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Spring football round-up

by John Helsley Published: March 27, 2009

By Scott Wright

I’m sleep-deprived and downing Red Bull faster than Mike Gundy as I enter my third week as a father, but forging ahead — and with a break from diaper duty — I bring you this OSU football blog with a few quick-hitters from spring football and other things.

* First, here are a couple great stories on former OSU defensive back Martel Van Zant, who you may remember, is deaf. He’s getting ready to begin the arenafootball2 season with the Manchester (N.H.) Wolves, and don’t be surprised if he gets a shot at the NFL someday. I know the Tennessee Titans still really like his ability. Anyway, here’s a story from the af2 Web site, and another from CBS Sportsline’s Lesley Visser.

* No updates yet on Donte Foster of Guthrie, though it seems very likely he’ll be a Cowboy eventually. One detail that can’t be forgotten: OSU could have a scholarship come open, either by dismissal of a player (Bo Bowling is on trial for misdemeanor and felony drug charges) or non-qualification of a signee in the 2009 class. So don’t rule out the possibility of Foster getting offered a scholarship before next season begins.

* The buzz of spring camp has been splilt between receiver Justin Blackmon and the defensive line.

Blackmon was gaining attention last season on the scout team and continues to impress. He could very likely find his way onto the field opposite Dez Bryant this fall.

New defensive coordinator Bill Young has been very impressed with his new defensive line, particularly Derek Burton, who has moved from end to tackle. And Young isn’t too worried about the end spot without Burton. He feels the depth is there with Ugo Chinasa, Jeremiah Price and Jamie Blatnick. Richetti Jones and Darius Hart will also compete for playing time.

At tackle, Swanson Miller is slotted as the starter at nose guard alongside Burton. Young is still trying to find a home for Nigel Nicholas, the redshirt freshman who continues to improve. And Chris Donaldson’s name keeps coming up in post-practice interviews. Young loves his speed off the ball.

Horace Hubbard is phenomenally athletic for his size, but the junior-college transfer has a long way to be ready for Big 12 football on the interior of the defensive line.

* On the offensive line, Anthony Morgan is physically impressive and talented, but he’s battling the learning curve that most junior-college transfers deal with. He still could earn playing time, either as a starter or reserve, which Joe Wickline did not have to use last year. But with better depth, he may choose to rest some of his starters this season.

Jonathan Rush seems to be the frontrunner to start at left guard right now — Gundy seems to really like him — with Noah Franklin slotted in the right guard spot, ahead of Morgan.

Casey LaBrue is a name to know. A sophomore Enid native and transfer from Missouri State, LaBrue is backing up Russell Okung at left tackle. And considering Gundy is giving his stars like Okung some time off to keep them healthy during spring, LaBrue is getting some looks with the first team.

* Running back news: Beau Johnson has trimmed down for his senior season and could be in line for more playing time. Kye Staley is in better shape, too. And Dexter Pratt’s footwork for a 230-pounder has impressed the coaches early on. He and Staley are the type of big backs OSU hasn’t really had in a while. Julius Crosslin was big, but not shifty like these guys.

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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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