The Kansas State Wildcats, fresh off a Big 12 title, had the task of replacing Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein at quarterback this offseason.
Head coach Bill Snyder has given Wildcats fans the answer they've been waiting for as junior Jake Waters, a JUCO transfer from Iowa Western, was named the starter during Monday's Big 12 coaches teleconference.
Waters beat out redshirt sophomore Daniel Sams for the job. Snyder said that both will likely play in the team's opener on Friday against the North Dakota State Bison though.
Snyder won't say it but many inside program believe they may have best passing qb at KSU in years.— kevin kietzman (@kkwhb) August 26, 2013
“Both of them in likelihood will play, but Jake Waters will be the starter,” Snyder said.
Waters was the NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year last year after throwing for 3,501 yards and 39 touchdowns en route to a national title at Iowa Western Community College.
According to 247sports.com, Waters was the top-ranked pro-style quarterback in his class and the 17th-ranked JUCO prospect nationally.
The top two schools vying for Waters' services were the Wildcats and the Penn State Nittany Lions. Waters committed to Snyder and Kansas State on Dec. 13, 2012, per 247sports.com.
What set apart Waters from Sams, according to Snyder, was his consistency over fall camp.
“He’s invested himself in his preparation and in the learning of the system,” Snyder said. “He’s a very conscientious young guy in that respect. As much as anything, he invested himself, and worked extremely hard, and did above and beyond what was asked of him. It’s shown obviously on the field and a degree of consistency that’s helped him and helped us.”
Waters made his debut for the Wildcats in this year's spring game, where he completed 14 of 18 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns.
Sams, the guy Waters beat out for the job, saw action in seven games last year, mainly in garbage time. However, he did step in for the majority of the second half against Oklahoma State on Nov. 3 last season when Klein went down with an injury.
Sams threw just eight passes last season, completing six of them for 55 yards. His playmaking ability on the ground, though, is what drew the affection of fans in Manhattan. He ran for 235 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 7.3 yards a carry.
The Wildcats open their season against the Bison on Friday at 7:30 p.m. CT. The game will be nationally broadcast on Fox Sports 1 as part of the network's debut.
*All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted