July 12, 2007

McKinney looks to go out on high note

We're now left with just 10 Wildcats on our list of players most important to Kansas State's success in 2007, and the defender checking in at No. 10 may come as a bit of a surprise to some. Few Wildcats were involved in as many big plays, some good and some not so good, as Justin McKinney, a corner who figures to play a big role again as a senior.

Let's start with the numbers McKinney posted a year ago. The 5-foot-9, 191-pound Sanford, Fla., product is K-State's third-leading returning tackler after making 54 stops in 2006. McKinney led the Wildcats with eight passes broken up and tied for second in both fumbles forced (two) and recovered (two) last season.

The former Garden City Community College standout also made noise as a return specialist. McKinney's 12 kickoff returns were the most of any Wildcat, and he averaged nearly 25 yards per return including an 88-yard return for a touchdown to open K-State's blowout victory over Florida International.

Those numbers represent serious production but only part of the reason why McKinney rates so highly on this list even though there's tons of depth at corner. McKinney also cracks the Top 10 in terms of importance to K-State's success because of his need to improve his consistency.

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