STILLWATER — Oklahoma State's home finale Saturday afternoon against No. 23 Texas Tech will be a time bid farewell to some beloved Cowboys.
Like Quinn Sharp, the kicking master and perhaps OSU's most valuable player. Or Brodrick Brown, the undersized-but-tenacious cornerback who earned the nickname “Bulldog.” Or Lane Taylor, the anchor of the offensive line who is expected to make his 46th career start Saturday.
But the celebration could really say more about the OSU program's future, and is another sign of the program Mike Gundy has built in Stillwater.
The Cowboys sit at 6-3 with three regular-season games to play, and every single touchdown has been scored (or thrown) by a player expected to return next season. Of 10 individual takeaways tallied by OSU this season, eight have come from non-seniors. And seven of the Cowboys' top 10 tacklers are expected back in 2013.
“It's not like what it would have been last year,” said coach Mike Gundy, referring to the departure of stars Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon. “It was like, ‘Golly, all those guys are leaving?'
“There's a group of them leaving (this year), but there's a pretty strong group coming back.”
A strong group that includes youngsters like Josh Stewart, who has emerged as the Cowboys' prime receiving target and a versatile offensive weapon. Or former youngsters who are growing into veteran leaders like safety Daytawion Lowe, receiver Charlie Moore and linebacker Shaun Lewis. Even a three-man carousel with inexperienced quarterbacks has, for the most part, produced wildly positive results.