September 13, 2007

Houlik ready for expanded role

At 5-foot-11, nobody is going to call Kansas State's John Houlik imposing. So, it might have surprised some to see the undersized sophomore open the season in eye-catching fashion. Despite being second on the depth chart, Houlik, a 212-pound middle linebacker, has recorded 11 tackles in just two games, and is now drawing big attention to his small frame.

"Most of the guys I go up against, I have leverage on," Houlik said of the advantages of being a small linebacker. "I can get into them, and get up into their chest. I'm so much shorter than most of the linemen I go up against. I just use my speed and quickness to get around them."

Houlik used his small stature as a weapon against San Jose State last Saturday, zipping around Spartan blockers on his way to picking up eight tackles, including one for a loss, and while the Wichita native has shown a knack for toppling ball carries in 2007, he is capable of more than just tackling. Houlik played a multitude of positions during his time at Wichita's Collegiate High School, and feels his versatility could help him on this level.

"They kind of used me as a utility guy," he said "I covered revivers, and played a little safety and middle linebacker, I've kind of done everything."

Houlik, who is listed behind middle linebacker Reggie Walker on the Wildcats' depth chart, has also backed up the injured Antwon Moore in K-State's nickel packages. While Houlik is far from happy to see a teammate go down, he knows the injury to Moore could help him see the field even more often. The second-year Wildcat accepts the added responsibility with open arms, and feels the added playing time is a direct result of an opportunistic attitude.

"I haven't gotten many snaps, but on the snaps I did get, I feel like I proved to our coaches, to our players, and to our fans, that I could play," He said. "So, Saturday was really important for me to show people I could play."

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