STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy had to go way back to find a Cowboy with speed like Tyreek Hill has shown in practice.
After reflecting briefly, he came up with Rafael Denson, who last played for the Cowboys in 1994. Hill was in diapers back then, and many of his teammates hadn't been born.
"The guy that he reminds me of a little bit, but he's (Hill) much thicker and heavier, would be Rafael Denson," Gundy said Tuesday after Oklahoma State's first practice in full pads. "But he's faster than Rafael Denson. He's the only guy I can think of that can get in the same category of the type of athlete that Tyreek is at this time."
If Hill becomes as productive as Denson was, the Cowboys have a star on their hands. Denson was Oklahoma State's leading rusher as a freshman, and he led the Big 8 in yards receiving as a senior.
Hill, like Denson, will play running back and receiver and return kicks. He will make his Oklahoma State debut Aug. 30 against defending national champion Florida State in Arlington, Texas.
Hill's versatility at Garden City Community College was among the qualities that drew Oklahoma State's attention. He caught 32 passes for 532 yards and six touchdowns and had 101 carries for 659 yards and five scores last year.
"He did everything from wildcat to running back to receiver, and he does have some good hands," receivers coach Jason Ray said. "Obviously, you get better as you catch the ball more at practice, and we catch a lot more balls at receiver than he would at running back, but he does possess some route running ability. He's athletic enough to where he can stick his foot in the ground, change direction and run the routes that we run."
After enrolling at Oklahoma State in January and joining the track team, Hill won the 200 meters and placed second in the 60 meters at the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championship in the spring. Now, he's the preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.
"Obviously, there is a lot of excitement about Tyreek with his speed," running backs coach Jemal Singleton said. "He has a speed not many people get the chance to see, so he can definitely run. We'll see what he does on Saturdays when it matters, but he's done a great job so far."
Gundy wants to give Hill at least 15 touches a game. Before that can happen, Hill needs to learn the nuances of the college game. The coaching staff said Hill is improving in that regard because of his humility, good attitude and work ethic.
"He's doing a great job and picking up the offense well," offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said. "There's some little things we need to get ironed out but Tyreek's doing fine and progressing well."
Oklahoma State running back Desmond Roland is impressed.
"It looks like he never gets tired," Roland said. "That's that Olympic track conditioning he's in. His legs keep going and going. I can't wait to see him in game time."
Roland rushed for 811 yards and 13 touchdowns and caught nine passes for 83 yards as a junior last season. With a weapon like Hill on the field, and possibly in the backfield with him, Roland sees the potential for more.
"The defense will never know who's going to get the ball," Roland said. "We both can make big plays. When that first game comes, we're going to see what can happen."
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