MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Once heir apparent to Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein, Kansas State quarterback Daniel Sams will face some serious competition thanks to the signing of junior college transfer Jake Waters.
Out of all 32 members of the recruiting class announced by Kansas State on Wednesday, Waters might spark the most interest. He directed Iowa Western Community College to a national championship last season, passing for 3,501 yards.
Many had considered Sams the favorite for the starting job in 2013. The addition of Waters makes that much less certain - and that is exactly the way Kansas State coach Bill Snyder wants it.
"It will certainly advance Daniel's play and vice versa," Snyder said. "The greater competition you have at any position . the better opportunities for your people to improve their performance and feel compelled to do so and committed to do so, and I think both of them are, so it'll be - hopefully - good competition."
The NJCCA Offensive Player of the Year, Waters led his team to a 12-0 record in 2012. He completed 73.3 percent of his passes - an NJCCA record - and threw 39 touchdowns and just three picks. Snyder also saw less quantifiable characteristics that interested him in the quarterback.
"You can see some of the leadership aspect, not all of it, but you can see that there is a command presence there," Snyder said.
Waters is not the only Iowa Western signee with the potential to make a big impact early for the Wildcats. Defensive back Travis Green and defensive end Devon Nash, both Nebraska natives, also signed with Kansas State.
Nash is one of four defensive ends in the signing class. Depth at that position will be especially important as the Wildcats try to make up for the loss of Meshak Williams and Adam Davis, both All-Big 12 selections and pivotal members of the Kansas State team that went 11-2 last season.
Overall, the class is heavy on defense, with 18 of the 32 signees listed to play on that side of the ball. More players at those positions help create competition at spots vacated by Williams and Davis at defensive end; Arthur Brown, Jarell Childs and Justin Tuggle at linebacker; and Nigel Malone and Allen Chapman at defensive back.
Brown, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and a team captain, will be among the most difficult to replace. Seven linebackers signed Wednesday, but one in particular will likely garner the most attention - four-star prospect Nick Ramirez. Kansas State rarely lands four-star recruits, but it got one in the high school star from Lee's Summit, Mo., who recorded at least 115 tackles in both his sophomore and junior seasons.
He could contribute right away.
"You lose some linebackers, so I think that anybody that comes in, we'll certainly take a hard look at and see where he stands," Snyder said.
Kansas State seldom uses true freshmen, but with this class as with past ones, the coach said he is open to the possibility of freshmen playing. While many decide to redshirt, some do get opportunities at the very beginning of their careers there.
"My encouragement to young guys is don't make that decision right now," Snyder said. "Come in and compete as hard as you can, and when we get close, see where you are on the depth chart."