Sports

Vinton's Drew Wiley had big role in Kansas State's big upset of Oklahoma

Wiley's a senior defensive tackle who recovered a Sooner fumble during 24-point Wildcat run

Kansas State defensive tackle Drew Wiley (59) of Vinton arrives on the scene as teammate Robert Hentz II (15) tackles Ok
Kansas State defensive tackle Drew Wiley (59) of Vinton arrives on the scene as teammate Robert Hentz II (15) tackles Oklahoma running back T.J. Pledger (5) during K-State’s 38-35 upset of the Sooners last Saturday in Norman, Okla. (Ian Maule/Tulsa World via AP)

Here’s a story about a unheralded college football player from small-town Iowa who left the state with no chip whatsoever on his shoulder.

“I didn’t get a ton of attention, but I never expected to get a ton of attention,” Vinton’s Drew Wiley said Tuesday. “When I got any attention at all it came as a surprise to me. I was just thankful for the opportunities that I had and thankful to the people that looked at me.”

Bill Snyder and his Kansas State staff offered a scholarship to Vinton-Shellsburg offensive tackle/nose guard Wiley in the spring of 2016, and the player happily accepted. Last Saturday, he was a starting senior defensive tackle in K-State’s 38-35 upset at No. 3 Oklahoma.

“Talk about an amazing day,” Wiley said.

Oh yeah. In the midst of the Wildcats scoring the game’s last 24 points to overcome a 35-14 deficit, Wiley recovered an Oklahoma fumble late in the third quarter.

“It was a really cool moment,” he said. “That was in the part of the game where it was starting to turn in our favor and we were starting to get a little momentum. It was a huge play that Jahron McPherson made. I was lucky enough to be right there behind the hit and just hopped on the ball.”

There’s not some wild story to how Wiley became a Wildcat. Well, other than Snyder and then co-offensive coordinator Del Miller offering him a spot on their team in the first place. He was on some all-state teams, but Vinton-Shellsburg won only five games over Wiley’s junior and senior seasons and wasn’t given very many stars by those who rank recruits.

“I had a little bit of interest from Iowa and Iowa State, and some FCS schools,” he said. “After my junior year I went to some prospect camps at Iowa, Iowa State and Kansas State. About a week after I went to camp at Kansas State they offered me a scholarship to play O-line here. I kind of waited a little bit to see what was going to happen.

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“They called me a little later and said ‘We’re full at O-line, but we’d like to take you at D-line.' I committed right there on the spot.”

His first two career starts have come this month, but Wiley has played in all of K-State’s games since the start of the 2017 season when he jumped right in as a first-year freshman.

“I had a great opportunity when I got here and tried to work hard,” said Wiley. “We didn’t have a ton of depth at defensive tackle when I got here. So I was able to have the opportunity to play a little bit, mostly on short-yardage and goal-line situations and on field goal-block.”

College Football Hall of Famer Snyder retired after the 2018 season. A coaching change can be stressful for returning players, but replacement Chris Klieman and his staff gave Wiley a fair shake and continued to put him to use. He got his first-career quarterback sack in the season-opener, a home loss to Arkansas State.

“Coach Snyder, what a legendary guy,” Wiley said. “And then Coach Klieman came in and has been absolutely tremendous, too. It’s worked out really well, and I’ve had a really great experience down here.”

Klieman went to Kansas State from North Dakota State, where he coached four national-championship teams. His Waterloo hometown is only a 40-minute drive from Vinton.

So, Wiley has learned from two of the best. He is a learner, by the way. He was a first-team Academic All-Big 12 honoree last year. His major is animal science and industry.

“I grew up on a hog operation,” Wiley said. “That’s what my family does. We run about 2,000 sows just north of Vinton.

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“Ultimately, someday I want to come back and be involved in the family operation and animal science is a pretty good way to do that and make myself an asset to the company.”

For now, there is a Big 12 title to chase. With that win at Oklahoma to start league play, K-State is on top of the conference until somebody does something about it.

It was the second-straight year Wiley played in a Wildcats victory over the Sooners, who haven’t lost to anyone else in the Big 12 in that time.

“Not many people can say their record against Oklahoma is 2-2,” he said.

Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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