STILLWATER — Players like Jacob Lacey are the motivation behind head coach Mike Gundy's philosophy in building the Oklahoma State football program.
When Gundy looks at his senior cornerback, he sees a player whose game could be ready to make the jump to all-conference level — just in time for his college career to end.
"I think he's ready to perform at a high level,” Gundy said. "It's just a shame we couldn't have redshirted him when he got here.”
If Lacey had come along a couple years later rather than in Gundy's first season on the job, maybe the program would have been in good enough shape to redshirt a player like him. Then, instead of having a player reach that all-conference level as a senior, Gundy would have two years to enjoy that talent.
"If you get far enough in your program, a guy like Lacey has two years left,” Gundy said. "That's where you want to be.”
Heading into his fourth season as the Cowboys' coach, Gundy hasn't quite reached that point in the program, but he's getting closer. Only five true freshmen played last year, and even fewer could avoid being redshirted this year.
Of course, this year's number will be heavily impacted by the group of nine incoming junior-college players on the roster, many of whom will fill spots on the two-deep that could have been available to true freshmen.