MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — We’re a long way from the Optimus Klein rage of 2012, yet Kansas State’s current quarterback seems on the verge of a transformative season.
Jesse Ertz, so gangly and lumbering, has recovered from the throwing shoulder injury that limited him throughout the second half of 2016. Limited him physically, that is. Mentally he became sharper and more willing to facilitate the systemized weapons around him.
West Virginia’s defense flummoxed Ertz in Morgantown. He completed only 10 of 30 passes, threw an interception into double coverage, and gained only 25 yards on 12 carries. Save for that woeful performance, Ertz had a steady junior season, one in which his production improved while coping with a bum shoulder during Kansas State’s 5-1 finish.
Ertz rushed for 1,012 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he saved his best passing game for the Texas Bowl upset of Texas A&M. Now he’s leading the most talented and balanced offense since Colline Klein rumbled the Wildcats to a Big 12 title five years ago.
Ertz makes an appearance in today’s Gold & Blue Lunch Report, where our countdown of the Big 12’s top 50 players continues with Nos. 35-31.
Previous — Big 12’s Top 50 players: 40-36
36. Oklahoma State receiver Jalen McClesky
37. Oklahoma linebacker Caleb Kelly
38. TCU safety Nick Orr
39. Texas quarterback Shane Buechele
40. West Virginia cornerback Corey Winfield
Previous — Big 12’s Top 50 players: 45-41
41. Texas Tech receiver Keke Coutee
42. West Virginia linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton
43. Oklahoma receiver Jeff Badet
44. Oklahoma State linebacker Chad Whitener
45. Kansas running back Octavious Matthews
Previous — Big 12’s Top 50 players: 50-46
46. West Virginia receiver Ka’Raun White
47. Kansas State running back Alex Barnes
48. Oklahoma State safety Ramon Richards
49. TCU quarterback Kenny Hill
50. Kansas State receiver Byron Pringle