Over the next two weeks, we'll be featuring 10 players in the Big 12 who are on the spot this spring. Maybe they're coming back from injury. Maybe they've much to prove after a disappointing 2015 season. Maybe they're embroiled in a key position battle. Whatever the case, this spring is big for them.
Today's player on the spot: Kansas State WR Deante Burton
Burton is not coming off injury. And he's not in danger of losing his job. But if the Wildcats are to have any chance of jumping back into the top half of the Big 12 this season, they're going to need a big season out of Burton.
Either way, by no means will wide receiver be an overwhelming strength for K-State. This is the not going to be 2014, when Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton both surpassed 1,000 yards receiving.
But at least in Burton, the Wildcats could have a potential difference-maker at the position. And that could be enough for Bill Snyder to get by with.
There were signs late last year that Burton might be on the verge of breaking out as a senior. In K-State's regular-season finale, Burton delivered his first 100-yard receiving game and the finest performance of his career, as the Wildcats rallied to upset West Virginia, 24-23. Burton reeled off one of the game-changing plays in that game, dashing past the Mountaineer secondary early in the third quarter to haul in a 77-yard touchdown pass, which ignited the K-State comeback. Burton went on to finish with five catches for 135 yards receiving.
K-State, however, needs Burton to become the player he was against West Virginia more consistently in 2016.
The Wildcats are not brimming over with offensive firepower. Slot receiver Dominique Heath and fullback Winston Dimel both had their moments last year. But neither is a No. 1 receiver. And after Heath, Dimel and Burton, the Wildcats are basically a blank slate otherwise offensively.
With safety Dante Barnett officially getting a fifth year back, K-State does have a chance to be strong on defense. Defensive tackle Will Geary, linebacker Elijah Lee and cornerback Duke Shelley are all budding standouts.
But at some point, the Wildcats are going to have to produce more offensively than they did last year. Better quarterbacking would obviously help.
But Burton emerging into a viable go-to option certainly would, too.