'The Sauce Boss': Reggie Stubblefield emerges as a do-it-all defender for Kansas State football

Arne Green
Topeka Capital-Journal
Kansas State defensive back Reggie Stubblefield (1) celebrates a tackle for loss Saturday against West Virginia at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium.

MANHATTAN — Reggie Stubblefield isn't much for labels, and for good reason.

Given his all-purpose role on Kansas State's defense, it would be hard for him to keep track.

"Like I always said, no matter where they put me, I'm going to always give it my all," said Stubblefield, a senior graduate transfer from Prairie View A&M, who has done a little of everything for the Wildcats before starting the past two games as a strong-side linebacker and nickel back hybrid. "That's what I go out there and try to focus on every day.

"I'm not worried so much about evolving and trying to make sure that's the right spot for me. I'm just trying to make sure I'm doing the right thing for the team. Wherever they need me and whatever they want me to do, I'm going to go out there and do it."

Regardless of where he's positioned, the 6-foot, 195-pound Stubblefield has been a key contributor during K-State's current four-game winning streak. In last Saturday's 34-17 victory over West Virginia, he had three tackles, including a big one for loss, and recovered a fumble.

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'The Sauce Boss'

"The Sauce Boss. That's what we call him in the locker room," junior cornerback Julius Brents said, a reference to Stubblefield's family ties to the Texas-based Stubbs Barbeque restaurants. "He can pretty much do it all, man.

"Reggie, he's like a Swiss Army knife. You can plug him in a lot of different areas and put him in different situations and know he's going to be there and do his job."

There was some question whether Stubblefield would get to K-State at all, but he was finally cleared by the NCAA and quickly made an impression. The Wildcats initially recruited him as a cornerback.

"Didn't know a lot about what he could do other than watching him in fall camp," K-State coach Chris Klieman said. "We knew he brought a lot of energy.

"You guys can all tell that he loves to play the game, has a blast out there, practices as hard as he plays, is a guy that is very critical of himself and wants to be a guy that's perfect on things, which I appreciate."

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An ever-evolving defense

K-State unveiled a new defensive scheme to start the season, going with a three-man front and three linebackers. At first, Ryan Henington and Wayne Jones, a pair of converted safeties, split time at the Sam linebacker alongside Daniel Green and Cody Fletcher.

The three-man front has been a constant for the most part, but the defense as a whole has evolved to the point where Stubblefield can slot in wherever needed.

"You can see our defense, we've kind of started to move to some more man coverage concepts and he does really well in man, and he makes a lot of big plays," Fletcher said of Stubblefield.

"He really brings a lot of energy to our defense, which is exciting."

His pass coverage ability is just one facet of his game, Stubblefield said.

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"That goes back to being versatile," he said. "The ability I had at my old school, being able to play corner and safety and just being able to match up with guys and be able to man-cover guys and understand schemes.

"My intelligence on the field. They require me to be able to play so many different positions. That's the big thing."

And it's what makes him so valuable.

"He's played really well for us at that kind of hybrid nickel-Sam position, whether it be in the run game (or the) pass game," Klieman said. "He's really helped us a bunch on a lot of the perimeter bubble smoke game out there because he can get off blocks and make plays, and he can cover. He can tackle. He can blitz.

"He's been an all-purpose player for us, and we're fortunate that we have him because he can play man-to-man like a DB and can play in the box like a linebacker. So he’s had a great season for us.” 

And Stubblefield hinted that there may even be some new wrinkles when the Wildcats face No. 13-ranked Baylor in their final home game at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

"I see even this week in practice (the coaches) being able to move me around," he said. "I'm going to be in a few different positions, so it's just like if they feel like that's the guy that needs to be there for the game plan, I'm going to do that."