February 7, 2008

Fans hear from staff about recruits

The crowd of 400 gatherers ambled out of various parts of the Vanier Football Complex on Wednesday night. While some emerged from the Kansas State players' lounge, where they watched highlights of the K-State football signees, others vacated the Big Eight Room. A lady paused before leaving the team meeting room, though, where more than 100 sat in the same chairs regularly occupied by the Wildcats. She had to take a photo that maybe best summed up the event's purpose.

A sign above the door read the mission statement, which defined, in part, the desire to build a fast, strong and disciplined team that is in contention for championships.

Coming off a disappointing 5-7 season, including 3-5 in the Big 12, third-year coach Ron Prince hopes this class, which is ranked No. 28 nationally by Rivals.com, will help to make that a possibility really soon.

Standing beside the doorway, wearing a lavender dress shirt and a tie, Prince personally thanked nearly every loyalist as they left the room.

"Go get 'em! Go get 'em! Go get 'em!" a smiling lady wailed, clenching her fist and walking away.

"Thank you," Prince said.

The long day, which started with the steady hum of the fax machine and buzzing cell phones, and which ran into an afternoon news conference and a radio show appearance before the annual signing day party, could have seemed a lot longer.

But Prince allowed himself a sigh of relief while he stood in the back of the dark meeting room, watching the highlights of his recruiting class one more time while spectators gasped in witnessing outside linebacker Josh Berard turn himself into a quarterback-seeking missile, while they went "ewe!" in witnessing defensive end Brandon Harold smash a quarterback after a two-step drop, and while they went "ohhh!" in witnessing wide receivers Aubrey Quarles and Attrail Snipes catch ball after ball after ball over junior college defensive backs on the post route.

Yes, Chris Harper spurned the Wildcats following the departure of James Franklin back in late December.

On signing day, though, things went as planned: K-State got its guys. Not every BCS team could say as much.

"It was probably one of the wackiest days of college football recruiting that I've witnessed in a long time," Prince said. "When you get home and watch the news, you're going to hear some stories about some kids signing at the last minute today. This was crazy. We were able to keep all of our guys intact and it was because our coaches did a great job."

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