'I feel like myself again': Kansas State receiver Landry Weber happy, healthy and back on track
MANHATTAN — In Landry Weber's mind, the only detail missing from his breakout performance last Saturday against Oklahoma was the most important one: the letter W.
"I really wish we could have gotten the win more than anything," Weber said after catching a career-high four passes for 65 yards, including his first touchdown, in Kansas State's 37-31 loss to the Sooners. "It's great to have a great game, but if you come up with a loss it doesn't mean very much.
"I'd rather not do anything and us win than have a (great) day and take a loss."
Nonetheless, Weber's performance was another significant step in his Wildcat journey, one that was partially derailed last year by injuries. Even though he appeared in eight games, he didn't record any statistics, either on offense or special teams, where he has been a mainstay his entire career.
A couple of offseason surgeries and the subsequent rehabilitation work got him back on track.
"I wasn't able to play the way I wanted last year with the injuries, and just coming off (them) I feel like myself again," said Weber, a 5-foot-10, 186-pound senior from Kansas City's Bishop Miege High School. "It's been a progressive deal with every single game.
"I'm having confidence in being able to move the way I want to move, and with every day comes more confidence."
Chris Klieman sees bounce back in Weber's step
K-State coach Chris Klieman, for one, couldn't be happier to have Weber back at full strength.
"I told him, ‘We're going to kind of manage your body through fall camp, to make sure that you can play in the Stanford game.’ I just want him to play and have the experience," Klieman said of Weber, who also plays on all four special teams. "Probably middle of August, I saw him with the spring in his legs, and saw him being able to cut and drive and accelerate, and I told him, ‘Landry, you look like the same kid I saw in 2019.’
"Maybe that clicked to him, as well, like: ‘You know what, I do feel that good. I'm glad somebody notices it,’ because he was hurting all last year. He was just a shell of himself (and) he would tell you that."
Weber had his first two catches in the second game of the season against Southern Illinois, and another two weeks ago in a loss at Oklahoma State. But with Thompson back in the lineup after missing two games with a knee injury, he was targeted five times and came down with four.
He had a fifth catch, on a fourth down and 14 early in the fourth quarter that was overturned on a video replay ruling that said the ball touched the ground as he grabbed it.
"I didn't feel like it moved. I knew when I caught it that it had (hit the ground), but I felt like I had control of it," Weber said. "I wanted to make that play, felt like I made the play, (but) didn't get the call. Got to move on to the next one."
It was the only time Weber did come up empty.
"I was so happy for Landry Weber with the big plays that he made today," Thompson said.
Deuce Vaughn sees change in Landry Weber
Ditto for running back Deuce Vaughn, who had 10 catches himself for 104 yards out of the backfield.
"The way that Landry works, day in and day out, it's fantastic," Vaughn said. "So you knew that his time was coming and today was the day.
"It was just really encouraging to see someone that he battled through some injuries throughout the offseason. He got his vibe back. He got back to the point where he was ready to play and he showed today why he's a really good receiver for us."
And that has been Weber's goal all along.
“I’m trying to contribute in any way that I can and it was big that I could go and make some big plays," Weber said. "I wish I could have made that one big play on the fourth down."
It also was a big game for the receiving corps, which up until the Oklahoma game had not yet recorded a touchdown catch. Part of it was having Thompson back as the trigger man, completing 29 of 41 passes for 320 yards.
Other K-State receivers coming into their own
Phillip Brooks broke the drought by hauling in a 2-yard, fourth-down scoring pass from Thompson in the first quarter, and Weber caught a 6-yarder in the fourth. Throw in Malik Knowles' second kickoff return touchdown in as many weeks and it was a banner day for the wideouts, who combined for 17 receptions, including a 54-yarder from Keenan Garber.
"It was really encouraging," Weber said of the receivers' day. "Obviously those are the guys you're with every single day. Those are your closest friends on the team, so you just love to see them have success."
Klieman is just happy to have Weber back in any capacity.
"I knew that he had potential to have the type of game that he had on Saturday from a production standpoint," Klieman said. "All the stats, you can throw out the window, whether that kid catches one ball, six balls or zero. The plays that he makes in the run game blocking are instrumental.
"He blocked so well against Nevada, and we rushed the ball for (269 yards), and all the offensive line, tight ends and running backs get the credit and stuff, but those wide receivers are doing a really good job blocking downfield, and Landry leads that because he challenges those guys.”