Friday Five: Top performers in non-conference play

Kansas State is off to a 2-1 start, and after a disappointing loss to Tulane they prepare for conference play to begin. Time to take a look at the top performers through the non-conference portion of the Wildcats slate and if they can keep up their strong starts.

1. Deuce Vaughn – RB

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the All-American running back is the top performer for the Wildcats after the first 25% of the season. If not for cramps in the third quarter against Tulane, Vaughn would have likely been over the 100-yard rushing mark again. Even in the midst of fewer carries than what Vaughn would have liked to see against Tulane, he is still the leading rusher in the Big 12.

Vaughn’s 352 rushing yards are 30 more than the next closest rusher, Bijan Robinson of Texas. Vaughn and Robinson are the only two in the conference that have cracked the 300-yard mark after three games. An important thing to note with the play of Vaughn to start the season, more than ever he has been singled out by opponents. It felt as if Tulane did a good job of shutting him down, but he was still over four yards per carry.

2. Daniel Green – LB

I have been impressed with Daniel Green to start the 2022 season, especially after the plays he made against Tulane. Green now has an interception in the last two games, and he helped force another one against Tulane that is credited to Kobe Savage. The two turnovers he helped force against the Green Wave came in critical moments and kept the Wildcats’ hopes of a win alive. Green has also been great in stopping the run this season and leading the linebackers. He is also the second-ranked defensive player on the roster according to Pro Football Focus.

3. Felix Anudike-Uzomah – DE

Despite just 2.5 sacks to this point in the season, Felix Anudike-Uzomah has still been really good. He puts a ton of pressure on the opposing offensive line and has helped slow plays up front. The aforementioned PFF ranks Anudike-Uzomah as the best defender for K-State, and in the Big 12, he is second among all defensive players with at least 100 snaps. The next step for the talented defensive end is adding to his sack totals, especially with conference play starting against Oklahoma.

4. Cooper Beebe – OL

Ideally, for the Wildcats, Cooper Beebe would not be on this list. That isn’t a knock on him or how he has played because he has been great as a protector for Adrian Martinez this season. But needing to highlight an offensive lineman when it comes to who has been a top performer this season is never a good sign for an offense. Ideally, this would be Martinez or Malik Knowles, instead, it goes to Beebe.

Beebe is a possible first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft and his stock has not dipped at all with the start to his season. Most notably picking up a massive block on a Martinez touchdown run earlier this season.

5. Kobe Savage

Another Wildcat defender with multiple interceptions, but Savage made his presence felt early in the year and continues to be a strong member of the Wildcat defense. Flying to the football and knocking opponents backwards certainly helps you get noticed. Savage has helped lead a secondary from a question mark to strength early in the season. Another nice note with each play made by Savage is the energy they seem to provide. There is a little extra juice when it comes to Savage’s plays.

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