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Kansas State Collegian

Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

New Faces: An early look into K-State’s football transfers

How K-State’s newest additions will impact the Wildcats in 2024
Toby Hammes
Ball State defensive back transfer Jordan Riley talks to the K-State media for the first time. Riley will have an opportunity to the jack safety position in 2024.

Dante Cephus, WR, Penn State

Cephus, in his last year of eligibility, looks for the right fit in Manhattan after a year at Penn State. Before playing for the Nittany Lions, Cephus earned two years of All-MAC First Team at Kent State where he was coached by current Wildcat receiver coach Matthew Middleton. 

While that connection was important for Cephus’ recruitment to K-State, he said that was not the only factor. 

“Just the team in general, that was probably the biggest reason why I came here,” Cephus said. “The potential, a lot of great players and a lot of great coaches.”

The list of great players starts with the man responsible for getting Cephus the ball: quarterback Avery Johnson. Cephus had high praise regarding his first impressions of the quarterback. 

“[Johnson] is a fast guy, my favorite quarterback is Lamar Jackson, so he kind of reminded me of [Jackson],” Cephus said. “I like that, I like guys that can extend the pocket.”

Jackson, a former Heisman winner at Louisville, just won the second MVP of his pro career. Cephus said Johnson has that same potential to reach the next level. 

As far as Cephus’ place on the field, he said he takes the most pride in his route running, a skill the Wildcats need after losing leading receiver Phillip Brooks to eligibility.

While Cephus will only sport purple this season, he believes he’ll leave an impact on younger receivers like wide receivers Jayce Brown and Tre Spivey. 

“The biggest thing I bring to this offense is just my knowledge,” Cephus said. “Everything I’ve learned, giving back to all young guys and everybody else who needs help.”

Jordan Riley, DB, Ball State

Riley, a fourth-year senior, helps fill the experience void in the Wildcats’ secondary after losing safeties Kobe Savage and Will Lee III. Riley said he’s ready for the opportunity to contribute immediately. 

“It’s an opportunity for me to come in and start, no ifs, ands or buts,” Riley said. “All I gotta do is keep working and keep my head down and learn that playbook and I think I have the best opportunity to start.”

For Riley, his game and what he loves about the K-State defense comes back to one word: physicality. 

“We don’t have the 6-foot-2, 6-foot-3 DBs, but all of them are physical and all of them are athletically inclined,” Riley, who stands at 6-foot-1, said. 

Riley said he expects to take over the jack safety position, which is new to him, but he’s ready for the challenge over the coming months. 

“It’s a different defense, a totally different defense, than what I’m used to,” Riley said. “The jack really is the heart of the defense, the quarterback of the defense. … Having the time to develop and go into camp was really what I felt like is what I needed.”

Easton Kilty, OL, North Dakota State 

Kilty, a fifth-year senior, started across all four years of his collegiate career, including every game as the Bison’s left tackle last year. A versatile offensive lineman, Kilty was rated the fifth-best available offensive tackle transfer by 247Sports.

The Wildcats will likely need Kilty to slot in at tackle after losing last year’s tackles Christian Duffie and KT Leveston to eligibility. Kilty said that’s where he sees himself fitting in the best.

Coming from North Dakota State, the old stomping grounds for K-State head coach Chris Klieman and offensive coordinator Conor Riley, Kilty said his Bison coaches spoke highly of K-State.

Kilty said another big reason he decided on K-State was having Johnson at the helm. 

“The offense here can attack you [in] so many ways,” Kilty said. “With Avery Johnson at quarterback, it’s like Coach Riley says, ‘you pretty much have 12 guys on the field’ because you have to defend the run-pass option.”

Travis Bates, DE, Austin Peay

Only a sophomore, Bates will look to call Manhattan home and make an impact beyond this upcoming season. Last year, Bates earned Freshman All-America honors among FCS athletes. 

Bates said when he entered the portal he was looking for two things in particular: a place with a family environment and a place that wins off the field in addition to on the field. 

“There’s winners here,” Bates said. “Coach Klieman’s a winner, and the reason I like Coach Klieman is he has a chip on his shoulder like I do. Coming from the FCS, we really related on that aspect.”

As far as on-the-field performance goes, Bates said he promises to rev it up every play.

“I have a really good motor,” Bates said. “I may not be the fastest, may not be the strongest, but I have a motor that will never go out. You can ask anyone I’ve gone against, every play I’m going to give it my best.”

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