Council Bluffs (Iowa) Iowa Western, fresh off the NJCAA National Championship, held a ceremony Wednesday morning to honor its many DI prospect. Three players made their commitments during the ceremony – which was watched by thousands on a live internet feed. Defensive end Devon Nash pledged to Kansas State while offensive guard Mike Smithburg committed to Kansas but the biggest name was quarterback Jake Waters.
Jake Waters will have a chance to earn the quarterback spot vacated by the graduating Collin Klein.
The four-star prospect and No. 1 junior college quarterback broke Cameron Newton’s single-season pass completion percentage record this season and threw for 37 touchdowns with only three interceptions. Though offers and interest came from all over the country Waters had narrowed his choices to Kansas State and Penn State.
Kansas State had been on Waters the longest and was the early favorite but the Nittany Lions made a strong run to make it a dead-even race for the 6-foot-2, 215-pound passer. In the end, familiarity won out.
“I have made a really tough decision,” Waters said in front of teammates and coaches. “But I’ve decided to be a student athlete at Kansas State University.”
The decision came as a surprise to many Penn State fans who thought the Nittany Lions had taken a slight lead. Waters himself admitted that was actually the case in the very near past.
“Just the other day I told the coaches I was pretty much leaning there (to Penn State),” he said. “You know, I just thought it over again and something clicked and God just showed me a sign that K-State was the place for me.”
Waters says the opportunity for early playing time with Heisman finalist Collin Klein graduating played a part in his choice. Klein actually called Waters after Saturday’s ceremony.
“There’s a good chance for me to come in because, with Klein leaving, it’s a good opportunity. He didn’t guarantee me anything. I wouldn’t want that. He just said there’s a good chance to come in and earn it.
“It was definitely cool to hear his voice and call me right after (the Heisman ceremony). That definitely helped but at the end of the day it was just my gut and my heart.”
Waters, who was a full qualifier out of high school and will enroll in January, says it was an incredibly tough decision that took a toll on both him and those around him.
“I was stressed out. My mom and dad will probably tell you I wasn’t the easiest person to be around,” he said laughing. “They were going to be happy either way. They just told me everything they thought - they didn’t tell me one way or the other – they just wanted it to be my decision. I think they’re all pretty happy for me right now.”
With Waters and Nash choosing to play for Kansas State, Iowa Western now has three players headed there next year as linebacker Travis Green had already committed to the Wildcats. Smithburg is the second Reiver to pledge to Kansas, joining safety Isaiah Johnson as a future Jayhawk.