MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - For one night, Kansas State quarterback and team captain Skylar Thompson thought Jonathan Alexander was a dog, not a Cat.
"He said for me stripping the ball and running for a score, that was some dog stuff," Alexander said. "So he gave me the sledgehammer."
That sledgehammer has the words "dog mentality" on it. The hammers are part of a new tradition from head coach Chris Klieman. After every game, he lets K-State's captains give hammers with different words they chose ("accountability," "limitless," etc.) that they want to define the KSU program to players they think exemplify those messages.
"We just want to be able to highlight not just the guys who are out there but also okay, who's the guy who was a great team leader this week," KSU defensive back and captain Denzel Goolsby said. "Who's a guy who maybe contributed on scout team and really helped us prepare for this win?"
"It brings our team together as well because it shows that you're seeing your teammate's success and you're recognizing them in front of the football team," Thompson said. "Denzel, he presented his hammer to the whole scout team. Adam Holtorf gave his hammer to the whole second offensive line that came in and drove the ball to score."
"Obviously, everybody is putting forth effort," Goolsby said. "But when you are able to make those big plays, it's nice when you get some recognition for it. And I think it's really cool that we recognize those guys because it gives them the awareness that their team really cares about them."
Alexander surely felt that love after he forced a fumble and returned it for a touchdown against Nicholls.
"It really felt good because I mean, I worked all summer for it, all spring," Alexander said. "So I know it's going noticed."
"I was trying to think of somebody who just made a great play or multiple plays that was very impressive and was playing aggressive," Thompson said. "You could tell how excited our football team was. And it was a special moment in the game. I felt like he deserved that."
And it's another proving point for the junior defensive back that this group of Wildcats is as close as any team he's been around.
"I've never been in a room like this in my life," Alexander said. "These dudes want to compete. These dudes want to be the best. But at the same time, we all want to see the best for each other."