MANHATTAN, Kan. — The loss of six senior starters on defense provided Bill Snyder with a clear direction when building his 2014 signing class.
Snyder turned to the junior college ranks and reeled in a group that is headlined by two highly touted players in defensive tackle Terrell Clinkscales and linebacker D’Vonta Derricott.
Kansas State announced 27 signings Wednesday, with eight coming from community colleges. Five of those are defensive players.
"Every community college guy that we have, we have a firm and honest belief that they have a chance to come in and compete immediately and to help this program," Snyder said. "All of them and with incoming freshman certainly have that over a period of time."
Derricott holds an immediate opportunity to step in for departing senior linebacker Tre Walker. Despite a late recruiting push from Miami (Fla.), the Garden City Community College product honored his longstanding commitment to the Wildcats.
Clinkscales, who had previously committed to Nebraska, chose the Wildcats over offers from the Cornhuskers as well as Alabama, Ohio State and Oregon. The 2013 second-team NJCAA All-American tallied 40 tackles and helped Dodge City Community College to a 6-4 overall record.
Ryan Mueller’s return gives the Wildcats an important piece moving forward, but finding a group to step alongside the reigning Big 12 defensive lineman of the year was a priority. The Wildcats didn’t lose a commitment from the beginning of the day and added a late signing in linebacker Isaiah Riddle from Scottsdale Community College.
The mid-year entries of Danzel McDaniel from Dodge City, Luke Hayes of Butler Community College and Andre Davis of Santa Rosa Junior College were also officially announced on Wednesday.
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After rebounding from a 2-4 start last season, the Wildcats finished 8-5 with a 31-14 victory against Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Kansas State will return 11 starters when it opens spring practices on April 2. Practices will conclude with the annual spring game on April 26. The Wildcats season opens on Aug. 30 against Stephen F. Austin.
National rankings (Rivals 52; Scout 57)
Best in class: D’Vonta Derricott, lb, Henrico, Va.
Best of the rest: Terrell Clinkscales, dt, Maywood, Ill.; Dalvin Warmack, rb, Blue Springs, Mo.; Dalton Risner, ol, Wiggins, Colo.; Elijah Lee, lb, Blue Springs, Mo.
Late addition: Isaiah Riddle, lb, Newnan, Ga., picked the Wildcats on signing day over Memphis and Louisville despite never visiting the school.
One that got away: Aaron Sharp, qb, Humble, Texas, who committed to Kansas State last July but switched to UCLA in January.
NOTE: The Wildcats hope Derricott and Clinkscales fill two of the biggest holes. Derricott was courted by nearly every Big 12 school while Clinkscales switched his commitment from Nebraska.