Adam Holtorf had just arrived on campus in Manhattan, Kansas, when his position coach gave him a call.

Charlie Dickey wanted the Seward graduate to give the center position a try. When it came to the offensive side of the ball, Holtorf played only tackle at the prep level.

But Holtorf knew Kansas State needed more depth at center, and he saw a great opportunity.

Two years later, Holtorf is the man in the middle for Bill Snyder's Wildcats. The 6-foot-4, 293-pounder made his second start Saturday against Charlotte. His first start came a week earlier against Central Arkansas. 

"I took it on as helping the team," Holtorf said last week. "It was a new position for me coming from high school, but I really learned to like it. You get to know the offense's ins and outs at that position."

Holtorf's rise to the top of the depth chart was not expected this soon. He appeared in two games in 2016, making his debut in the second half against Florida Atlantic.

Reid Najvar was expected to lead a veteran line after making 13 starts last year. But Navjar isn't playing for the team this fall (The Kansas City Star cited concussion issues). Snyder made that announcement just days before the Wildcats' season opener. In the same setting, Snyder said he had full confidence in Holtorf.

"Adam has always been a prominent player for us,” Snyder told The Kansas City Star. "He has been able to play center and guard as a backup in previous years, and he has done well. He is a very conscientious young guy, execution is very concentrated."

With Navjar stepping away from football, Holtorf stepped up in his place. The transition was seamless.

"Something that Coach Snyder particularly stresses, as a two, you're a snap away from being able to play," Holtorf said. "Being able to prepare when you're a No. 2 just like when you're a starter was something I was invested in. Making the transition, at least in terms of game preparation and how I practice, that didn't really change."

When news got out that one of Nebraska's own was going to start for a Power Five school, a flood of messages starting coming in from friends, high school coaches, teachers, parents' friends ...

"The amount of people that reached out to me, it was really cool to see," said Holtorf, who was a three-sport standout and a Super-State performer (as a defensive lineman) at Seward.

Holtorf will admit, there were some nerves during the season opener against Central Arkansas.

"But there was a lot of excitement, too," he said. "It was a mix of the two. Once I got those first couple of plays under my belt, the nerves kind of went away, and just got down to business doing my thing playing football, making calls, making blocks."

Kansas State had 519 total yards against Central Arkansas, including 186 on the ground. Holtorf said the pass blocking was very solid, but the run blocking needed some work.

The Wildcats made some improvement in a 55-7 win against Charlotte in Week 2, rushing for 304 yards.

Kansas State, now ranked No. 18 in the Associated Press poll, will play at Vanderbilt on Saturday (6:30 p.m. on ESPNU).

In addition to growing as a key contributor for the Wildcats, Holtorf is representing the purple and silver the right way off the field. It's the Snyder way.

"One of the biggest things that he stresses is not necessarily who you are on the field, but the type of person you are off the field," Holtorf said. "That's kind of the biggest thing that I see and helped me is who you are in the classroom, who you are out in public, when you're going out to eat with your friends or your parents when they're in town. The idea of being a whole athlete, not just what's on the field."

The Kansas State roster also includes Lincoln Southwest graduate Nick Lenners. The redshirt freshman is a backup tight end this year.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2639 or On Twitter @LJSSportsGrell.


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