Before I delve any farther into positional analyses, I thought it would be fun to break down the best collegiate player from the state of Kansas at every individual position going into 2011. Because I’ve already talked offensive specialists, we’ll start with offense first. Here goes…
Jeremiah Hatch practically gets this award by default. Kansas’ senior center has been starting since the fourth game of his true freshman season. He’s a weight room beast when his back is healthy and his shotgun snap has great velocity.
Tim Biere is among the best tight ends in the conference. He’s started since he arrived on the KU campus. Biere has superb hands (other than in one forgettable game last season) and is an equally effective blocker.
Daymond Patterson is far and away the most-seasoned receiver available. Kansas’ senior receiver pulled down 60 catches last season despite horrendous quarterbacking. Hopefully a more established offensive system and settled signal caller will result in a big senior season.
Bryce Brown takes the first piece of cake for Kansas State. If the sophomore meets even half of his superb potential, he’ll be an immediate star in Bill Snyder’s well-rehearsed run-first offense. He won’t have to share as many carries as first runner-up James Sims, either.
Justin Tuggle is not only my pick to win the job, but I think he’ll be the most pleasant surprise for either team. If the ground gets rolling as well as it should, it will make the job easier for whichever quarterback actually wins out. That in itself may be enough to garner this spot.
This was a difficult call. However, like Daniel Thomas of the past two years, I don’t believe Bryce Brown’s success relies as heavily on good quarterback play as vice versa. Plus, Brown has at least a little NCAA game experience to build on.
Jordan Webb was my first thought, but he’s a hit-or-miss pick. If he doesn’t take the strides necessary to merit such an award, he won’t start for long anyway.
I’m not sure if it counts since he may not literally ‘improve’ (injury cut his last season short). However, if the quarterbacking is any good, any of Kansas State's top three returning receivers will improve the most statistically. I think it'll be Tramaine Thompson.
Note that Bryce Brown would definitely be atop this list as well, but he had decent success in his freshman year at Tennessee and I don't want him competing for every award.
Darrian Miller's not in this photo, I just like it a lot.
Freshman Darrian Miller will find the field and make the most of his minutes. The question here is time, because Kansas’ depth chart at running back is thick. Total statistics aside, opportunistic play will make Miller the most valuable freshman here. If Wildcat quarterback Daniel Sams can throw an accurate pass beyond five yards, he’ll have a great shot to be the best here.
I envision only two players truly competing for the title of MVP; Daymond Patterson and Bryce Brown. If Patterson gets to return punts and catch passes, the award is all his.
I only put this award here as an excuse to mention Washburn senior quarterback Dane Simoneau, junior runningback Vershon Moore, and Pitt State senior option quarterback Zac Dickey. These guys could play and probably contribute to Kansas or Kansas State in some fashion or other.