The Kansas State Wildcats fielded one of the top defenses in the Big 12 in 2012 which helped them secure a share of the Big 12 title. In 2013, they will have to find a lot of new faces to step up as the Wildcats return just two starters on defense. One of them, linebacker Tre Walker, didn’t even finish the year after going down with a knee injury. He has worked his way back, however, and must find his rhythm early if Kansas State has any hope of retaining their conference title.
Walker was a major part of the defense before his injury in the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, recording 19 tackles, including three tackles for loss. After the injury, he continued to make a positive impact on the team, standing on the sidelines for every game and coached up his replacement, Jarell Childs, so that the team wouldn’t miss a beat. Head coach Bill Snyder will need him to be a leader on the field next season, however, for the team to be successful.
K-State’s defense loses a ton of talent from the 2012 team and Walker will pair with defensive back Ty Zimmerman as the only two players to come back for 2013. Walker has the skills to be an impact player and could turn out to be the Big 12’s best linebacker next season, but only if his knee can hold up. Over the last two seasons, Walker has recorded 71 tackles and will need to be right in the mix of things next fall.
There is a lot riding on the rehabilitation of Walker’s knee heading into 2013. If he returns as the same player or better, the Wildcats have a chance to hold it together defensively and stay near the top of the conference. If he can’t, K-State will be in for a long season on defense as they struggle to keep up with the Big 12’s high-powered offensive attacks.