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22 DAYS TO KICKOFF: Dante Barnett

In which BracketCat counts down the 22nd day until kickoff with a profile of safety Dante Barnett.

If the preseason accolades he's receiving already haven't been a clue, this year will be Dante Barnett's time to shine as the captain and leader of a potent defense.
If the preseason accolades he's receiving already haven't been a clue, this year will be Dante Barnett's time to shine as the captain and leader of a potent defense.
Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

#22 Dante Barnett
True Senior
6-1 | 193
Tulsa, Okla.


Position: Safety

Previous College: None

Projection: Starter

Status: On Scholarship

Dante Barnett (b. June 14, 1993) is a dynamic player who has started a defensive-best 28 career games at safety, including every game during the last two seasons, and is the team’s top returning tackler with 176 career stops.

Barnett has seven career interceptions, three shy of entering Kansas State University’s career top-10 list.

He was voted a team captain for the 2015 season and earned 2015 preseason All-Big 12 honors from all major preseason magazines, including Lindy’s, which named him the fourth-best safety in the nation entering 2015.

These honors are predicated mainly on his breakthrough 2014 season, in which Barnett started all 13 games, earning second-team All-Big 12 honors from the league’s coaches, and was named an All-Big 12 performer by and Phil Steele after he finished second on the team in both tackles (77) and interceptions (3).

Barnett tallied career highs in tackles, tackles for loss (4.0) and passes defended (11); carded a season-high 12 tackles and a career-best 3.0 TFLs against UTEP; and recorded 11 tackles in a signature win at No. 11 Oklahoma.

He defended four passes against Texas — tied for 14th most in the nation and fourth most in the Big 12 during the season, although he should have had three picks — en route to Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors. It was also the most passes broken up by a Wildcat since Rashad Washington also had four against Oklahoma in 2003.

Barnett did have three interceptions in a four-game stretch, however, picking off passes against Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Kansas. In fact, three of his seven career interceptions have come against the Jayhawks.

Barnett, who probably is the best overall player on the team this season, saw action mainly on special teams to begin his true freshman year after grayshirting, but was called upon to start during the final two games in 2012.

He appeared in all 13 games in 2012, including starts against Baylor and Texas; registered 24 tackles, including one for a loss; and broke up two passes. But amid all that good, there was one night of horrible, unmitigated bad.

Although Barnett notched a career-best 14 tackles at Baylor, they came because Nick Florence and his receivers picked on our man like a jock picking on a fat kid. Barnett was torched — early, often, repeatedly, mercilessly.

He followed that up that difficult life lesson with four stops against the Longhorns, came away with two tackles against Texas Tech, and also had one each against Missouri State, Oklahoma, Iowa State and Oklahoma State.

All of that experience proved invaluable in 2013, when Barnett took over as the starting strong safety, started all 13 games, ranked third on the team in tackles with 75 and led the squad with four interceptions.

Barnett also carded 109 interception-return yards to rank eighth in school history and second in the Big 12. He ended the year on fire, totaling 32 tackles (one for loss), three INTs and a fumble recovery in his final four games.

He subsequently was named the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Defensive MVP after carding eight tackles and returning an interception 51 yards to set up K-State's final touchdown against the beleaguered Michigan defense.

That performance followed a two-interception game at Kansas during the regular-season finale to tie a K-State season high and also tie for the sixth most in a game in school history.

He led the team in tackles against Louisiana (9), while he registered a season-high 12 stops against Oklahoma.

Prior to arriving at K-State, Barnett recorded a ridiculous 100 tackles and nine interceptions on his way to earning second-team all-state honors as a senior in 2010 at Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, Okla.

He also hauled in 10 touchdowns as a wide receiver. He recorded 101 tackles and collected nine interceptions as a junior, and also caught 32 passes for 775 yards and six touchdowns.

Barnett led Booker T. Washington to a 13-1 record and a state championship in 2010-11, and was a high school teammate of recently graduated Wildcat Tyler Lockett. He originally was recruited as an athlete.