As we reach the eve of National Signing Day, fans begin to take a much closer look at their school’s incoming recruiting class. Most hope to find a potential breakout stud or two, with the more stars next to their name the better.
Not Kansas State. According to 247Sports’ rankings, the Wildcats haven’t had a recruit ranked as a four-star or better join the program since 2014, and even that was a junior college transfer (Terrell Clinkscales, a defensive tackle, who only lasted a season). Everyone else has been a three-star recruit … or below.
You’d have a hard time noticing based on the on-field results, of course. The Wildcats reached a bowl in four straight years before finally falling short this year, finishing 5-7. That’s a testament to legendary coach Bill Snyder, who found his type of players regardless of their recruiting ranking. None of these recruiting rankings were surprising for Snyder.
To put it in perspective, the last time Kansas State played in a (then) BCS bowl, the 2012 Fiesta Bowl, the Wildcats turned around a month later and inked a recruiting class that included … zero 4-star recruits.
Top recruits are just not what Kansas State does, which is something that North Dakota State-turned-Wildcats coach Chris Klieman now has to wrestle with. So far he’s following the blueprint, bringing in another load of three-star recruits who are ready to build the program in the same workmanlike image they always have.
It’s a powerful reminder that just because a college football program “wins” on National Signing Day doesn’t mean they’ll win come August and September on the field. Coaching matters. Systems matter. And culture matters. Sometimes, that culture is enough, and is even made better by having the right type of players, who might not be the guys who land on top of the national rankings.
And, it provides hope to fans of every program, no matter what the “experts” think about their incoming recruiting haul come Wednesday night.