March 27, 2008

Prince ushers in spring practices

Kansas State continues to finalize its non-conference schedule, will be without four players due to academics in spring practice and will close practices until its spring game on April 19. But head coach Ron Prince[db] opened his news conference two days before the start of spring drills with a cheery approach that was prevalent among his players as they look to move past the disappointment of last season.

"Happy New Year, everybody," Prince announced.

Translation: The Wildcats' 5-7 campaign in 2007 that was capped by a 45-29 loss at Fresno State for their fourth straight loss, is officially behind them.

However, K-State will face a couple off-field issues as it embarks on 15 spring practices Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Prince indicated the status of a scheduled game against Fresno State on Sept. 6 remains unclear and he also announced Big 12 Newcomer of the Year [db]Deon Murphy and three others will not participate in the spring due to academic concerns. A pair of outside linebackers in senior Chris Patterson and junior Ross Diehl, and junior offensive lineman Eric Benoit join Murphy on the list.

"I'm going to ask them to focus on their academic work," Prince said. "That's ultimately the reason that they're here and we want them to be serious about it."

Meanwhile, record-setting quarterback Josh Freeman, who is eager to use last season to fuel his junior year as he remains on the verge of eclipsing virtually every career passing record at K-State, is adamant about helping to put the Wildcats back on track in a serious fashion.

"It hurts the way we came out and couldn't really handle our business in the last four games," Freeman said. "Then again, that's what happens when you don't win games. There's been a big emphasis on this offseason doing everything we can to get ready for next season.

"This offseason I've been working as hard as I can and I really feel like we have a family going. Going into a fairly long season you need everybody to be on your side. The offseason is about building family."

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