May 14, 2007

Spring review: defensive line

Kansas State will no longer have Ian Campbell, last year's Big 12 Conference sack king, or the athletic Eric Childs available to line up at defensive end. No, Campbell and Childs haven't moved on, just back a level to linebacker in K-State's new 3-4 defensive scheme. It's now up to Rob Jackson to lead the way up front, a task he appears fully capable of.

The Good News: There isn't a better player on the Wildcat roster than Jackson, a versatile defensive end who is equally effective both against the run and as a pass rusher. The former Fort Scott Community College transfer took some time to adjust to Division-I football last season, but by the end of the year he racked up 8.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, with two of those sacks coming in K-State's upset win over Texas. The switch to a three-man front didn't make Jackson any less effective during the spring, as he regularly dominated the Wildcat offensive line in practices and the Spring Game. Moses Manu also took strides after transferring in last season and will claim the other end spot, with Brandon Balkcom backing up at end. At 278 pounds, Balkcom has good size for a 3-4 end. K-State has a pair of experienced players set to play tackle, with the starter being 6-foot, 296-pound junior Alphonso Moran.

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