Kansas State offensive lineman Dalton Risner pictured at his uncle Clay Risner's home outside of Independence.
Kansas State offensive lineman Dalton Risner pictured at his uncle Clay Risner's home outside of Independence.

Emerging Big 12 star and eventual NFL hopeful, Kansas State offensive lineman Dalton Risner was in the area this weekend, visiting his uncle Clay Risner at his home east of Independence on Saturday.  The 6’5”, 300 pound bruiser was making his first trip to Southeast Kansas, but growing up in the small town of Wiggins, CO, he appreciated the close-knit atmosphere and friendly members of the community.  It reminded him of his hometown and the family-oriented philosophy in Manhattan.  

One aspect of that philosophy at K-State comes from the coaching staff, starting at the top with Head Coach Bill Snyder.  Snyder just recently shared with the team the shocking news that he is battling throat cancer, shortly before it was released to the media.  Snyder’s doctors had discovered the disease prior to the Texas Bowl, but he did not want to worry the guys going into the eventual bowl victory.  

“Coach Snyder…he’s gonna be a fighter, all those good things,” Risner said about the news.  He added that the Head Coach, “made it seem like it was another simple road block in his life that he was going to defeat and that tells you exactly what Coach Snyder is all about.”  Snyder has no plans to be away from the sidelines and fully expects to be back to one hundred percent soon.

Another large part of that family feeling is the fact that his younger brother, Kaeson, has followed Dalton to central Kansas and will be entering his redshirt sophomore season at tight end for the Wildcats.  The brothers played together at Wiggins High School under their father, Coach Mitch Risner, however Dalton was injured two games into his senior year so it has been good to have Kaeson rejoin him in practice and on the field on Saturdays.  

As a tight end, the younger Risner will have the chance to lineup right next to his big brother in certain formations.  “It’s really unique to have him on the team…I think a lot of brothers would kill to be on the same Division I football team,” Dalton explained.  Risner has three other brothers, one of which played safety at Northern Colorado and the youngest, Sheldon, is now a sophomore in high school playing for dad at Wiggins High.  

While eyeing a shot at the NFL, those strong coaching roots and a great mentor in Snyder have provided Risner with a path to coaching once his playing days have concluded.  During his injury-shortened senior season in high school, he even earned the mantle of play caller, identifying defensive fronts at the line and changing schemes or plays to capitalize on weak points.  This coach-on-the-field training has also added to his football IQ and helped earned him the honor of being named K-State captain as a redshirt sophomore, one of the youngest in the conference and in the history of Kansas State.    

Risner also made a position change prior to last season, moving from his natural position of center to the outside to play right tackle for the Wildcats.  And dealing with a higher class of athlete on the edges has been a challenge, but one he has faced and now looks forward to.  “It’s a whole different skill set…dealing with a whole different type of athlete, a lot more speed…a lot more athleticism, and just being required to use my athleticism more…I was nervous…I had been center since I was six years old playing pee-wee football,” he continued.  

Heading into his first year as an upperclassmen, with expectations for himself and K-State’s young, maturing offensive line, Dalton and his line mates have taken their group from one of the biggest question marks going into last season and blossomed into one of the team’s strengths for 2017-2018.  Over the course of last year, Risner earned many accolades that have increased both his expectations, as well as those in the media, those watching at home, and hopefully some scouts from the big leagues.  Among the awards that he accumulated in 2016-2017, prior to the switch to tackle, Dalton was put on the preseason Remington Award watch list, which is given to the best center in the nation.  

After the position change, he garnered All Big 12 second team by the Associated Press, and All Big 12 first team by ESPN and the Big 12 coaches, which holds more weight for the players because it is coming from the people that are seeing them up close and in person each Saturday.  Dalton was the only sophomore to make the coaches poll.  

He will graduate in the fall, but will still have a full year of eligibility remaining, so it really depends on the success of the offensive line and his individual success this season to see what the next step is for the Colorado native.  He seems to have a bright future ahead of him, whether that should come with a stint in the NFL, an eventual coaching career, or even something along the lines of broadcaster or public speaker, as he has a very humble and easy way about him.  That probably comes from his small-town roots and gives his family pride in his actions on and off the field.  

Kansas State will begin spring practice soon and their first scheduled game is agains Central Arkansas on Saturday, September 2nd at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, KS.