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Jake Waters

WILDCAT LEGENDS: WHERE ARE THEY NOW?!

Article by Tyler Jackson

Photography by Provided

Wildcats Legends: Where Are They Now?!

Jake Waters

Quarterback, 2013-2014

  • First-Team Academic All-Big 12
  • Second-Team All-Big 12
  • Maxwell Award Semifinalist
  • Davey O’Brien Award Semifinalist
  • Johnny Unitas Award Watchlist
  • Manning Award Watchlist

We’re talking to the one and only, former quarterback and Wildcat legend, Mr. Jake Waters. Jake, my friend. It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since you've been K State's quarterback. 

Oh my gosh, that is crazy to think about. Man, 10 years. Playing there was obviously awesome, it was the best thing about my football career. Man, 10 years ago though. That's a long time. I’ve got a lot of great memories from there. 

Those days were a fun run of K State football. What made you choose to come to K-State?

Going through the recruiting process, I honestly just wanted to be at a place where I felt wanted, and where I felt that I would fit in and maximize my potential. I had visited some good schools, and at the end of the day, it was Coach Snyder, and Coach Snyder's vision. Going there on the visit, seeing Manhattan, and seeing and hanging out with the players was key. Tyler Lockett was my host and talking with Curry (Sexton) and all those guys that I became really, really close with, I soon realized that this was the place for me. It's where I felt like I could thrive. Not only on the field, but off the field. Once I got up there, it was kind of a no-brainer for me. I kind of drug it on a little bit, but it was kind of a no-brainer for me that going to K State was the right move for me, and it was the best decision, obviously, that I ever made. 

For sure. And again, looking back, those were some good days and some really good teams, and you were the right man for the job. 

Well, thank you. The one thing about K State, and watching them from afar that I hadn't paid too much attention to, was they played team football, and that's what I was about in high school and then junior college at Iowa Western. They were winners, and I wanted to be a part of a program that won and did things the right way. I was very fortunate. Personally, having a guy like Tyler Lockett to throw to, and Curry, and all the other guys, made my job a lot easier. I just had to get the ball out on time to them and throw an accurate ball and let them do the rest. 

 I was surrounded by a ton of really, really good players. Just on our offensive line, two or three of them went on and played in the NFL. It was a really good time, and good time for me, because it kind of aligned where everything else was. We had depth at every position. We had Playmakers at every position. I kind of came in at the right time when Colin (Klein) left, and the rest is history. 

Of course, the 2013 season culminated with a victory over Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. What do you remember about the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl? 

That was my first bowl game, so I didn't really know what to expect. You're there for a week, and it was awesome. Plus, it was Michigan. I loved the helmet, traditions, and everything about it. So, it was really cool to play a team that I kind of liked growing up. Also, it was a chance to play on a national stage versus a team like that. After the rough start to the season that we had losing to North Dakota State and starting off not great, and then kind of coming back throughout the season and, and really ending with that was awesome. And then for me, being my first season and kind of splitting time with Daniel (Sams) there was a lot of ups and downs there, which was tough. But ending the season like that, and just staying the course and working through the adversity of the season made it better. That first bowl game versus Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl was something I'll never, ever forget

Then your second season, of course, 2014, you were a semi-finalist for the Maxwell Award, which is the nation's top player. You were a Dave O'Brien Award finalist, which is for the nation's top quarterback. Did you have a lot of pressure going into 2014 after a good 2013 season? 

I put a ton of pressure on myself just to end on a good note. I kind of felt like I settled in a little bit with the quarterback position, the offense, and what they asked the quarterbacks to do. Coach Snyder's offense had a lot of audibles and checks, and having to run the ball and throw it, obviously, I felt comfortable. I kind of knew how they wanted the quarterback to play and how I fit in and everything. I mean, I felt a little pressure knowing Tyler's back, Curry's back, and we had a good offensive line. Our defense was good. So, you did feel a little bit of pressure, but we put more pressure on ourselves to go out and execute and win football games more than anyone. You could feel it. It was more so we were all confident. The season before ended on a good note, and I was just more so excited to get it going and see kind of where we would end up. 

