Four Downs: Injury updates, positive Lenners news
We catch you up on the four biggest Kansas State football stories to come out of recent media availability sessions.
1. Adam Harter is done for the season
Our own Derek Young initially reported this news last Thursday, and on Tuesday head coach Chris Klieman did tell the media fullback Adam Harter is indeed lost for the season due to injury.
Harter was going to be the starter at fullback, and he's a genuine loss for this offense. It lessens the depth at tight end and fullback, making it more likely starting tight end Nick Lenners will see his role at fullback increase. That, of course, means tight ends like Blaise Gammon and Sammy Wheeler could see their reps increase, too, when Lenners is in the backfield.
“It does (hurt), but at least we have the time to figure it all out," Klieman said. "Everyone that’s a tight end is also a fullback, from (Nick) Lenners to Logan Long to Blaise (Gammon) to Sammy (Wheeler) to Luke Sowa. We’re throwing Jax Dineen in the mix, as well. There’s so many bodies back there now. We have the time. It’s unfortunate that Adam was injured, but it’s not like it’s happened two days before the game. So, we have a number of guys that we’ll keep rotating through.
"There’s not going to be a set, ‘The only thing you are is a tight end and the only thing you are is a fullback.’ We have to continue to push the guys and see how much they can absorb and understand to play multiple spots. It’ll be a revolving door there, but a lot of guys are going to play, too.”
As far as fullbacks, specifically, go, Mason Barta likely becomes the top option if a guy like Lenners isn't playing the position. He'll battle for reps with Luke Sowa, and true freshman Jax Dineen suddenly sees his chance to play early increase, too.
2. Nick Lenners received another year of eligibility
Also first reported by Derek Young, starting tight end Nick Lenners has received another year of eligibility after missing virtually the entire 2018 season with a torn ACL.
Lenners becoming just a sophomore is a big deal. Think about it this way; the Wildcats hunted for a talented grad transfer tight end to get just one year of depth and production at a key position in their offense. They weren't able to find somebody to bring in at that spot in this manner this year, unfortunately.
Now, in theory, when Lenners would have been gone after the 2020 season he'll be back again in 2021. K-State, and its fans, would likely have been thrilled to land a grad transfer of Lenners' (projected) production - even for just a year - two years from now.
Well, that's exactly what they just got.
3. Cody Fletcher will miss the season opener
Typically here I'd talk about what sources have told us behind the scenes about a player's injury status.
Or, I guess, we could just let the K-State head coach make it all clear on linebacker Cody Fletcher, himself:
“He’s got a lower-leg injury. I think Fletch will probably miss, maybe, two more weeks. Is he going to miss the first game? I would say he would," Klieman said. "The second game, I think there’s potential he could be back. It’s one of those things we’re going to evaluate again probably between week one and week two.”
Klieman went on to address the current depth at linebacker.
“We’re rotating three guys right now in there a lot: Elijah (Sullivan), Da’Quan (Patton) and Daniel Green. Those are the three guys that are rotating. Nick Allen’s in that rotation as well. We’re pushing those top three guys to learn multiple positions. Eli is playing both positions. Daniel Green is focusing more on Mike, and Da’Quan is focusing more on Will backer, and Nick can play both spots as well," Klieman said. "We’re fortunate that we’re not losing Cody for very long. It’s a marathon and not a sprint, so we need to be smart with him. Then, we can still swing Eric Gallon back and forth between linebacker and defensive end. We’re probably a little bit more thin on special teams just because Fletch was a starter on all four teams, so we’re trying to even out and divvy out those reps on special teams.”
4. Jahron McPherson is the current starting nickel
K-State defensive assistants told the media on Monday Jahron McPherson currently leads the way at nickel back, having currently overtaken Johnathan Durham for the No. 1 spot.
I think it's a fascinating, exciting move for McPherson, personally.
We always talk about having to take Pro Football Focus numbers as simply a piece of data and not gospel, but PFF did love McPherson last year and have him rated as one of the Wildcats' top defenders in 2018.
I thought McPherson, who arrived and played as a safety up until the move to nickel, shined in his limited reps and will be somebody worth watching this season. Playing somebody like him - or even Jonathan Alexander, who they tried at nickel, too - shows a willingness to try out a 'big' nickel who may be able to support in the run game and attacking the line of scrimmage as much as they do in coverage.
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