September 7, 2007

Home of the Cats

Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman calls the experience "comforting." Free safety Marcus Watts said "it's a good tradition." Before a home game, running back Leon Patton always looks forward to the walk, a time when followers catch a glimpse of their helmet-less heroes as they amble down the asphalt toward Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

It's simply referred to as the pregame "Wildcat Walk," a tradition second-year Coach Ron Prince brought with him from Virginia and one that he participated in as an offensive lineman at Division I-AA Appalachian State.

"It makes you feel good," Patton said. "You know the fans are there for you and support you. It makes you feel good that they're there."

On Saturday, the Wildcats will experience the walk for the first time this fall. Approximately two-and-a-half hours before K-State meets San Jose State on the field for a 6:05 p.m. kickoff, a few large busses will pull up just past Jack Hartman Drive at Gate 3 on College Avenue in the stadium's west parking lot. The players will exit, likely donned in matching sweat suits. Leading the pack will be Prince, wearing a suit and perhaps a slightly furrowed brow. After all, it's the beginning of a business trip for Prince.

This time, he'll be leading a squad on a mission coming off a 23-13 loss at No. 18 Auburn.

"We didn't put the message out there that we wanted to," Prince said. "Finishing that game off and winning it would have been terrific for us. But our players understand when we come home we want to play well. We need to and expect to."

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