Kansas State football fans, relax. I think new coach Chris Klieman is going to be just fine.
Some supporters of the purple are feeling uneasy with the retirement of Bill Moses Snyder, who of course authored the greatest turnaround in college football history.
Klieman’s hiring caused a smattering of rumblings because he wasn’t a former coach or coordinator at one of the Power 5 Conferences.
But he was the head coach at North Dakota State, the sub-division champions. His teams are renowned for being tough, physical and no-nonsense. The man knows nothing but winning and he’s not about to change his ways now.
Tales of Klieman’s recruiting prowess have come out bits at a time, but on Wednesday during National Signing Day he announced a healthy class of 23.
I have a feeling Klieman is going to be like Snyder in terms of evaluating talent, unearthing gems that others overlooked. After all, Alex Barnes didn’t arrive in Manhattan with a lot of fanfare and became the best running back in the Big 12.
Unlike Snyder, though, Klieman is not afraid to be effusive in his praise of his newcomers. You had to do detective work when Snyder would announce recruits, because he kept information close to the vest.
Klieman is gushing about the first KSU signee from Florida in 10 years, Joshua Youngblood. He used the words “electric” and “steal of the class” when describing perhaps the most impact recruit since Tyler Lockett. Even though he was a 2,000-yard rusher, Klieman wants him to be a receiver as he’s a home-run hitter.
Klieman, in fact, has loaded up on skill players. With the loss of the top three running backs, he secured Ball State graduate transfer James Gilbert, who has a big-time reputation and is a proven commodity as he rushed for more than 2,000 yards in his career. Kleiman signed three freshmen running back and Youngblood also can move there if needed. When you watched Klieman’s North Dakota State teams, it was all about a punishing ground game.
He also signed a couple of quarterbacks and a couple of receivers, plus a tight end. He said he wants his tight ends to be “glorified tackles.”
Klieman also did well in state. In what had to be a stunning blow for new KU coach Les Miles, he plucked Lawrence Free State All-Stater Jax Dineen from right under his nose. His brother, Joe, is a future KU Ring of Honor recipient and the younger Dineen may be even more powerful. Klieman also landed mammoth offensive tackle Cooper Beebe from KC Piper — I have a feeling his offensive line is going to be mountainous — and offensive lineman Taylor Poitier from Miege, which is a football factory. It will be interesting to see the in-state battles between Klieman and Miles in the coming years after Snyder basically owned the state the last 25 years.
Of course most recruits look impressive on paper. Coaches have to get them on campus and coach them up. But from everything I’ve seen and heard about Klieman, I believe the Wildcats have themselves a winner.