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 Baylor.
Most indispensable player: QB Bryce Petty
2012 stats: Completed 7 of 10 passes for 97 yards and one touchdown.
Why Baylor can't afford to lose him: Hear me out on this one. No single defender is even close to this, and the "obvious" choice is Lache Seastrunk. After all, once he became the starter, the Bears went 5-1 with the lone loss by one possession on the road to Big 12 co-champion Oklahoma. Before that, Baylor was slumming it at the bottom of the Big 12 at 0-4 in league play.
Yes, that's true, but the defense's late surge and metamorphosis into one of the Big 12's top three defenses had as much to do with that winning streak as Seastrunk, and Baylor's depth at the position hurts Seastrunk when you start talking about being "indispensable." Seastrunk can do things with the ball in his hands nobody else can do and make people miss that no one else can make miss, but Glasco Martin averaged nearly five yards a carry last season and is definitely capable.
Petty is low on real game experience, but I know what I've seen with my own eyes. I've seen what he's capable of in practice for three years, and the gap between Petty and backup Seth Russell is much bigger than anyone thought before the spring. As he's gotten experience with the first team, that's surely grown.
I buy Seastrunk as Baylor's best player, but the Bears would find the team suffering most with the loss of Petty. It won't take long for him to shine and prove that this fall. The combination of NFL quarterback physical skills and four years in an offensive system that's proven its effectiveness time and time again should make Petty a star. I've been preaching it all offseason, and Petty has the ability to take Baylor's offense to the next level. He's more physically gifted than Nick Florence, and if he can prove himself as a better decision-maker, he'll quickly emerge as one of the Big 12's best players.