As the media throng grew larger, Mike Yurcich's eyes grew wider.
It was his third practice of the spring, and the new Oklahoma State offensive coordinator was facing a larger group of reporters than he could have ever imagined at Division III Shippensburg.
“It kind of is an adjustment, but I don't mind it,” Yurcich said. “I like getting to know more people. I'm a people person and to get around more and more people, it's a heck of an opportunity.”
That's what this move was all about for Yurcich. An undeniable opportunity to receive more money and exposure, while rapidly shooting up the coaching ranks.
But along with it came an extended adjustment period.
Before Yurcich's initial interview with OSU coach Mike Gundy last month, he'd never been to Oklahoma.
“The quail seem to be a little bit faster here in Oklahoma,” Yurcich joked. “Because we went hunting the other day, a couple weeks ago with the other coaches. Boy, they came out of that bush and I know I didn't hit too many. They were making fun of me, but hey, I'm a better shot in Pennsylvania. They were all going downhill at me and I was struggling.”
But Yurcich says it has been an easier-than-expected move.
He has a wife and two young boys, not settled in a school, so they quickly made the move to Stillwater with him. And the community has embraced them.
“I'll tell you, the town is really neat,” Yurcich said. “You can sense the amount of pride they have in this university and this football program and it's special to be a part of that.”
LAVEY ‘CONTROLS GAME' FOR OSU DEFENSE
The Cowboys appear to be stacked at linebacker again in 2013, only losing one rotation player in starter Alex Elkins.
Shaun Lewis, who's poised to be a four-year starter come fall, often garners attention. Lyndell Johnson and Ryan Simmons have shown flashes of athleticism and potential as youngsters. Two highly touted recruits in Seth Jacobs and Jeremiah Tshimanga should see the field for the first time in 2013.
But defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer, who also coaches the linebackers, stressed the importance of Caleb Lavey, the veteran in the middle who sometimes goes a bit unheralded.
“People have no idea how Caleb controls a game for us,” Spencer said. “How when he does his job, the ball is going to bounce out and somebody else can make a play. Or if somebody's not doing their job and the ball comes back in at times, he's there to make a play. It all works together.
“He's the general out there. Everybody respects him a lot. They know he can get them lined up, they know he's going to make the adjustments off of motion. To me that's not an intangible, that's a tangible.”
Lavey, who enters 2013 with 28 consecutive starts, tallied 53 tackles (seven for loss), 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble in 2012.
SMITH ‘ALWAYS' WORKING ON RECEIVING
With Joseph Randle leaving OSU early for the NFL, the Cowboys didn't just lose an electric playmaker and reliable workhouse in the backfield. They lost a weapon at receiver, as Randle finished with 108 catches for 917 yards and three touchdowns in his three seasons in Stillwater.
That hasn't exactly been regarded as a strength of Jeremy Smith, who will move into the starting running back role. He's totaled just 15 catches for 112 yards in three seasons, including three receptions for 32 yards in 2012.
But Smith said that is an area of his game he's focusing on.
“That's always something to work on, because it really helps your game and it makes you more of a dual-threat running back, too,” he said. “It's always important, every year.”
Junior Desmond Roland, who's expected to back up Smith, should provide help in that area, as well. He was once a nationally rated receiver prospect coming out of Lake Highland High School in Dallas.
TASK TO REPLACE QUINN SHARP BEGINS
Gundy knew what he had the past two seasons in Quinn Sharp — one of the best punters, field goal kickers and kickoff specialists all wrapped into a single player.
But Gundy admitted Wednesday it's difficult to fully appreciate a player like that until they're gone. And now Sharp is, leaving OSU to fill three crucial special teams voids for 2013.
Incoming freshman Ben Grogan will surely challenge for the kicking job — and possibly punting duties, as well. But he doesn't arrive until the fall, allowing Gundy and Co. to get a serious look at kickers like Bobby Stonebraker and Kip Smith and punter Michael Reichenstein over the next several weeks.
“It's different with (Sharp) not being out there, but the other guys have to step up,” Gundy said. “It's just the way it is. We've done it before. We'll do it (again). We'll come up with guys that will be able to punt and guys that will be able to kick and make field goals.”
Gundy's right in that the Cowboys have “done it before.” Sharp himself replaced both a Ray Guy Award winner in punter Matt Fodge in 2010 and then Lou Groza Award winner in Dan Bailey the following season.