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.
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