Steamboat Springs It's hard to imagine using baby steps and Jay Hanley in the same sentence.
But as the bruising 245-pound fullback prepares for the next step of his football career - he accepted a preferred walk-on spot a Kansas State University this week - baby steps are what Hanley's prepared to take.
"I'm concerned about working hard and beating the guy who is in front of me," Hanley said. "I've got to get faster, I've got to beat the guy in front of me, I've got to hit as hard as I can. That's where my mindset is."
A preferred walk-on assures Hanley a spot on the team, but doesn't include a scholarship.
Hanley's decision ends a two-year recruiting process that at times could best be described as hectic.
Along with Kansas State, Hanley also was offered preferred walk-on spots at Missouri, Wyoming and Arkansas.
Hanley also visited Hawaii and was on the verge of getting a scholarship offer before head coach June Jones resigned to become head coach at Southern Methodist University.
Hanley visited Missouri, Arkansas and Kansas State on a recent 10-day road trip and said the Wildcats are the team that best fits him.
"I really liked the intensity of K-State," Hanley said. "Their coaching staff, their facilities, their practices, the school, the atmosphere - I mean, everything just clicked."
Hanley is expected to play the f-back position at Kansas State. The f-back position is a fullback-tight end hybrid, where Hanley will be used to motion, block, catch the ball and get the occasional handoff.
Although he's a walk-on, Hanley said he more than likely won't be redshirted. While he's not sure whether he'll get on offense right away - he'll start third on the depth chart - he said he likely will play right away on special teams.
"It's nice. It's nice I can concentrate on football and not worry about other schools and talking to them, e-mailing them and writing them," said Hanley, who thanked wrestling coach Sean McCarthy for getting him in touch with Kansas State. "I know what position they want me for and I can concentrate on that."
Hanley plans to leave for Kansas State in early June so he can enroll in summer classes and prepare for lifting sessions and 7-on-7 football.
While he doesn't have a scholarship, Hanley said just being able to play Division I football is a dream come true. How far that dream goes, Hanley said, is now up to him.
"Here on out, it's up to me," Hanley said. "It's no more, 'You're a mountain kid, or you're from Class 3A.' Now it's, 'What can I do?' If I can compete with these guys, I'll get a scholarship. I have the opportunity to prove myself."