MANHATTAN, Kan. -- At a different school or in a different time at Kansas State, Ty Zimmerman might be the quarterback and the Wildcats might not be going back and forth between Daniel Sams and Jake Waters.
Yet the senior safety knows there are many reasons why he is where he is - 2,066 reasons, in fact.
But before that realization, there was a time Zimmerman thought he might be under center. He was one of the best players in the state when he quarterbacked Junction City High to a 13-0 season and the Class 6A state championship in 2008. Zimmerman passed for 1,920 yards and 25 touchdowns, rushed for 1,046 yards and 13 scored and had all three of his team's touchdowns in the title game on the way to first-team all-state honors for a second straight season.
Kansas State, meanwhile, was preparing for life after Josh Freeman and sorting through candidates like Grant Gregory, Carson Coffman and a stout freshman named Collin Klein. Zimmerman was a highlight in the 2009 recruiting class as an all-purpose athlete who was good enough to play somewhere, but had enough time on his side for the Wildcats to find him a home.
"I started out at quarterback, though," he said.
It didn't last long. Gregory would handle most of the snaps in 2009 and Coffman and Klein were a pair in 2010, but it was no secret Klein was going to be the guy when he figured things out. That happened in 2011 and 2012, when Klein rushed for more than 2,066 yards and 50 touchdowns.
"Needless to say," Zimmerman said, "he'll always be one of the top quarterbacks in the history of Kansas State University."
Zimmerman, who enrolled in January of 2009, won't be forgotten either, and he looks to create more memories Saturday. The Wildcats (2-4, 0-3 Big 12) play host to West Virginia (3-4, 1-3) at 3:45 p.m. The game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium will be televised by Fox Sports 1.
Things began auspiciously for Zimmerman, though. He was asked to move to around to find a place for his skill during his first spring on campus.
"It was tough there for the first few months I made the switch," he said. "My position coach approached me and told me the deal and asked me if I wanted to try out safety. I said, 'Yeah, let's do it.' "It was a chance to get on the field way earlier than I could at quarterback, and I helped the team out on special teams. Looking back, it was a great move."
Zimmerman ended up watching the 2009 season from the sideline as a greyshirt, but he started 12 games at safety as a freshman and was a freshman All-American. Last year, he was first-team all-Big 12 and made a variety of All-America teams. He's one of the best defensive players in the conference and projects as a middle round pick in the next NFL draft.
He's stayed familiar with quarterbacks, too. Zimmerman has 11 interceptions, a big number for a safety. Safeties are usually just that, players positioned in the back of the defense to make sure things don't get out of control. They tackle trouble, and Zimmerman's done that without fail. He has 226 career tackles, including 44 this season and 74 in 2010.