4 Kansas State Football Players Who Must Step Up In 2016

The Kansas State Wildcats had their first losing season in eight years in 2015, going just 6-7 while dealing with a wide array of devastating injuries. Now healthy, head coach Bill Snyder's squad is looking to put those struggles behind them and return to their winning ways. Here are the four players that need to step up for that to happen:

4) CB Duke Shelley

Kansas State's pass defense was absolutely atrocious last season, ranking just 120th in the country (out of 127 teams) by allowing 285.5 yards per game through the air. Now they have to replace best player in that secondary, Morgan Burns, to avoid being even worse in 2016.

Now, that defense is expected to get a big boost from the return of safety Dante Barnett, who missed most of last season, but Shelley is expected to be the guy on the perimeter. He showed all the makings of becoming a true shutdown cover corner as a true freshman, and K-State needs him to become that guy sooner rather than later.

3) WR Deante Burton

Kansas State has a relatively thin receiving core, and to make matters worse, no one really stepped up as a go-to guy in 2015. Burton is perhaps the lone playmaker of the bunch, and the pressure is on him to produce more than the 510 yards and four touchdowns he did last year.

2) Dalton Risner

Risner is K-State's only returning starter along the offensive line. Not only is he expected build on what was a fantastic freshman season last year, but he's being counted on to take over a leadership role as a sophomore.

1) Pick a QB

The biggest reason why Kansas State won just six games last year was because of their massive quarterback struggles. A large part of that is due to injuries - starter Jesse Ertz was lost for the season after just two snaps, third-string Alex Delton missed most of the season with a knee injury - but someone has to take control of this team and run with it.

Joe Hubener started 11 games last year but was wildly inconsistent, throwing for just 1,837 yards, nine touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He's not expected to get a chance to redeem himself (he was benched for wide receiver Kody Cook, who played QB in the bowl game last year), so it's an absolute necessity that either Ertz or Delton 1) stay healthy and 2) show they can be productive.

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Related Topics: Jesse Ertz, Kansas State Wildcats Football, Bill Snyder, Big 12 Football, NCAA Football