MANHATTAN, Kan. -- So it turns out Boston Stiverson, in addition to being built like a Humvee, can bust a wicked move. Who knew?
"I mean, I think so," the big Kansas State lineman offered with a smile Friday during the Wildcats' football Media Day. "I don't know what everyone else thinks. As a big guy, I think I'm a good dancer."
As a blocker, well...
"Honestly, I don't feel any pressure," the 306-pound redshirt freshman allowed. "As a freshman, I can't play like a freshman. I've got to go out there and prepare for my opponent, come out to practice every day, work hard and not take any plays off. Right now, I don't feel any pressure."
Quick feet, cool head. That works. The 6-foot-4 Stiverson is projected to start eventually, if not immediately, at one guard spot for K-State this fall; roommate and fellow redshirt freshman Cody Whitehair is expected to get a look at guard or right tackle.
And this is where things around the Little Apple start to get a little bit interesting. On a roster with so many relative certainties -- 17 starters return from last year's 10-3 squad -- the offensive line is one of the few position groups that figure to offer up much drama during preseason camp. The Wildcats have visions of a BCS bowl berth while trying to square away vacancies at guard, left tackle and right tackle. The latter, you feel, is going to have more than a little to stay about how the former shapes up.
"Coach (Charlie) Dickey always tell us, 'It's not about your age,'" said Whitehair, a 300-pounder from Abilene, Kan. "That's what our biggest goal is: We don't want people to think we're freshmen. We want to prove that we're better than freshmen."
They want to prove they can follow the lead of B.J. Finney, the Wildcats' sophomore center, an old-school plugger who got chucked into the deep end a season ago as a redshirt freshman and came out of it on the watch list for the 2012 Rimington Trophy.
"As far as personally, it kind of blew my mind," Finney recalled. "It didn't really sink in until the offensive line was running out on the field, and I'm running with them, and I'm like, 'Oh, wow, I'm really starting this game.' It was mind-blowing. It was a lot of fun."
Finney's known Stiverson for a few years now, ever since the latter was a fresh-faced pup at Andover (Kan.) High School. For his money, the former walk-on has a hard time picturing any of the new kids having their minds blown against Missouri State on September 1.
"You know, I really don't look at them as young guys anymore," Finney said of Stiverson and Whitehair. "They've been here for a year. They've been in the system. They know what's expected."
They're expected to keep the chains moving. They're expected to keep quarterback Collin Klein from getting killed, especially now that the 6-foot-5 Tebow clone is going into every weekend with a giant target painted across his backside.
A smidge more consistency wouldn't hurt the bottom line, either; as a unit, K-State's 2011 front line proved to be more efficient -- maybe timely is a better term -- than it was dominant. While the Wildcats led the Big 12 in fourth-down conversion percentage (72.7) and time of possession (33:55 per game), they were sixth in third-down conversion percentage (42.3) and ended up dead last in sacks allowed (43).
"If you control the ball, you're controlling the tempo of the game," Finney said. "I take a lot of pride in kind of having that tough-nosed, face-to-the-grindstone mentality."
Apparently, with Finney as the lead dog, that mentality's becoming contagious. A workout fiend, Stiverson's raised his maximum bench press from 310 pounds last summer to 365 now. His power clean's up from 260 pounds to 280, and his squat numbers jumped from 435 pounds to 510.
Face, meet grindstone.
"(Finney) comes to work every day; he doesn't take any plays off," Stiverson gushed. "So I push myself not to do that."
On the field, the big lug figures he's twice as decisive and three times as assured than he was in 2011. On the dance floor?
"Haven't seen him dance," Finney cracked. Then he shook his head as if to wipe the image from his brain. "And I don't want to."
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org