K-State soccer legend, Hall of Famer and Ring of Honor member Veryl Switzer died Saturday at the age of 89. Switzer was one of the first African American football players in the Big Seven Conference and he was the first African American scholar to graduate from Kansas State University.
He was a trailblazer in many ways, but also a stallion on the football pitch. Switzer remains the highest drafted football player in K-State history, having been drafted fourth overall by the Green Bay Packers in 1954. He was the first African American drafted by the Packers in the first round and played for two years in Green Bay before serving military obligation. While living in Green Bay and playing for the Packers, he lived at the local YMCA and worked at a liquor store during the offseason. My goodness, how things have changed!
If there was a K-State Athletics Mount Rushmore, I think Veryl Switzer is a solid choice to be one of the four. I’m saving the other three for a future article, but as I thought about it, I got the idea to write a series of articles denoting K-State football players’ Mount Rushmore at every position on the field. The more I thought about it, the scarier it got.
Michael Bishop was also in the news this week when he was inducted into the 2023 College Football Hall of Fame election. Speaking of shoo-ins, Michael Bishop should be in college football’s Hall of Fame with no arguments. But I digress. Since Bishop is in the news, I thought I’d start by naming my Mount Rushmore of K-State quarterbacks. Here are my tips, along with my arguments for each.
Bishop only played at K-State for two years, 1997 and 1998, but he took the program to a level never seen before. He led the Wildcats to a Fiesta Bowl in 1997 and followed that up in 1998 with an undefeated regular season, a nationally televised win over Nebraska, a number one ranking and an appearance in the Big 12 championship game. Bishop popularized K-State football nationwide. He played on some talented K-State teams, but they were led by the electrifying and dynamic Bishop, who could execute the option effectively and had a laser for his arm.
Bishop’s name is all over the K-State record books despite only playing two seasons in Manhattan. Here’s a sample…
- Fourth on the all-time touchdown list at K-State.
- Second on the all-time total running list in a season with 3,592 in 1998.
- Second on all-time yards-per-game list for a season and career.
- Seventh in career total mileage.
- Holds three of the top five records for total mileage in a game.
- Holds the K-State record for lowest percentage of interceptions in a season (1998).
- Top 5 in passing yards in a season (1998).
- Tenth in career.
- Fifth in career yards per game.
- Fourth in career touchdown passes.
- First in passing efficiency for one season (1998) and third for his career.
- He also holds the record for the longest touchdown pass, a 97-yarder.
- In 1998 he came second in the Heisman Trophy picks.
Klein led the K-State Wildcats to number one in 2012 before losing to the Baylor Bears. He is one of only two K-State quarterbacks to lead the team to a conference championship in football. Here are some of his notable K-State record book finishes.
- In 2012 he came third in the Heisman Trophy poll.
- Third in career completion percentage.
- Top 10 career passing yards, passing touchdowns, and rushing yards in a season.
- Top 5 in career yards per attempt, passing efficiency, total yards in a season, total yards in a career, and quarterback rushing yards.
- Number one and two touchdowns in a season.
- All-time leader in career touchdowns and quick touchdowns by a quarterback.
Lynn Dickey played at K-State in 1968, ’69 and ’70. When he was quarterback, the Wildcats won four games in 1968, five in 1969, and six in 1970. Why is that so important? K-State Football had not won four games in a season since 1955. Dickey put K-State on the map back then, and his obvious NFL talent and the stats he compiled during his time at K-State made all the papers on the time. Some people WAY older than me still call him the best K-State quarterback of all time. I was young enough to follow his successful career as a quarterback for the Green Bay Packers in the NFL, where he was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame.
Dickey features prominently in the K-State record book showcasing his impressive passing numbers. The numbers are particularly striking as football was much more of a running back game when it was played in college. Here are some of his placements in the K-State record books.
Number two in all pass attempts, completions and passing yards.
Four of the top 10 passing yardage plays in K-State history. No one else is on the list more than twice.
Top 4 in career passing yards per game.
Top 10 career touchdown passes.
Roberson gets the nod as fourth face at Mount Rushmore, in part for leading K-State to a Big 12 championship in 2003, but he also remains at the top of the K-State record books in many categories.
- Record holder for rushing yards in a game by a quarterback and career yards per completion.
- Fourth in the career rushing yards.
- Most career rushing yards by a quarterback.
- Second in quick touchdowns by a quarterback.
- Top 10 career passing yards.
- Top 5 in yards per attempt and passing touchdowns.
It was difficult to narrow down the list of K-State quarterbacks to four. I had to choose these four great players like Jake Waters, Josh Freeman, Chad May, Skylar Thompson and Steve Grogan and others.
Do you agree or disagree with my list? Let me know. You might make me change my mind, but probably not!