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 State.
Most indispensable player: RB John Hubert
2012 stats: 189 carries, 947 yards, 15 touchdowns. 18 receptions, 98 yards, TD.
Why Kansas State can't afford to lose him: With this K-State team, who really knows? By the end of the season, this could all change, but entering 2013, there's no question to me that Hubert is the guy K-State can least afford to lose. The Waco, Texas native has tons of experience and topped 945 yards in each of the past two seasons. K-State should be strong on the offensive line, which returns all five starters and lost just one player on the final season depth chart along the O-line.
There's no Collin Klein, but Jake Waters or Daniel Sams' stepping into Klein's shoes gets a whole lot easier with Hubert in the backfield. Most important, he'll be productive and should top 1,000 yards. A good offensive line and a consistent running game makes any quarterback look a whole lot better. That applies to Waters or Sams. Without that running game, it could get very ugly for the young guys.
Hubert's biggest asset is he plays so, so much bigger than 5-foot-7 and 191 pounds. His center of gravity is low and he runs with a ton of power. He's tough to bring down and after losing Angelo Pease, K-State doesn't really have another running back on its roster that it can truly count on. Robert Rose is next on the depth chart, but the 5-foot-4, 176-pound senior has little experience and 13 career carries. Hubert's been really durable and that's a great sign for the Wildcats, who don't have much doubt as to their most indispensable player heading into their Big 12 title defense in 2013.