MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Tyler Lockett is the third member of his family to play wide receiver for Bill Snyder at Kansas State, so the 74-year-old coach knows what the family lineage can bring to an offense.
He also knows the perils of building solely around the All-American wide receiver. Not only has Lockett been prone to injury, it also handcuffs what the Wildcats can do offensively
"I've always said that we want to do what our players are capable of doing," Snyder explained. "We don't have anything set aside saying, 'This is Tyler Lockett, and we can't do this without Tyler Lockett,' or whoever else it may be. If you do that, then you're bouncing around all year and I don't really want to do that."
That's why it doesn't matter whether a wide receiver is running with the first team or the scout team, everybody who lines up for the No. 20 Wildcats carries the same expectations.
"I want to acclimate guys to be able to run our offense, run our defense, execute our special teams," Snyder said. "If you're a backup guy, then you have to step up and do those things."
Besides, Lockett has been prone to hamstring injuries throughout his career, and he sat out all but the first quarter of last weekend's blowout win over Stephen F. Austin as a precaution. Snyder said he expects Lockett to play more on Saturday at Iowa State.
"I've said this before as it relates to Tyler," Snyder said, "he just has to fit into our offense and not put ourselves in a position, whether its him or whoever it happens to be, that all of a sudden our structure becomes very limited in what we're capable of doing. We have to work on all of it with everybody."
Jake Waters doesn't shy away from his desire to have No. 16 on the field. But if the dynamic wide receiver is out for any reason, Waters is also prepared to look in other directions.
Kody Cook hauled in an impressive touchdown catch against the Lumberjacks. Deante Burton flashed a big body and soft hands. Curry Sexton has proven over the last couple of years to be the kind of dependable veteran pass catcher that always seems to flourish at Kansas State.
"A lot of those guys with their first game experience did awesome," Waters said. "I have all the confidence in the world knowing if they're out there and open, I'm going to try to get the ball to them because I know they're going to make a play."
Most of those wide receivers were passed over by more high-profile schools, as is the case with the majority of players who get on the field at Kansas State. But it may be just that chip on their shoulder that so often allows them to succeed.
Cook is perhaps the perfect example. He was a prep quarterback in Louisburg, Kansas, and then alternated before quarterback and wide receiver at Hutchinson Community College. He redshirted last season at Kansas State, and then stood out in his first true game action last Saturday, out jumping a defender on a 22-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter.
The Wildcats had nine different players catch passes against Stephen F. Austin, including unheralded sophomore Steven West, who also hauled in a touchdown pass.
"We saw that through our camp that we have a lot of depth at wide receiver," running back Charles Jones said. "It's really exciting to see all of them make big plays and score touchdowns. It was a real good sight for me because I know they can ball out this year."