MANHATTAN — No, Carson Wentz did not recruit Will Howard to Kansas State.
In fact, nobody did at first.
But Wentz, the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, certainly figured into a process that eventually brought him from his hometown of Downington, Pennsylvania to Manhattan in the NCAA's December football signing period.
"Being an Eagles fan, he's my guy," said Howard, the lone quarterback prospect signed by the Wildcats in the 2020 recruiting class. "I'm definitely a big fan of his, and feel like I try to emulate my game a little bit towards him because he's kind of built like me, I would say — a bigger quarterback and can move a little bit."
So where does Wentz figure into the equation? Well, he played for K-State coach Chris Klieman at North Dakota State, leading the Bison to a FCS national title before moving on to the National Football League.
"That was obviously a big sell," Klieman said back in December. "When his folks sat in my office and saw the pictures of Carson Wentz and they knew my background with Carson and the success that Carson had within the system."
That connection might have helped seal the deal, but it hardly tells the whole story of how the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Howard wound up at K-State. That actually started with Howard himself.
"I got in contact with coach (Conor) Riley," Howard said of the Wildcats' offensive line coach, who had followed him on Twitter. "I just sent him a (direct message) of my film and he ended up responding, and two days later I got an offer."
Howard was a highly decorated quarterback in Pennsylvania, named the All-Southeastern Pennsylvania player of the year by the Philadelphia Inquirer and to the Pennsylvania Football Writers' all-state team. But he also was savvy enough to take recruiting matters into his own hands.
"I reached out to coach Riley because they don't really look out where I'm from," Howard said. "They don't have any area recruiter for us and I knew they were kind of looking for quarterbacks and all that.
"That's part of the recruiting process. You've got to be proactive. You've got to send your film out there."
Howard's film showed a quarterback who as a senior at Downingtown West led his team to a 13-2 record and the state semifinals, the best finish in school history. He passed for 2,543 yards and 27 touchdowns.
"He's a really, really smart football player," Klieman said. "He's athletic (and) he's got a really strong arm.
"He's a guy that's a sponge and he wants to learn, and he comes at semester, which is huge for us to be able to get him in."
Howard is one of a dozen members of the Wildcats' 26-member recruiting class — they added three players to the December signees on Wednesday — to enroll at K-State for the spring semester.
"(It's) very important. Especially as a quarterback, learning the offense, getting used to the workouts (and) meeting everyone," Howard said of his decision to graduate from high school a semester early. "Because as a quarterback you've got to be a leader, you've got to take care of your guys.
"I know there's a lot of disadvantages, too, with missing high school and all that, but to me the advantages just far outweigh the disadvantages."
Howard knows that the Wildcats return a two-year starter at quarterback in Skylar Thompson, plus have two other veterans on the roster in junior Nick Ast and redshirt freshman Jaren Lewis. He vows to compete for the job, but said he already has learned much from Thompson.
"Skylar's been awesome throughout the whole recruiting process," Howard said. "He was great, talking to me and texting me, and I was texting him going back and forth.
"And I feel like learning from guys like that and being able to be in the room with him and compete with him every day is going to be a lot of fun and a really good advantage for me."
On the field, Howard said, he will not hold back.
"I'd say I'm a passer first, but also can get the job done with my feet as well," he said. "I feel like I’m smart and make the right decisions with the ball.
"For those of you who haven't seen me play, I want to let you know that you're going to get everything out of me on every play, every practice, every workout. I'm just going to leave it all out there."
Thompson hasn't been the only quarterback to impress Howard. K-State quarterback coach Collin Klein was a Wildcat All-American, and he recently met Easton Stick, a rookie last year with the San Diego Chargers, who led Klieman's last North Dakota State team to a national title.
"That was really cool, just talking ball, so you know the connections that you have here are awesome," Howard said.
And what about Wentz?
"I have not (met him)," Howard said. "Coach is trying to get him to come in, I think, sometime.
"That would be really cool."
Wildcats sign three
K-State announced the signing of three players Wednesday, pushing its 2020 recruiting class to 26.
The Wildcats brought in high school offensive linemen Sam Shields from Manhattan and Hadley Panzer from Lakin, plus junior college defensive end Tyrone Taleni from Mt. San Antonio College in California.