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Indispensable player: Stanford

7/13/2011

See your team in your mind's eye -- 24 starters, including specialists.

If you could put an absolute halo of safety -- perhaps a girdle of indestructibility? -- around just one, who would it be?

We're rating each team's most indispensable player. And when the choice is too obvious -- say, Stanford -- we'll try to offer a second choice.

Up next: Stanford

OT Jonathan Martin

Martin, a junior, is probably the best offensive lineman in the Pac-12. Perhaps even more notable: The 6-foot-6, 304-pounder protects the blindside of the best player in college football. So, yeah, QB Andrew Luck is the Cardinal's most irreplaceable player. But the head man in charge of making sure that there's no need to consider that dire possibility is Martin. Martin was honorable mention All-Pac-10 as a redshirt freshman and first-team All-Pac-10 as a sophomore. He'll likely get plenty of preseason All-American attention -- he's already been named to the Playboy All-American team. He has started 24 of 26 games over the past two seasons at left tackle, and last year the Cardinal gave up just six sacks after giving up seven the year before. Oh, and he's also a very good run blocker. Further, he's one of only two returning starters on the Cardinal's O-line -- All-American candidate David DeCastro is the other at right guard -- and the depth behind him owns little to no experience. Best guess is senior Tyler Mabry, who has no starts to his credit, would switch from right to left tackle if Martin went down, and redshirt freshman David Yankey would step in on the right side for Mabry. That is not a scenario Stanford -- or Luck -- wants to explore.