- Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer
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The past week, we’ve been examining the most indispensable players for every team in the Big 12. In other words, who is 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 pick the series back up with the Oklahoma Sate Cowboys.
Most indispensable player: Offensive lineman Daniel Koenig
Why Oklahoma State can’t afford to lose him: After graduating 30 seniors, the Cowboys will be the youngest team in the Big 12 next season. And they’ll be even younger along the offensive line.
Oklahoma State’s returning offensive linemen have made only 38 career starts, which is ninth-fewest in the league, just ahead of Kansas. Koenig owns 22 of those starts. Factor in that two of the team’s other experienced linemen -- tackles Devin Davis and Brandon Garrett -- are coming off serious leg injuries, and that longtime offensive line coach Joe Wickline is now coaching for the Texas Longhorns, and Koenig becomes all the more indispensable.
Koenig’s versatility to play either tackle or guard gives new offensive line coach Bob Connelly the flexibility to plug in Koenig whereever he is needed up front. Until Davis returns, Koenig can man left tackle. When Davis does return, Koenig can swing to right tackle or slide inside to solidify one of the guard spots. The fact he can pull off such moves while maintaining an All-Big 12 caliber level makes Koenig one of the Big 12’s most valuable offensive linemen, if the not one of the most valuable players overall.
With a semi-new quarterback, a young group of receivers and a defense in full-on rebuild mode, the fledgling Cowboys could experience some growing pains early next season. Fortunately for them, they have a rock along the offensive line in Koenig, a player they can depend on from the outset as the rest of the team comes along.
4dJake Trotter, Brandon Chatmon and Max Olson