Coffman has great football pedigree few can match

Aug 8, 2009 - 7:44 AM By DOUG TUCKER AP Sports Writer

MANHATTAN, Kan.(AP) -- For sheer football pedigree, it's hard to match the son and brother of football greats.

Kansas State quarterback Carson Coffman is about to give it a try.

Coffman's father, Paul, was a star tight end at Kansas State who went on to a standout professional career with the Green Bay Packers.

Older brother Chase was an All-Big 12 tight end who played a key role in Missouri's two Big Eight North titles and is now with the Cincinnati Bengals.

And there's more. Younger brother Cameron, as a junior, is the starting quarterback for his high school team and already drawing attention from college coaches.

Much to his disappointment, high school was the last time Carson had a chance to carry on the family tradition. The past three years, he has been buried on the Kansas State bench as Josh Freeman's backup.

Now that Freeman is off to the NFL as Tampa Bay's first-round draft pick, Coffman's opportunity might be at hand. But first he will have to beat out Grant Gregory, a transfer from South Florida who also spent the past two seasons as a backup.

Coffman would seem to have the inside track for the simple reason he has been at Kansas State his entire career. But Gregory, 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, might be a little quicker than the 6-3, 212-pound Coffman and more suited for the option offense that Bill Snyder's quarterbacks ran so effectively during his first 17 years as Kansas State head coach.

Coffman was recruited for the pro-style passing attack that Ron Prince used before he was fired and replaced by Snyder.

"One's taller than the other. One's a little quicker than the other," Snyder said Friday during Kansas State's annual media day. "Carson would be ahead as far as understanding the system. Grant's only had two days in it."

Always patient and exacting, Snyder will make no hasty decisions. He likes to see competition at all positions, and even mentions long shots Collin Klein and Joseph Kassanavoid as other quarterback candidates.

"We'll do whatever our players can do," he said. "We're a broad-based offense and we'll get it all in here after about practice number eight. We'll just pick and choose that fits the personnel we have. Whoever ends up being number one at that position, we'll try to mold what we do around that individual."

Coffman readily admits he does not fit the run-pass threat that Snyder had with some of his former quarterbacks such as Ell Roberson and Michael Bishop, but he is a proven winner. His last two years in high school, Raymore-Peculiar went unbeaten while winning Missouri state championships.

"I'm not the athlete Michael Bishop was," he said. "But I think I'm a pretty good athlete. I can run the ball."

Gregory also brings a wealth of confidence to the competition.

"I think I have a very good attitude," he said when asked to list his strengths. "I think I'm a winner. I bring some versatility. I've been around, I know what makes teams good and what makes teams bad. The more I develop in this offense, I'll be smarter with it."

He's also seen enough of Coffman to know the challenge will be big.

"A good, solid quarterback, exactly what I expected," he said. "He's very mature. He's been here. He's a good player and a good leader."

In the past three years, Coffman has made only a few mop-up appearances, completing 28 passes for 304 yards. But he still thinks of himself as the unbeaten quarterback of his last two years in high school.

"In high school, I didn't think I could lose," Coffman said. "I still feel the same way. For the last three years, I've been preparing for this moment. I can't wait. I'm really excited."

A hallmark of Snyder's Kansas State teams always was top quarterback play. Just a few days into practice, Snyder has seen things he likes about both of his top candidates.

"Carson has been around the game," he said. "He comes from an athletic family and he understands about being an athlete and the things that are important. And he's a quick study for the most part, picks the game up very well.

"Grant, I saw a toughness about him that I appreciate, that you don't know until you get face to face with him. I think there's some work habits that you appreciate."

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