- Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer
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Over the last week, we've been examining the most indispensable player for every team in the Big 12. In other words, the player each team could least afford to lose to injury.
We're knocking on wood before we turn in these posts; so no need to worry about a jinx.
We continue below with the Kansas State Wildcats.
Most indispensable player: Safety Dante Barnett
2014 stats: 77 tackles, 8 pass breakups, 4 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions
Why K-State can't afford to lose him: Two years ago, the K-State defense was night and day when safety Ty Zimmerman was on the field. Zimmerman was the glue that held the defense together. Now, after learning alongside Zimmerman, Barnett has become that glue.
A starter since his true freshman season, Barnett has emerged into one of the top safeties in the Big 12. And flanked by standout cornerbacks Morgan Burns and Danzel McDaniel, K-State should also boast one of the top secondaries in the league, if not the entire Bill Snyder era.
The Wildcats have major retooling to do elsewhere, notably on offense where they're replacing quarterback Jake Waters and All-American wideout Tyler Lockett. While the rest of the squad endures growing pains early on, K-State will be leaning heavily on its secondary to slow opposing air attacks. Barnett, who might have the best nose for the ball in the entire Big 12, will be a big reason why the Wildcats should be successful doing just that.