Defensive tackle Mike Mustafa has left the Oklahoma State program for “personal reasons” related to family issues, coach Mike Gundy confirmed Saturday during his Media Day gathering in Stillwater.
Mustafa, a redshirt freshman, was regarded as a promising prospect on the defensive line. Listed third on the depth chart behind Anthony Rogers and Christian Littlehead at one tackle spot, he was expected to see his first action as a Cowboy in 2012. Instead, he becomes the second player to leave the program this preseason, after offensive tackle Michael Bowie was let go for a violation of team rules earlier in the week.
“He decided that he wants to be back closer to home,” Gundy said of Mustafa. “He's going to try to find someplace to go to school in the Houston area, from what I understand, probably starting in January.”
Mustafa's departure impacts depth at defensive tackle, although the position has been fortified in recent years, to the point that Nigel Nicholas was moved back to his natural position of defensive end.
As it is, the Cowboys still project five players for the two tackle spots: junior-college transfer Calvin Barnett, who has already ascended to the top of the depth chart at defensive tackle after a strong spring; returning starter Rogers; sophomores Littlehead and James Castleman; and junior Davidell Collins.
Gundy said that in the end, the move likely benefits Mustafa and the Cowboys.
“If a guy like Mike is not fully committed mentally to being here, and he had some doubts based on a personal situation, in my opinion he's better off not being here,” Gundy said.
“We still have to go back to, you have to be all in to be here. It's tough to be a college football player if you're not all in.”
HEDGEPETH HAPPILY BACK
Cornerback Devin Hedgepeth tore his Achilles tendon against Texas A&M last September — then re-tore it in mid-December after getting out of bed too quickly.
Yet following two surgeries and a speedy recovery, Hedgepeth was back on the field for the Cowboys' first fall practice.
“That was really my first time being back with the team in like a practice scenario,” Hedgepeth said of Friday's workout. “So it just felt awesome to be back with the guys, running around, yelling, all of that.”
Hedgepeth was valuable early last season as the OSU's third cornerback and nickelback, tallying seven tackles and two interceptions in four games before the injury.
Now, he's healthy enough to play. The next goal is completely trusting the injury is healed.