During the next two weeks, we’ll be breaking down the 10 best players at the moment on every team in the Big 12.
These lists won’t include junior college or freshman signees who haven’t arrived on campus yet. Rather, they will include only the players on their teams this spring. Some of these rankings might look different after the spring, but this is how we see them now.
On Friday, we continue with the Kansas State Wildcats.
1. WR Tyler Lockett: What more can be said about Lockett? The argument could be made that he is the Big 12’s best offensive player. He was simply unstoppable in 2013. Lockett’s per-game averages of 6.75 receptions and 105.17 receiving yards led all Big 12 receivers. If he’s healthy and on the field, he’s going to make plays -- it’s just that simple.
2. DE Ryan Mueller: Relentless and intense, Mueller is back to create havoc in opposing backfields after recording at least one sack in eight of 13 games a year ago. He doesn’t overwhelm blockers with his size and strength, but his quickness and desire make him difficult to block.
3. OG Cody Whitehair: An excellent anchor in the middle, Whitehair had a superb sophomore season, earning second-team All-Big 12 honors. He returns to give KSU’s offense a solid building block at guard.
4. C BJ Finney: Finney joins Whitehair to give the Wildcats one of the Big 12’s better interior lineman duos. A first-team All-Big 12 performer, Finney has been a staple in one of the conference’s most productive running games for the past three seasons.
5. S Dante Barnett: A key playmaker for KSU’s defense as a sophomore, Barnett will take on an even bigger role in 2014 with Ty Zimmerman no longer alongside him in the secondary. Barnett had 75 tackles and four interceptions in 2013.
6. QB Jake Waters: The senior is coming off a strong end to his first season with the Wildcats. His 66 adjusted QBR (on a scale of 0-100, with 50 being average) ranked seventh in the Big 12, but his 81 adjusted QBR in November and December was better than every Big 12 quarterback except Oklahoma State's Clint Chelf and Texas Tech's Davis Webb.
7. DT Travis Britz: Britz was active in the defensive interior for the Wildcats in 2013, finishing with 6.5 tackles for loss and three sacks as a sophomore. He provides a solid piece for KSU to build around this fall.
8. QB Daniel Sams: KSU is exploring ways to use the dynamic Sams, but there’s no question he’s too talented to leave on the sidelines. He could line up at multiple positions this fall after being responsible for 15 touchdowns in 2013, tied for sixth in the Big 12. His 5.31 yards per touch from scrimmage was easily the conference’s best among quarterbacks.
9. LB Jonathan Truman: The former walk-on earned a starting spot as a junior and became one of the defense’s most productive players. His 89 tackles ranked second on the team, and two of his three double-digit tackle games (Texas Tech, Oklahoma) came in the final four games of the regular season.
10. FB Glenn Gronkowski: Whoever wins the race to start at running back for the Wildcats will have the peace of mind of knowing Gronkowski will be helping to pave the way. He proved to be a quality blocker and legit receiving threat during his freshman season. And, yes, he’s one of those Gronkowkis.