We know by now that any Bill Snyder football team starts on defense and its special teams.
And in all honesty, last year's mediocre 6-6 season wasn't because of the play of the defense.
From that team return seven starters giving one every reason to count on even better play this fall.
Here are KStateFans Five Wildcat defensive Stars for 2010:
BRANDON HAROLD, 6-5, 258, Soph, Defensive End:
A freshman all-American in 2008, Harold missed the 2009 season due to an injury, but appears to be fully recovered. Against UCLA, Harold had five tackles, which included one sack. He also forced a fumble and broke up a pass.
"Very gifted and very athletic," said ends coach Joe Bob Clements. "Brandon has the skills to be a very disruptive defensive player."
TYSYN HARTMAN, 6-3, 206, Jr, Safety:
Tysyn was an honorable mention all-Big 12 defensive back a year ago with his 54 tackles, 11 pass deflections, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
First-year secondary coach Keith Burns said of Hartman, "He's a smart guy with a quarterback history which automatically gives a guy an advantage because he understands the passing game and passing concepts. He's played with success in the Big 12. He's just a calming force and his leadership is excellent." Hartman opened with six tackles against the Bruins.
EMMANUEL LAMUR, 6-4, 219, Jr, Safety:
Yes, it's troublesome that two safeties are named as potential stars of the team, but K-State has a pair of good ones. Lamur notched 68 tackles last year with five deflections and two recoveries.
"Emmanuel just gets better at something on every snap," said Burns. "He's a tough, physical guy, who is very good at good run support, but he's still learning football." Of the overall position, Burns said, "There's nothing like playing experience and Tysyn and Emmanuel both have that." Lamur had five tackles in the opener.
PRIZELL BROWN, 6-2, 265, Sr, Defensive Tackle:
A defensive end a year ago, Brown has beefed up and gives the ‘Cats extreme quickness in its interior line. "Inside is a good fit for him," said defensive line coach Mo Latimore of Brown's move from end to tackle.
"Each game last year we saw improvement. He's an athletic kid who can move. He has some quickness to his game, and definitely some ability." Coach Bill Snyder adds, "Prizell has been prominent up to this point in time. He's gained weight and really handling the weight well." Brown's debut against UCLA included four tackles with one sack.
ALEX HREBEC, 5-11, 247, Jr, Linebacker:
Not big enough, not fast enough, not strong enough … yes, it's true that Hrebec is not the blueprint of a Big 12 linebacker, but all he does is make plays. Hrebec had 100 tackles to his credit through his first two seasons, and then opened the 2010 season with six solo stops and another six assists against UCLA.
"He's just a smart player," said linebacker coach Chris Cosh. "He's in the right place at the right time nearly every time. There's something to be said for having that feel for the game."
So there it is, KSF's top 5 rising stars to look for on Defense.