July 11, 2007

Dynamic duo

Kansas State doesn't have much to worry about at running back with the return of both Leon Patton and James Johnson, but just which back is more important to the Wildcats' success in 2007? There might be more questions at linebacker, a spot where K-State is counting on a senior to claim a bigger role in the middle of the defense.

13. Justin Roland
Roland may have been just a part-time linebacker and special teams performer a season ago, but his Wildcat teammates have spoke highly of him ever since he arrived in Manhattan as a transfer last summer. Replacing the likes of Brandon Archer and Zach Diles won't be easy, but many close to the Wildcat program have faith that Roland will be able to help do just that.

A 6-foot, 245-pound senior, Roland is going to have a lot of plays funneled to him as an inside linebacker in K-State's 3-4 and will be counted on to be a rock against the run. K-State ranked just 78th nationally in rush defense a season ago. It will be up to Roland and the rest of the Wildcat front seven to lower that number, and all indications are that Roland is comfortable with his new role.

"I like to smash people in the middle, so it fits me pretty good," Roland said. "I have one or two gaps I'm responsible for, so it limits what I have to do and it helps me play fast."

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