K-State football legend, Hall of Famer, and Ring of Honor member Veryl Switzer passed away on Saturday at the age of 89. Switzer was one of the first African American football players in the Big Seven Conference, and he was the first African American scholarship player to graduate from Kansas State University.
He was a trailblazer in many ways but was also a stud on the football field. Switzer remains the highest drafted football player in K-State history, getting picked number four by the Green Bay Packers in 1954. He was the first African American drafted in the first round by the Packers and played for two years in Green Bay before serving a military obligation. While living in Green Bay and playing for the Packers, he lived at the local YMCA and worked at a liquor store in the offseason. My, how things have changed!
If there were a Mount Rushmore of K-State Athletics, I think Veryl Switzer is a shoo-in to be one of the four. I’ll save the other three for a future article, but pondering this gave me an idea to write a series of articles designating the Mount Rushmore of K-State football players at every position on the field. The more I thought about it, the more daunting it became.
Michael Bishop was also in the news this week, named to the 2023 college football hall of fame ballot. Speaking of shoo-ins, Michael Bishop should be in the college football hall of fame with zero arguments. But I digress. Since Bishop is in the news, I figured I’d start with naming my Mount Rushmore of K-State quarterbacks. Here are my picks, along with my argument for each.
Bishop only played two years at K-State, in 1997 and 1998, but he elevated the program to levels it had never been to before. He led the Wildcats to a Fiesta Bowl in 1997 and followed that up in 1998 with an undefeated regular season, a nationally televised victory against Nebraska, a number one ranking, and an appearance in the Big 12 championship game. Bishop put K-State football on the map nationally. He played on some talented K-State teams, but they were led by the electrifying and dynamic Bishop, who could run the option effectively and had a laser for an arm.
Bishop’s name appears all over the K-State record books despite only playing two seasons in Manhattan. Here is a sampling…
- Fourth on the all-time touchdown list at K-State.
- Second on the all-time total yardage list in a season, with 3,592 in 1998.
- Second on the all-time yards per game list for a season and career.
- Seventh in career total yardage.
- Holds three of the top five records for total yardage in a game.
- Holds the K-State record for lowest interception percentage in a season (1998).
- Top five in passing yards in a season (1998).
- Tenth in career passing yards.
- Fifth in career passing yards per game.
- Fourth in career touchdown passes.
- First in passing efficiency for a season (1998) and third for his career.
- He also holds the record for the longest touchdown pass, a 97-yarder.
- He finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1998.
Klein led the K-State Wildcats to a number one ranking in 2012 before losing to the Baylor Bears. He is one of only two K-State quarterbacks to lead the team to a conference championship in football. Here are some of his notable standings in the K-State record book.
- He finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2012.
- Third in career completion percentage.
- Top 10 in career passing yardage, passing touchdowns, and rushing yards in a season.
- Top five in career yards per attempt, passing efficiency, total yards in a season, total yards in a career, and rushing yards by a quarterback.
- Number one and two in total touchdowns in a season.
- All-time leader in career touchdowns and rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.
Lynn Dickey played at K-State in 1968, 69, and 70. When he was the quarterback, the Wildcats won four games in 1968, five in 1969, and six in 1970. Why is that significant? K-State football hadn’t won four games in a season since 1955. Dickey put K-State on the map at the time, and his obvious NFL talent and the stats he put up while at K-State made all the newspapers at the time. Some people WAY older than me still call him the best K-State quarterback ever. I was young enough to watch his successful career quarterbacking the Green Bay Packers in the NFL, where he was voted into the Packers hall of fame.
Dickey shows up prominently in the K-State record book, which displays his impressive passing numbers. The numbers are especially eye-popping since football was much more a running back game when he played in college. Here are some of his rankings in the K-State record books.
Number two in total career pass attempts, completions, and passing yards.
Four of the top 10 passing yardage games in K-State history. Nobody else is on the list more than twice.
Top four in career passing yards per game.
Top 10 in career touchdown passes.
Roberson gets the nod as the fourth face on Mount Rushmore partly because he led K-State to a Big 12 championship in 2003, but he also remains near the top of the K-State record books in many categories.
- Record holder for rushing yards in a game by a quarterback and career yards per completion.
- Fourth in career rushing yards.
- Most career rushing yards by a quarterback.
- Second in rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.
- Top 10 in career passing yards.
- Top five in yards per attempt and passing touchdowns.
It was tough to narrow the list of K-State quarterbacks down to four. I had to pick these four over great players such as Jake Waters, Josh Freeman, Chad May, Skylar Thompson, and Steve Grogan, among others.
Do you agree or disagree with my list? Let me know. You might get me to change my mind, but probably not!