With Oklahoma State spring football beginning past the halfway point, it’s a great time to take a closer look at the Cowboys roster. During the final days of spring football I complete my position-by-position look at the Pokes.
Headliner: TBD. Replacing Orie Lemon and Justin Gent, OSU has talent at the position but it is largely inexperienced talent. Until they prove it on the field, nobody deserves to be called a headliner quite yet.
Next in line: Sophomore Caleb Lavey. An elite recruit in last year’s class, Lavey will be counted on to step in for Orie Lemon at the middle linebacker slot. After injuring his elbow in fall camp, he fought back to see significant action in the final weeks of the season. Replacing Lemon won’t be easy but Lavey has the talent to be a core member of the Cowboy defense.
Could surprise: Freshman Kris Catlin. Originally a 2010 signee, Catlin has been impressive this spring as an early enrollee following a greyshirt semester. His hard work during on and off the field last fall is looking like it could pay off in 2011.
Spring goals: Find two solid starters to replace Gent and Lemon. Or better yet, find four solid players who can rotate at the two positions allowing for fresher defenders in the fourth quarter. Early on, it appears the Cowboys have the talent to accomplish that goal but limiting mental mistakes will be the key to actually setting up a four-man rotation.
Summary: Lavey should be solid at middle linebacker with Tyler Johnson looking like a solid backup in the middle. Outside, LeRon Furr, who has talent but loses his focus at times, is battling Catlin and Chris Dinkins. If Dinkins makes a smooth transition to linebacker he could be the most talented of the bunch and a potential difference maker.
Overall grade: C. Talent-wise, OSU fans should be excited about this group. But talent does you no good if it’s always in the wrong place, so the mental makeup of this group is the key and they should improve as they become more experienced.
*Note: Star linebacker will be addressed in a separate blog.*