By: Austin Siegel
ARLINGTON, TEXAS — For the first time in two years, K-State Football is headed to Big 12 Media Days at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Chris Klieman, Skylar Thompson and Jahron McPherson will represent the Wildcats at the annual kickoff event for the conference, with 17 different interviews and media obligations over the course of one jam-packed day.
Looking for even more news and notes on the Wildcats? Here’s the 2021 K-State Football Media Guide with the preseason right around the corner:
Check back here throughout the afternoon for quotes, clips and behind-the-scenes coverage from deep in the heart of Texas.
9:23 a.m. – K-State is in the building after an early morning flight from Manhattan. Skylar Thompson, attending his third Big 12 Media Day, isn’t exactly traveling light – he’s wheeling a suitcase across the field at AT&T Stadium with everything he might need as a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy in New Orleans. Thompson is heading there as soon things wrap up here in Dallas.
9:45 a.m. – “Good luck gentlemen,” says TCU Head Coach and K-State graduate Gary Patterson, as Thompson and Jahron McPherson head to their first media hits of the day. Presumably, Patterson is talking about the upcoming season and not the interviews with local radio stations that will begin the morning for both K-State players. Either way, it’s two interviews down for Thompson and McPherson.
Elsewhere, Chris Klieman is beginning his media day with a few radio interviews after arriving at AT&T Stadium.
📍 AT&T Stadium #KStateFB ⚒ Big 12 Media Days pic.twitter.com/V0dsRARlwq
— K-State Football (@KStateFB) July 14, 2021
10:52 a.m. – FOX is next up, interviewing Klieman and the players on a modified set inside a locker room set up for the Trinidad & Tobago national soccer team. AT&T Stadium is hosting Gold Cup matches this month, but watching K-State’s quarterback answer questions about the Big 12 next to a bunch of Trinidadian flags is still the first “what is going on” moment of the day.
Jahron McPherson is asked about playing against Skylar Thompson in 3rd grade. Skylar, laughing off-camera: “We hated each other.”
11:48 a.m – In one of the cooler moments of the afternoon, Klieman sits down with journalism students Jonathan and Khylon from St. Philip’s School and Community Center in Dallas as part of the Big 12’s “Kid Reporter” program. Questions range from favorite tailgate food, outdoor activities and favorite seafood. Catfish in case you were wondering.
12:10 p.m. – In his first live interview of the day, Klieman joins the Big 12 Now crew on ESPN+ for a look ahead at the 2021 season. K-State’s head coach isn’t looking past anyone. Revisiting the team’s upset of No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman last year, Klieman focused on the mentality that has become a trademark of his program:
“We were down 35-14 in the third quarter and nobody blinked.”
12:20 p.m. – Bumping into Joel Klatt outside the Cowboys locker room, the FOX Sports host teases Thompson before his sixth season under center for the Wildcats.
“You’re like an old man now.”
12:25 p.m. – Thompson describing the hardest hit of his career (2018 against Mississippi State) as a “free chiropractor appointment” might be one of the best quotes of the day.
1:18 p.m. – Halfway through media day and stars are beginning to emerge. Namely, Jahron McPherson’s pants.
He’s been asked about them in every interview, capri pants that the senior defensive back picked up from H&M. They caught West Virginia head coach Neal Brown’s attention as the Mountaineers contingent passed by before an interview with ESPN.com – “Oh, look at these” – and have been a talking point throughout the afternoon.
1:30 p.m. – Chris Klieman wrapped up his press conference with the assembled Big 12 media before lunch, a wide-ranging conversation that offered a preview of where the Wildcats are at heading into preseason camp.
Klieman emphasized that everything starts with Thompson, as a returning sixth-year quarterback, but said Will Howard’s development as a big reason for his confidence heading into 2021.
Newcomers also got a shoutout, with transfer TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe someone Klieman believes can be a “difference-maker.”
2:08 – We’re into photoshoots and a first look at Thompson wearing his new number seven – he explained what the new uniform meant to him earlier this year, a throwback to one of the greatest quarterbacks in K-State history and his own childhood dreams of playing college football:
“Being from the Midwest, I always watched the Big 12. And I remember, Coach Klein just lighting it up and he was on Sports Illustrated, I had a subscription at that time where I got those every week in my house. And I remember seeing Coach Klein on the front of the magazine, and being a Heisman finalist and, and all the things that he accomplished here. And I looked up to that. And it truly is a big reason why I play this game and play for this university.”
2:55 – Coach Klieman is sitting down with RJ Young of FOX Sports while Thompson and McPherson handle their press conferences on the field at AT&T Stadium. Asked how K-State manages to be “greater than the sum of their parts ” every season, Klieman talks about the importance of getting back to that identity in 2021. Elsewhere, Thompson is focused on what the ‘Cats need to do to take down teams like Oklahoma in conference play.
“We have to be consistent in our preparation and consistent during practice,” Thompson said. “Approach every game like we’re playing Oklahoma.”
3:58 – Things are winding down with Klieman holding his final press conference of the day at one of the stages along the AT&T Stadium sidelines. Meanwhile, Thompson and McPherson are knocking out their final TV hit of the day, saying things like “It’s gametime,” and “Let’s go,” before answering some interview questions before wrapping up their Big 12 Media Day.
Before heading out, Klieman and K-State Executive Associate AD Kenny Lannou took a quick look around the locker room K-State will use when the Wildcats play Stanford back here in the season opener. For all the questions, mic checks and photoshoots, Wednesday afternoon was a reminder that the 2021 season is right around the corner.
Seven Saturdays from now, K-State Football is officially back.