Kansas State Wildcats

K-State Football: Five Key Players to Watch in 2023

NCAA Football: Kansas State at West Virginia

T-minus 72 days until K-State kicks off the 2023 football season in Manhattan against Southeast Missouri. I will wait a bit longer before unveiling my official preseason preview and prediction for the season. The prevailing wisdom for the Wildcats going into the 2023 season is that K-State should be a competitor in the race to repeat as Big 12 conference champions. I’m not yet making that prediction, as I think they’ve lost too many key players from last year’s team, but if things go right at a few key positions, the Wildcats have a good opportunity to repeat.

Here are five key players to watch in 2023. If the Wildcats are to return to Arlington in December, these are the guys that will make it happen.

 

Will Howard

There is no doubt that if Will Howard begins the 2023 season where he left off last season and continues to improve as a quarterback K-State will be in contention. But does he have a solid receiving corps to throw to? Phillip Brooks returns as the only receiver with significant playing time. RJ Garcia has shown flashes of being a solid contributor. Sterling Lockett will likely be in the mix, but there are a lot of receivers on the roster that we don’t know much about. Ben Sinnott returns at the tight end position, which will help. It will be something to keep an eye on as the season progresses. The wide receiver position is one of the biggest question marks on the team.

Khalid Duke

Duke is returning to full-time defensive end duty to replace departing first-round NFL pick Felix Anudike-Uzomah. Losing Felix and defensive tackle Eli Huggins will be very difficult, if not impossible, and Duke will have to produce in order to lessen the blow. After the wide receiver position, the defensive line is of high concern to me going into the 2023 season.

Daniel Green

Green is an All-Big 12 first-team talent, and it’s nice to have him back another year. If he can avoid the personal foul penalties and stay on the field, he is the glue that will keep this defense together and performing at a high level.

 

Cooper Beebe

Honestly, the entire offensive line returning means that this is the strongest position on the team. Beebe is a first-team All-American and the leader of the group. If they can continue playing at a high level, opening holes for the running backs and giving Will Howard time to find open receivers, the Wildcats will have a successful season. Will they perform well enough to win the Big 12 again? That remains to be seen.

Treshaun Ward

Florida State transfer running back Treshaun Ward hopes to be a key contributor for the Wildcats in 2023. He played in 10 games, with six starts, for the Seminoles in 2022, rushing for 628 yards and seven touchdowns. Replacing Deuce Vaughn will be impossible, but DJ Giddens did well in a reserve role, and Ward will help with depth and may even win the starting running back job. If Ward can help minimize the production lost from the graduation of Vaughn, it will be huge. Running behind an experienced offensive line will help.

There are many players crucial to the success of the Wildcats in 2023, but if these five can play at a high level, we’re likely to see K-State in contention for the league championship all season long.

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