July 23, 2008

Prince added experience with juco class

Kansas State's recruiting class made headlines at the Big 12 Media Day on Tuesday. And that's fine with third-year coach Ron Prince, who openly discussed his reasoning behind signing 19 junior college players, which is believed to be the most ever by a Bowl Championship Series program and includes 15 that are expected to be on the Wildcats' roster at the start of training camp on Aug. 4.

Prince understood the curiosity.

"At first blush, you're like, ‘Oh my goodness,' but also with that 19 that we signed, we had the anticipation that at least two or three of them might not come in the fall and might have to delay their enrollment," he said. "All of that is a part of making sure we have a veteran team."

Prince was fine with his incoming freshmen flying under the radar as well.

"Nobody is talking about Brandon Harold. That's OK with him," Prince said. "He's a really terrific player from East St. Louis, who is 6-5 ½ and 280 pounds. He gets a chance to develop and not play before he's ready. Logan Dold, who broke every rushing record in the state of Kansas, a lot of people aren't talking about him. Kwamaine Brown broke the touchdown record in Florida and was the Central Florida Player of the Year. A lot of people aren't talking about him. They're looking at all of these community college players. That's a good thing, so that the players can develop."

But watch out for these guys.

Harold was ranked as the No. 39 defensive end by Rivals.com after he collected 91 tackles with eight sacks as a junior and 82 tackles and five sacks and three forced fumbles en route to all-state honors as a senior at East St. Louis (Mo.) High School. Prince said Dold will play exclusively at running back, as the 6-foot, 195-pounder rushed for 2,388 yards and 49 touchdowns and added 787 passing yards and seven touchdowns in helping Garden Plains High School to a 14-0 record last season.

Prince on Tuesday mentioned Brown's name for the first time since signing day. Brown's mother told GoPowercat.com's Brian Gates by phone from her Florida home on Tuesday that her son had completed his tests and classwork and is expected to play at K-State in the fall. Rated as the No. 30 running back in the nation, the 5-foot-8, 185-pound Brown earned Florida 5A Player of the Year honors in running for 2,229 yards and a state record-tying 44 touchdowns at Osceola (Fla.) High School in 2007. Brown, who ran a 4.46 40 at the 2007 Tallahassee NIKE Training Camp, set a state record with 278 points in his senior season.

"(The incoming freshmen) are excited about us and we're excited about them," Prince said. "We just want to make sure that when the big fish start to eat the little fish that some of these guys that we're playing ‘Finding Nemo' with for a while can stay up in the shallow water until it's their time to go swimming."

Campbell and Childs back at home

As reported on GoPowercat.com last Thursday, senior Ian Campbell and junior Eric Childs will both resume full-time duties at defensive end in the fall after both saw some time at outside linebacker last season.

On Tuesday, Prince expounded upon his decision.

"(Campbell) and Eric Childs both will move into defensive end full-time. Part of that is recruiting Antonio Feldman, Josh Berard and moving Dahrnaz Tigner from strong safety to outside linebacker and having Olu Hall play the position he played at Virginia," Prince said. "Antwon Moore has returned and Chris Patterson has returned. All of those things make it possible for Ian and Eric to go back in at defensive end and be able to play well for us."

Asked if he would have preferred to keep Campbell and Childs as full-time defensive ends last season, Prince replied, "I think in a perfect world we would have. But both have been able to maintain weight and gain significant strength and bulk. Now they're in 250- to 270-pound range and growing and that's a positive for us. And we'll have the depth with Daniel Calvin, Jack Hayes, Raphael Guidry and Payton Kirk."

Hayes, Guidry and Kirk are each listed at defensive end in the media guide. The 6-foot-3, 310-pound Calvin is listed as a defensive tackle.

Mack the mentor

Prince lauded the development of several key players. Then the tables were suddenly turned: How had Prince changed while on the job at K-State?

"It's just experience and experience counts," he said. "I said that in 2006 when I got here. You can't dismiss it. Mack Brown has a lot more experience than I do. He's coached some of the very best teams."

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