MANHATTAN — Wyatt Hubert's emergence last year on Kansas State's defensive line was a bit of a revelation.

From a backup to start the season, he developed to the point that by the end of his redshirt freshman year he arguably was the Wildcats' most consistent and explosive end.

But don't suggest to Hubert, a sophomore from Shawnee Heights High School in Topeka, that he was an overnight sensation.

"Ever since I stepped into this program on day one, I think I've had the same consistency, same habits, and obviously those are habits that have gotten me to where I am right now," Hubert said Friday during K-State's media day. "Those are just habits that I've developed early on and I'm very thankful for, and if I just keep those habits going I believe I can achieve the goals that I have."

Hubert was sufficiently impressive last season that he received freshman All-America honors from USA Today Sports. He started seven of 12 games, finished with 35 tackles — 8.5 for loss with 4.5 sacks — plus intercepted one pass and broke up two more.

Hubert's work ethic was one thing that stood out immediately to veteran K-State defensive ends coach Buddy Wyatt when he arrived last winter as a member of new head coach Chris Klieman's staff.

"I think he works extremely hard at his craft, and that's what makes everybody stand up and take notice," Wyatt said. "I thought there was some ability there, (but) I think he has worked extremely hard over the spring and summer to get even better — to get bigger, to get stronger, to get faster.

"I've seen him grow as a football player in just the short time I've been here."

Hubert, who also played tight end at Shawnee Heights, has gone from a solid 6-foot-3, 240 pounds when he arrived at K-State in the summer of 2017 to an imposing 265 pounds now as he prepares for his sophomore campaign.

"That's something that takes time to develop," Hubert said of the added weight, as well as improved quickness and agility. "Just give coach (Chris) Dawson (strength and conditioning coach) credit for that.

"I can speak for pretty much every guy that's been here in this program for a long time. They're not the same person that they are in year four or five that they were on day one."

Wyatt already has seen it in a few short months.

"I really think Wyatt has matured both physically and mentally as far as learning how to play the game," Wyatt said. "He's a big, strong, explosive young man.

"I think he's a very physical player on the field and I think he plays extremely fast."

Senior defensive tackle Trey Dishon, a three-year starter who has played next to his share of talented ends at K-State, also likes Hubert's passion for the game.

"The guy loves to play football, plain and simple," Dishon said. "He's amazing.

"I've just seen him improve, whether that's last season — his first season on the field — through practice and he wants to get better at it."

Hubert hasn't been shy about sharing his enthusiasm with the rest of the Wildcats, already asserting himself as a vocal leader on a defense that includes a pair of proven senior ends in Reggie Walker and Kyle Ball.

"It's something I take a lot of pride in, and being in a leadership position isn't something that's comfortable and isn't something that all guys want to be able to step up and do," Hubert said. "That's just something that I think God has blessed me with, that natural leadership ability.

"I'm just going to try to take advantage of that and try to lead this team — keep trying to improve myself and my teammates."

Dishon is convinced that Hubert has just scratched the surface of his potential.

"I told him, however long you're playing this game, it's going to be crazy to see you your senior year," Dishon said. "Because right now he's doing some great things, but I think we still have a lot yet to see from Wyatt Hubert."

Hubert agreed that there's more out there.

"Every day, be better today than you were yesterday. That's the thing I tell myself 24/7, because if you're not taking any steps forward you're not getting better," he said. "Obviously I'm very passionate about this program and about this team and about the state — just because I'm here — and I'm glad to be here and represent the state locally.

"It's definitely something I take a lot of pride in."