Picture this: On Thursday night’s opening drive, Joe Hubener drops back to pass. Amidst a blitz of Baylor Bear defenders and groans from Wildcat fans who want to see the rushing attack, he spots a receiver streaking open downfield. Hubener unleashes a heave, true to the Bazooka Joe nickname. While many long pass attempts have gone awry this season, this one lands snugly in the down-soft hands of a very familiar face. Touchdown… Tyler Lockett?

Sure, it’s pure fantasy, but fantasy is what many consider K-State’s chances of beating Baylor on Thursday night. Word is that Las Vegas is only accepting bets on the game in the form of Schrute Bucks and dragon eggs.

With hope considered make-believe, why not embrace it? Today, we’re considering the question, “Which former Wildcat would be the best addition to the 2015 Wildcats?” The article your reading is titled in such manner, so you should have had time to consider the answer by now. That said, here are the top candidates. (Please remember, we’re talking about going back in time to get these players in their collegiate prime. I don’t want to hear any comments about adding 40-year-olds. This is a very sophisticated topic meant to be taken seriously… You know, like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Michael Bishop 

Kansas State football

Credentials: Heisman Trophy runner-up to Ricky Williams in 1998. Davey O’Brien Award Winner (a neat little trophy given to the top quarterback in college football). Led K-State to its first-ever Big 12 Championship Game. Finished with a 22-3 record as a starter at K-State. Ran well enough to start at running back for most programs in the country, but also threw with more force than any quarterback to ever play at K-State.

How he’d fit: You know this offense that’s sputtering with Hubener at the helm (LAST in the big 12 in total offense)? That’s built for Michael Bishop. He could make any throw that was asked of him, and sometimes the throws that were never advised. And if a play broke down, Bishop was running. At that point, Bishop had one thought in mind: end zone. A defender might take him down, but they had to earn it. The offense would be on Bishop’s shoulders. And he’d smile as he lowered those shoulders into yet another safety.

Darren Sproles 

25 October 2003: K-State player Darren Sproles runs a punt return past KU player's for a touchdown in Kansas State Universities win 42-6 over Kansas University in Manhattan, KS. (Photo Courtesy of K-State Athletics)

Credentials: K-State’s all-time leading rusher (by 2,000 yards!). One of the most likable players in the history of the universe. Able to transcend space-time with his juke moves.

Warning: Be very careful about searching for Sproles highlights on YouTube. I tried it one wintry Saturday morning… Three days later my wife interrupted asking if I was really going to miss another day of work.

How he’d fit: If you’re reading this, odds are good that at some point this season you have shouted to the heavens, “Just run the (adjective of choice here) ball!” If Sproles were in the Wildcat backfield, they would. Dogged by many for being undersized, Sproles let people keep thinking that. Meanwhile, he ran around them, past them, and occasionally through them. We’ve seen a spark from Charles Jones in the running game in recent weeks. With Sproles, that’s all-out blaze all over the field.

Tyler Lockett 

WR Tyler Lockett

Credentials: Consensus All-American. Owner of 2,236 team records (number approximate). Best route-runner I have ever seen. Equally dangerous as a receiver and returning kicks.

How he’d fit: Passing game struggles (if you measure by yards per game, the Wildcats currently have the second-worst passing offense in the Big 12) are not all on the quarterback. Wildcat receivers have struggled getting open and catching the ball, which are two somewhat important facets of being a wide receiver. Lockett solves both problems. There were times in Lockett’s career where I would have to rewind a live football game (thanks, technology) in attempt to comprehend how he had put 12 yards between himself and the nearest defender on a pass route. Hubener likes to show off his arm strength. Lockett would make a pretty nice target for those bombs. But wait, there’s more*… you are also adding one of the most dangerous return men in school history.

*If you didn’t read that out loud in your best infomercial voice, please go back and try. 

Mark SimoneauHSXCOUBLKMPNTGP.20120515183705

Credentials: Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 1999. College Football Hall of Famer. Leader of one of the most dominant defensive units in K-State history.

How he’d fit: K-State is currently allowing 417 yards per game. That’s actually good for fifth in the conference, but still… 417? Plug Simoneau in at a linebacker spot and that number is falling like so many ball carriers who found themselves in Simoneau’s way. Simoneau was a thinking-man’s linebacker, but the sort who would crush you for interrupting his thought process. Furthermore, with Dante Barnett gone, the defensive unit has been missing a natural leader. Meet Mark Simoneau.

Terence Newman 

2003-04-01-inside-newmanCredentials: Jim Thorpe Award winner (for the best defensive back in college football) in 2002. Unanimous All-American. World-class sprinter.

How he’d fit: The Wildcats’ pass defense is the third-worst in the conference. If only they had a shutdown cornerback. The sort who would make opposing quarterbacks wary of even thinking of considering throwing the football to one side of the field. Newman was that guy. He would lock receivers down in man coverage. He would support the run. And if he made a mistake, his speed – the sort that made people seek consultations from their optometrists – would allow him to catch up and correct it. Furthermore, he returned kicks and, in a pinch, Newman could play a little wide receiver.

 

That’s my list of top candidates. Odds are strong that you have a problem with it. Where’s Collin Klein? Where’s Jordy Nelson? Where’s Bryce Brown? (Umm… Nix that last one.)  If you think there’s a better option, write in your choice in the poll below.

Which former Wildcat would you like to see added to this 2015 team? Let us know.

Sure, it’s fantasy, but I like the thought of Lockett back on the field, shaking free of his own shadow, or Newman returning an interception to the promised land. Those thoughts will be my “happy place,” if needed Thursday evening.

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Author’s note: This post was written at 3:30 p.m. CT on Nov. 1. You’re welcome. Had I written it any later, it would contain nothing but the word “ROYALS” repeated ad naseum. 

About The Author

Hi, I’m Derek Larson. You might remember me from such autobiographical blurbs as “Yo Soy Derek” and “Paste Blurb Here.” I was born and raised in the Manhattan area and I graduated from Kansas State University in 2005. Now I’m now adjusting to life in the land of husking corn. My groom’s cake was a Powercat and I was once convinced that the future of Wildcat basketball was a seven-foot volleyball player. I’ve written about K-State sports in different capacities, often without people asking me to. My hobbies include bringing more purple to Lincoln, Neb., and making vague (and not-so-vague) references to The Simpsons. Follow me on Twitter at @dereklarson.

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