MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- There might not be anyone more excited about Kansas State's running backs corps than redshirt junior Alex Barnes.
Kansas State running back Alex Barnes (34) in the second half during an NCAA college football bowl game against UCLA, Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017, in Phoenix. Kansas State defeated UCLA 35-17. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
As one of the Big 12 Conference's top rushers from 2017, and the second-fastest Wildcat to reach 1,000 career rushing yards, there's a lot to look forward to from him, as well.
"Every facet of what we do, he's doing well," said K-State head coach Bill Snyder. "He's making the right decisions, picks holes well, he runs the ball aggressively, runs with his pads down, his pass protection and run blocking and not taking a step backwards. He's catching the ball well out of the back field. So he's doing all of it, I think, quite well."
In 2016, Barnes had one of the best seasons at the position by a rookie in school history. Then in 2017, he tacked on 819 rushing yards, averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
This year, he expects the trend to continue.
"We're finishing 20 yards on every run, even if the defense pushes us, knocks us down," Barnes said. "We have to get up and finish at the cone. It's just extra stuff after practices. We're taking a whole different mentality to running the football this year."
But also this year, Barnes isn't alone in the backfield.
"It's been a healthy competition," Barnes said. "Each of us are pushing each other to be our best. we know what we've got. We know that all four of us could play pretty much anywhere so it's one of those things to where if we could really bring it all together, it could be a special year for us. I think we've all done a good job of not taking that for granted."
Barnes plays a big role in 'bringing it all together.' He's ranked the No. 11 pass blocker in the nation by Pro Football Focus.
"Most plays that I'm in, I'm not going to be getting the ball--it's going to be a pass play or some other concept that we do, so I take pride in every aspect of the game and not just running the football," Barnes said.
Even through all his successes, Barnes knows there's still work to be done.
"Just be more physical more of the time," Barnes said. "Sometimes I'd be looking for a big play when maybe there wasn't anything there. It's just really about knowing situations and knowing when to try to make your move or when you've got to put your nose in the dirt and just get what you can get."