This week, we’ve started a new series examining the most indispensable player for every team in the Big 12. In other words, who is the player each team could least afford to lose to injury?
We’re knocking on wood before we turn in these posts; so no need to worry about a jinx.
We continue with the Kansas State Wildcats.
Most indispensable player: Receiver Tyler Lockett
Why Kansas State can’t afford to lose him: A do-it-all playmaker, Lockett should be the centerpiece of the Wildcats’ offensive game plans this season.
With John Hubert and Tramaine Thompson completing their eligibility, along with Daniel Sams’ transfer, Kansas State is searching for additional playmakers. Until they find some, the burden will fall on Lockett’s shoulders.
Fortunately for K-State, Lockett is one of the few Big 12 stars who can handle such a burden. The senior is arguably the best receiver in the Big 12, and he has the ability to change games with his return skills. Last season he had 81 receptions for 1,262 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also averaged 26.5 yards per kick return with 36.4 percent of his returns going for 30 yards or more.
Yet Lockett’s impact is bigger than numbers.
After making the majority of his impact as a freshman returner, Lockett has worked hard to transform into a polished receiver heading into his senior season. His route running is much improved and his consistency makes him a coach’s best friend. His quickness, shiftiness and overall speed make him a valuable asset for any offense.
Outside of Lockett, the rest of the Wildcats' roster recorded 44 receptions in 2013, with Curry Sexton (39) and Kyle Klein (5) as the lone returnees with a reception a season ago. On the remainder of the roster, Deante Burton and Judah Jones were among KSU’s other receivers who emerged from spring football looking like they have the skills to help take attention off Lockett.
But no receiver on the roster could fill the void left by the Tulsa, Okla., native. Lockett’s ability to change a game in so many different ways makes him a player the Wildcats cannot afford to lose.