STILLWATER — It's difficult for Mike Gundy to properly evaluate the progress of Oklahoma State's special teams units at this point.
The Cowboy coaching staff has decided to cut back on special teams drills this spring, primarily because many true freshmen who will contribute there this fall have not yet arrived on campus, while many other players likely will switch their special teams role during fall camp.
Still, there is a lot of intrigue surrounding special teams heading into 2013. The Cowboys will need to replace kicking triple threat Quinn Sharp. It will also be the second season using graduate assistant Ty Linder as the primary organizer after longtime special teams coordinator Joe DeForest left for West Virginia following the 2011 season.
Here's a look at where the OSU special teams units currently stand.
This doesn't become a full-fledged position battle until incoming freshman Ben Grogan arrives in the fall. But Gundy noted he has gotten a good look at the kickers on extra-point and field-goal tries this spring.
And so far, the results have not been positive.
Bobby Stonebreaker, whose only game action of his career is five kickoffs against Savannah State last season, returns for his junior season. Transfer Kip Smith, who was the starting kicker at UCLA before a quadriceps injury ended his 2011 season, also is a junior.
“It's going to take a little bit of time, so I think patience is important,” Gundy said. “We have guys on our campus, and we have one that's coming in, that have the ability to be successful.
“But if I was to tell you it's been anything other than below average at this point, it would probably be untrue.”
Michael Reichenstein, who has punted once in his career, is the only true punter currently on the roster.
The Cowboys could not settle on Josh Cooper's replacement in this role last season — using Charlie Moore, David Glidden, Caleb Muncrief and Ashton Lampkin with marginal results.
Then Josh Stewart suddenly emerged in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, returning his first punt for 64 yards. Gundy said that was enough for Stewart to earn the job for now, and he has been working as the No. 1 punt returner this spring.