The Jug has recently been apprised of society’s love of lists, so today we kick off the first of what we hope will be a series of top tens for the Wildcats. With so many players playing an important role in this year’s success, it’s difficult to identify the ten most important. It’s pretty much impossible to rank them. We try to do both anyway, and welcome healthy debate over the ordering of this list. But please, no swearing – The Jug’s ego is already bruised enough as it is.
10. TE Travis Tannahill
The first Big 12 first team selection on our list, Tannahill received much the same punishment of Collin Klein without the glory, leading the way on K-State’s well-honed option attack. He was also sent across the middle to pick up third downs on a regular basis. More than once he was spotted clutching the ball while being painfully sandwiched by linebackers, refusing to let go. Tannahill finished one touchdown catch on 22 receptions, averaging 13 ypc.
9. PK Anthony Cantele
Few things are more important than viable safety net. Cantele scored 116 points this year by hitting all 62 of his PATs and 86 percent of his field goals, including 4/5 from 40-49 yards. Snyder never allowed him to attempt from 50+ yards, but if that’s what the Fiesta Bowl comes down to, don’t bet against him. A second team All Big 12 selection.
8. DB Nigel Malone
The senior tied both Ty Zimmerman and Allen Chapman for most interceptions on the team with five, but accumulated 102 yards on his interception returns. Spoiler alert: Chapman was left off this list. Unfair? Maybe – but putting your offense an extra 20 yards upfield when you give them the ball back has to count for something. Malone was the best DB in a stellar secondary charged with keeping the best passing conference in the nation in check.
7. WR Tyler Lockett
While Chris Harper led the team in reception yardage this year, Lockett wasn’t far behind with 652 yards on 40 receptions, leading all receivers with 16.3 ypc while recording four touchdowns. However, what solidifies his position here were his 533 kickoff return yards. Lockett averaged 33.3 yards per kickoff return and took two all the way to the house. He also had three punt returns for 44 yards (14.7 average).
6. LT Cornelius Lucas
At least one big boy has to make this list, and Lucas fits the bill for his importance to team success. The junior from New Orleans was a Big-12 first team selection and helped pave the way for Klein, Hubert, et. al. to rack up 2380 yards rushing this year. He also demonstrated how to protect his quarterback without incurring holding penalties, helping to make K-State’s the least penalized unit in the league.
5. S Ty Zimmerman
When Zimmerman went down with an injury against TCU, the entire complexion of this team changed. The Horned Frogs were shut out until midway through the final quarter, and eventually put ten points on the board. And while the K-State offense was utterly inept against Baylor, this team absolutely missed Zimmerman’s ability to both shut down the passing game and move up for important tackles. Good news for the Wildcats: Bill Snyder announced that the third-team All-American has begun practicing again.
4. RB John Hubert
Hubert barely eeked out the team lead for rushing yards, recording 892 to Klein’s 890. And while Klein’s number was almost always called inside the five yard line, Hubert still recorded 15 touchdowns this season, the longest being a 95-yard scamper. Hubert was a All Big 12 first team selection, as were the next three on this list…