MANHATTAN, KS. (KSNT)- Football fans across the state of Kansas are talking a lot about the Wildcats at this time of the year.
K-State has a new offensive coordinator. They also have a new quarterback. They also had the most players named to the preseason All-Big 12 list of any team in the conference. The point is this: There is a lot to discuss with this year’s Kansas State football team, but the players and coaches themselves are ignoring that outside discussion.
“[Our players] talk to each other the fact that what people say, that what is written, that what people predicted, it has nothing to do with where we end up finishing, with how our season, with how each one of the games end up,” K-State assistant head coach Van Malone said.
The team knows their focus must remain on the tasks at hand, not what fans or media might be saying. Malone says seeing how his players stay committed to that focus makes him a proud coach.
“That’s cool as a coach to be able to watch the maturity and the leadership as it grows through our team,” Malone said. “The guarantee we can make, because the predictions they are what they are, but we can guarantee that we’re going to play hard and our players will care for each, that we’ll stick together, that we’ll be able to handle adversity as it comes.”
The intentionality in their focus can likely be contributed to what K-State coaches call a top-notch group of player leadership.
“Our leadership at this moment is the best it’s ever been,” Malone said. “I say that because I’ve talked to a lot of our players and our players remark about how, and especially the ones who have been on our team a while, remark about how many more leaders we have on our team.”
It boils down to a mutual respect and appreciation for the guy next to you, Malone says.
“They enjoy being around that locker room, and that’s the place that they own,” Malone says. “I think that in order to be champions then they have to care about each other. I think that’s where we are. It’s better than it’s been since we’ve been here.