Klieman tries to fill need for speed with signing class

MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - Speed wasn't a bad theme for Chris Klieman's first Kansas State signing class. That didn't just apply to football.

Like Les Miles at Kansas, the new Wildcat head coach didn't have a whole lot of time to recruit. But he found some needed speed on the field and in commitments throughout his class of 23 signees.

"We were trying to find kids that can really run," Klieman said. "It’s difficult when you are going late to see how many kids you can flip and all those other things. We wanted to find guys that wanted to come to Kansas State.

"And when we would reach out to young men and we talked about Kansas State, if we could get them excited quickly, then we were going to stay in on them. If we couldn’t get them excited quickly, then in my mind they probably weren’t going to be a good fit anyway."

A key focus for the Wildcats would be their skill positions, particularly running back. Kansas State loses its top three backs in Alex Barnes, Dalvin Warmack and Justin Silmon.

So K-State signed four running backs. They include James Gilbert, a transfer from Ball State who rushed for 2,806 yards and 30 touchdowns there.

"I have been really been impressed with his movement skills and his ability to burst," Klieman said. "I do not expect James to come in and lead an offense. I expect him to stay humble, learn from the guys and how to do it the Kansas State way. I appreciate the people he is following right now. They are the right guys to follow. I am excited for his skill set to fit well in our system.”

Then there's Thomas Grayson, who hails from the same high school in Tulsa, Okla. as K-State great Tyler Lockett.

“He’s really fast – 10.7 hundred meter," Klieman said. "He catches the ball out of the backfield, so in our system he can flex out and be a slot guy, he can be in the backfield, be a special teams guy, be a return guy. We’re excited as well. Jason Ray is from Tulsa, Jason’s our wide receivers coach.

"So, we are going to continue there but the Lockett name, it resonates with these kids and we are going to continue to utilize the Lockett name as well as many other names."

The full list of K-State signees can be seen below:

Cooper Beebe/DT/6-3/329/Kansas City, Kan. (Piper HS)

Jax Dineen/FB/5-11/230/Lawrence, Kan. (Free State HS)

Khalid Duke/LB/6-4/225/Atlanta, Ga. (Riverside Military Academy)

Joe Ervin/RB/5-10/190/Rock Hill, S.C. (South Pointe HS)

Konner Fox/TE/6-5/225/San Antonio, Texas (Reagan HS)

Keenan Garber/WR/6-0/175/Lawrence, Kan. (Free State HS)

Kenny Givens/DT/6-4/272/Chicago, Ill. (Hubbard HS)

Thomas Grayson/RB/6-0/190/Tulsa, Okla. (Booker T. Washington HS)

Chris Herron/QB/6-1/194/Houston, Texas (Langham Creek HS)

Will Jones II/DB/5-11/170/Mansfield, Texas (Summit)

Jaren Lewis/QB/6-3/215/Columbia, Mo. (Battle HS)

Tyrone Lewis/DB/6-0/190/Hammond, La. (Hammond HS)

Taylor Poitier/OL/6-3/260/Shawnee, Kan. (Bishop Miege HS)

Matthew Pola-Mao/DT/6-3/309/Chandler, Ariz. (Chandler HS)

Clyde Price/RB/6-1/220/Kansas City, Mo. (North Kansas City HS)

Kenyon Reed/DB/6-0/165/Long Beach, Calif. (Long Beach Poly HS)

Trevor Stange/OL/6-4/272/Coppell, Texas (Coppell HS)

Logan Wilson/DB/5-11/170/Dallas, Texas (Bishop Dunne HS)

Joshua Youngblood/WR/5-11/170/Tampa, Fla. (Berkeley Prep)

Jonathan Alexander/DB/6-3/205/Fort Worth, Texas (Kilgore College)

Ty Zentner/P/K/6-2/185/Topeka, Kan. (Butler CC)

James Gilbert/RB/5-9/198/Indianapolis, Ind. (Ball State)

Marcus Hayes/DB/6-0/192/Rockford, Ill. (Univ. of New Mexico)