Absolutely. Those were two fantastic seasons at K State, with two bowl games against two very notable teams in Michigan and UCLA. It had to have been a great way to finish, especially after having a great junior college career at Iowa Western. 

Oh yeah. You obviously want to win the last game of your career, but that season was tough with team injuries and for me personally. But, we were able to just work through it and finish it out. That’s something I will never take for granted that I was able to finish with all the guys that I'm still really close with today. That was my dream, ever since I was a little kid, to play in a season like that where you're playing with your best friends and having a chance to win a Big 12 championship at the end of the year and everything. It obviously didn't end the right way, but it was incredibly memorable and special. 

Absolutely! Then of course, you had a quick cup of coffee in the NFL and the CFL, and then directly after that you started your coaching career. 

Yep. So after the CFL season I was able to go and help coach at Iowa Western. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do, but I was like, “Well, I love football.” I thought If I could impact someone the way Coach Strohmeier at Iowa Western had me impacted me a ton. Then Coach Snyder, and Coach Del Miller, who was the quarterback coach at K State when I was there too. I thought if I could have an impact on players the way they had an impact on me, that would be really cool. 

Then to just still be around the game. So, I helped at Iowa Western for a season, and I kind of figured out this is what I wanted to do, and this is what I had a true passion for, and I loved doing. Then a graduate assistant job came open at Iowa State. So, I came here in 2017 as a graduate assistant and spent one season there. Then Coach (Dana) Dimel got the head coaching job at UTEP and he hired me as the tight ends coach there. I spent three seasons there, which was great experience and very awesome. I learned a ton, going from a quarterback to now coaching tight ends. Down in the run game blocking, and all that stuff was definitely something that I had to adjust to, and transition to. But it was an incredible experience. Then, I've been here at Iowa State, this will be my third season now as an analyst on the offensive side of the ball. 

 That's cool! What does an analyst mean? 

Yeah, it’s a term that gets thrown around a lot, and a lot of people don't really know what it means. It's just assisting in the offense in any way, shape, and form. You know, doing some breakdowns here and there and kind of getting scouting reports and things ready. But also, I was helping with the running backs the first two seasons, and now I'm with the quarterbacks. So, you're almost an assistant coach helping with a position is kind of how it is. You’re still involved heavily involved; you just can't technically coach them on the field. But you’re getting everything ready for breakdowns and game plans and everything like that. 

What’s going to be your next step after this, after your analyst role? Are you going to eventually become a position coach? Do you want to eventually be an offensive coordinator or a head coach? 

Yeah, that would be the goal. More so, you just want to be surrounded by good people, and Coach Campbell and everyone here at Iowa State's incredible. I do want to be able to take the next step to be a coach, you know, quarterbacks coach, whatever position coach, that would be awesome. A great next step. Then eventually, be an offensive coordinator, and then head coach is the ultimate goal for sure. 

Being able to be around Coach Snyder and seeing how he ran a program and everything that went into it, I didn't quite realize it as a player, but now you sit back and the attention to detail and not taking anything for granted. Just the way he ran his program was something truly special. Coach Campbell is very similar in the detail and the love and care for players, but he just does it in a different way than Coach Snyder. But, being able to take the good pieces from the two great coaches and that's makes the ultimate goal for sure, to be a head coach one day. 

Then the million dollar question, I love asking everybody when I get to do these, but what is it that you miss the most about Manhattan, Kansas? 

The people there. They welcomed me and my family with open arms. The family atmosphere around Manhattan is great, and everywhere you go the people are incredibly nice. They’re incredibly passionate about K state athletics, and especially for the football team. I do miss being there and being able to go down to Taco Lucha. That’s probably my favorite restaurant in America. Being able to hang out and go to a game, or walk around campus, and just being around the people. Being around the student body and everything is something I truly miss. They obviously, being with the guys that I've called my best friends and seeing them every day too. Whenever I see them, or when we talk, we always obviously get reminded of Manhattan. That place is just pretty special.

Wildcat Legends: Where are they now? is brought to you by Community First National Bank. With two locations in Manhattan to serve you, Community First National Bank is helping to create the legend in you! Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.