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22 DAYS TO 2016 KICKOFF: Dante Barnett

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In which BracketCat counts down the 22nd day until the 2016 kickoff with a profile of defensive back Dante Barnett.

After two very strong seasons as a starting safety, Dante Barnett looks to bounce back in 2016 from his injury-plagued redshirt season.
After two very strong seasons as a starting safety, Dante Barnett looks to bounce back in 2016 from his injury-plagued redshirt season.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

#22 Dante Barnett
Redshirt Senior
6-1 | 194
Tulsa, Okla.

Bio

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 29 career games at safety.

Barnett also is tied for first among active Big 12 players with his 29 career starts, despite a 27-game starting streak ending due to injury in the 2015 season opener. He earned a medical hardship and will be a senior again in 2016.

He started the season opener against South Dakota and recorded five tackles before suffering a season-ending arm injury in the first half of the contest. This presaged a host of other injuries that nearly derailed the entire year.

This year also will be Barnett's third straight season being named a team captain, making him one of six three-time team captains in school history. He graduated with a degree in kinesiology from Kansas State in May 2015.

Barnett enters his final campaign as the team’s top returning tackler with 181 career stops, while he also is tops with seven career interceptions. He sits three picks shy of entering K-State’s career top-10 list.

This summer, Barnett has earned Preseason All-Big 12 honors from the media that regularly cover the league, in addition to Athlon, Phil Steele and Sporting News. He also is a 2016 AFCA Good Works Team nominee.

This follows his being named to the 2015 Bronko Nagurski Award, Bednarik Award, Wuerffel Trophy, Walter Camp Award and Jim Thorpe Award watch lists. It's too bad his injury wasted all of that hype, because it won't repeat itself.

Barnett also 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.

Those honors were 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 ESPN.com 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); a season-high 12 tackles and career-best three tackles for loss against UTEP; and 11 tackles in a signature win at then-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 picks 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.

Barnett's bowl 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.

Barnett also hauled in 10 touchdowns as a prep wide receiver. (He originally was recruited as an athlete.) He recorded 101 tackles and collected nine picks as a junior, and also caught 32 passes for 775 yards and six TDs.

He led Booker T. Washington to a 13-1 record and a state championship in 2010-11, and was a high school teammate of former K-State and current Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett.