“It’s a lot different. Two different coaching staffs. Just difference perspectives on tings. How they run things is different. Wherever you’re at, every program is going to be different in its own way and are going to run it the way they’re going to run it. And that’s how Coach Klieman came in here from the get go and established how he wanted to run this program and we bought in ever since Day 1. It’s been so much fun getting to know Coach Klieman and this new coaching staff. Each and every day you’re out here on the field, practice doesn’t even feel like practice. Waking up at 6 am for film, it doesn’t even feel like work because it’s fun.”
This was a quote from Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson following last month’s spring scrimmage for the Kansas State Wildcats. It blew my mind.
I covered a couple of Kansas State games last season and clearly Thompson was not seeing eye to eye with this coaching staff. You could see it in his body language. The confidence and energy were not there. Maybe it was the seemingly never-ending quarterback battle with Alex Delton? Or the early season blowouts against Mississippi State and West Virginia? Whatever it was, Thompson was not a happy camper, that much was obvious.
When Bill Snyder retired following the season, I thought Thompson might bolt. He had a couple of years of eligibility left and figured he would take his talents elsewhere. But then, K-State hired Chris Klieman, who at one time recruited Thompson to try and get him to come to North Dakota State.
After he was hired by K-State, Klieman told this story, saying, “I offered the kid. He was an athletic quarterback that had a great arm from a really good program in Fort Osage. I remembered the conversation. I was out on the road, called him and offered him a scholarship and he was all excited. About two days later, he got an offer from Kansas State. That was the end of that.”
Suddenly, this seemed like a match made in heaven. While a single game hasn’t been played thus far, it might have even surpassed that. Last season, Thompson threw for 1,391 yards, completing 59% of his passes with nine touchdowns to four interceptions. On the ground, he rushed for 373 yards and five touchdowns. When he was on, he looked like a top QB in the conference. When he wasn’t, let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. Consistency and stability will be as big of a key as anything for Skylar Thompson, and he appears to already have far more of both of those already under Klieman than he had under Snyder.
However, I have to admit, I did not think Thompson would take a couple of minor shots at his former coach, which he also did after the spring game, saying, “And the [fact that] coach [Klieman] has taken the time out of the day to get to know us as people rather than just a football player means so much. It makes us want to do that much more for them. It means a lot to me. It’s been a really good spring. I’m really pleased with how far I’ve come… there’s still a long ways to go… we’re going to be ready to go in the fall, I promise.”
If this bro-mance keeps up and is able to play out this well on the field, the Big 12 might need to watch out, because the Kansas State Wildcats could be surprising lots of folks this fall.
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