that he can be.”Joining Lockett as one of Waters’ prime targets is junior receiver Curry Sexton. He played in 11 games last season, picking up 75 yards on seven receptions and scoring one touchdown.“He runs routes extremely well, catches the ball well and is an aggressive player,” Snyder said. “He is a good blocker as well as a receiver.”But Kansas State’s strength will be its offensive line, which returns every starter. Last season, the line blew open huge running lanes for Klein, who gained 920 yards and scored 23 touchdowns. “If they don’t take anything for granted and they commit themselves to becoming better, then it’s a very, very positive thing,” Snyder said.The Wildcats won the Big 12 last season after being picked to finish sixth. The year before they were picked to finish eighth but finished second. This season? They were picked sixth.“I think I said last year that, if I we’re given the opportunity, I would have picked us 99th,” Snyder said. “As I look at it this year right now where we stand, I’d probably echo the same thought.”
Coach: Bill Snyder (22nd season, 170-85-1)
2012 record: 11-2, 8-1 Big 12
Season opener: Friday vs. North Dakota State
Key issues: It’s never easy replacing a Heisman Trophy finalist, but that’s the task at hand for coach Bill Snyder after the departure of Collin Klein. … Snyder has selected Jake Waters as QB. Last year Waters was the NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year at Iowa Western after a 12-0 season and a national championship. …Waters won the competition against sophomore Daniel Sams, who was considered by many to be the front-runner after playing in eight games last season, mostly in late-game situations. … Sams rushed for 235 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries. … KSU must replace nine of its 11 defensive starters from last year, including the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, linebacker Arthur Brown. … Returning LB Blake Slaughter started five times in 2010 and holds 52 career tackles.