Kansas State is off to a 2-1 start, and after a disappointing loss to Tulane, they are gearing up for conference play to begin. It’s time to take a look at the top performers across the Wildcats’ non-conference portion of the roster and whether they can keep up their strong starts.
1. Deuce Vaughn – RB
It should come as no surprise that the All-American running back is the Wildcats’ best player after the first 25% of the season. If it hadn’t been for the third-quarter cramps against Tulane, Vaughn probably would have broken the 100-yard rushing mark again. Even amid fewer carries than Vaughn would have liked to see against Tulane, he’s still the top running back in the Big 12.
Vaughn’s 352 rushing yards are 30 more than the next closest running back, Bijan Robinson of Texas. Vaughn and Robinson are the only two in the conference to top the 300-yard mark after three games. One important thing to note with Vaughn’s play to start the season, more than ever has been pointed out by opponents. He felt like Tulane had done a good job of stopping him, but he still had more than 4 yards a carry.
2. Daniel Green – AB
I’ve been impressed by Daniel Green to start the 2022 season, especially after the plays he made against Tulane. Green now has an interception in the last two games, and he helped force another against Tulane that is attributed to Kobe Savage. The two turnovers he helped force against Green Wave came at critical moments and kept the Wildcats’ hopes of victory alive. Green has also been excellent at stopping the run this season and leading linebackers. He is also the second ranked defensive player on the list according to Pro Football Focus.
3. Felix Anudike-Uzomah – DE
Despite only 2.5 sacks to this point in the season, Felix Anudike-Uzomah has been really good. He puts a lot of pressure on the opposing offensive line and has helped slow down plays up front. The aforementioned PFF ranks Anudike-Uzomah as the best defender in K-State, and in the Big 12, he is second among all defensive players with at least 100 snaps. The next step for the talented defensive end is to increase his sack total, especially with the conference game starting against Oklahoma.
4. Cooper Beebe – OL
Ideally, for the Wildcats, Cooper Beebe wouldn’t be on this list. That’s not a knock on him or how he’s played because he’s been a great protector for Adrian Martinez this season. But the need to highlight an offensive lineman when it comes to who has performed better this season is never a good sign for an offense. Ideally, this would be Martinez or Malik Knowles, instead it goes to Beebe.
Beebe is a possible first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft and his stock hasn’t dipped at all with the start of his season. Most notably, him picking up a massive block on a Martinez touchdown run earlier this season.
5. Kobe Savage
Another Wildcat defender with multiple interceptions, but Savage made his presence felt earlier in the year and continues to be a strong member of the Wildcat defense. Flying towards the ball and knocking down opponents certainly helps you get noticed. Savage has helped lead a secondary from a question mark to force early in the season. Another nice note with every play made by Savage is the energy they seem to provide. There’s a little extra juice when it comes to Savage’s plays.