We're walking through each Big 12 team and identifying its most irreplaceable talent. He's the guy they can least afford to lose, and the guy to whom an injury or departure would have the most effect.
Let's move on with Kansas.
Most indispensable player: QB Jake Heaps
2012 stats: Redshirted after transferring from BYU.
Why Kansas can't afford to lose him: It's all about what's left. No doubt about it: I feel silly picking a player here that hasn't played a snap for the Jayhawks. Still, there's something to be said for Heaps' performances in his limited public performances as a Jayhawk, and we saw what the only other quarterback currently on the roster -- Michael Cummings -- had to offer last season. It wasn't pretty. You need great quarterback play to win in this league, and KU hasn't had anything close to it since Todd Reesing's departure. Cummings can't offer that, at least not yet. There's no guarantee that Heaps will (lesson learned from Dayne Crist last season), but he definitely offers a hope of competence at the position, with hope of something better.
Heaps' numbers at BYU weren't fantastic. He completed just over 57 percent of his passes and threw for 24 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, but he's so far above the bar at KU for quarterback, he has the ability to make a huge impact. He's unlikely to be one of the top 5-6 quarterbacks in the Big 12, but Kansas has been so far behind the rest of the Big 12 at the position for the past few years, Heaps has a great shot to offer some much-needed help. Heaps has impressed the coaches with his accuracy and ability to step into an immediate leadership role as an experienced, older player, who also happens to be married.
Kansas is trying to build and trying to break a 21-game losing streak in the Big 12, as well as distance themselves of a 1-33 skid over their last 34 Big 12 games since the 2009 Big 12 opener. You'll see the most improvement with an upgrade at quarterback. Heaps is likely to provide that and as such, is definitely KU's most indispensable player.