MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) – The threshold for climbing into Kansas State coach Bill Snyder’s good graces is quite high.
Take the case of running back Charles Jones, who earned an uneven grade despite gashing Texas on Saturday because of his goal-line fumble. Or quarterback Jesse Ertz, whose near-flawless first half was followed by a tough second half that drew Snyder’s infamous ire.
That may be why defensive end Jordan Willis has stood out so much.
The senior had a pair of sacks in Saturday’s 24-21 victory , giving him 22 1/2 for his career and moving him past Monty Beisel for fourth-most in school history. Willis also tied for the team lead with seven tackles, including three for a loss, and batted down a crucial pass at the line of scrimmage.
It led to a glowing review from Snyder, no qualifiers involved.
“Jordan just plays so hard and he prepares exactly that way,” the 77-year-old coach said. “There is not one-tenth of a second of any snap that he takes that is not the best effort that he can give. I admire him and appreciate him so very much.”
That’s the flip-side of the high bar that Snyder sets. When you manage to achieve it, the feeling is almost otherworldly – like a player has somehow qualified for the most exclusive of clubs.
Willis has managed to scratch and claw his way in over the past four years.