- David Ubben, College Football
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Every season, every player feels they've got at least something to prove. Otherwise, the work wouldn't all be worth it. That said, some guys have more to prove than others.
These are the guys with the most to prove on their respective teams.
Next up: Kansas State.
Plenty to prove: LB Tre Walker
It was terrible to see Walker go down with a knee injury last season against Texas Tech. I was there to see it, but he was a big part of the defense and other linebackers like Justin Tuggle and Arthur Brown were a little emotional after the game when they knew it was possible his injury was serious. It was, and he missed the rest of the season. Now, he's on the way back, and joins Ty Zimmerman as the only returning starter on one of the Big 12's top defenses a year ago.
He remained around the team and helped Jarell Childs slide into his old spot and learn on the job with his role suddenly much more integral. Walker traveled to away games and played the role of cheerleader/coach on the sidelines after the injury, but he'll be back this fall with a lot to prove. He's already released a short documentary on YouTube about his comeback from the injury (I'd recommend a quick watch.) Truth is, Walker might quietly be the Big 12's best linebacker in 2013, but he's got to prove it. He's made a ton of plays over the past two seasons (none more memorable than his goal-line stand against Miami in 2011), and the 6-3, 225-pounder has 71 tackles over the past two seasons.
Knee injuries aren't as devastating as they used to be, but coming back from one is still a ton of work and a whole lot of pain in rehab. It's just as painful to have to sit on the sidelines and not play the game you love, but Walker's finally going to make his return this fall. When he does, he'll have to prove he can be the same player or better, and prove Kansas State can still field a great defense without Arthur Brown at linebacker and all new cornerbacks and defensive linemen.
1dJake Trotter, Brandon Chatmon and Max Olson