STILLWATER — It went largely unnoticed but it was a big loss.
When Daytawion Lowe suffered a shoulder injury during summer workouts last year, Oklahoma State lost a potential key contributor on its defense.
After having surgery and taking a redshirt season, Lowe returns to action this spring as a redshirt sophomore who will provide depth in the secondary.
“I know he's excited to be back,” coach Mike Gundy said. “He brings a certain amount of enthusiasm to us. He came from a great program that won a lot of games; it's good to have him back out there.”
A former Oklahoman All-State safety at Carl Albert, Lowe was slated to be OSU's nickelback in passing situations last season. He played a significant role on the Cowboys' special teams as a true freshman in 2009 before the injury forced him to watch one of the best seasons in OSU history from the sideline.
“It took a piece out of my heart,” Lowe said. “Football is one of my loves and I didn't realize how much I missed it until it was gone. It was frustrating. Just sitting down and having to watch when I could have been out there.”
This spring, he will be out there. And he'll be counted on to be a key member of OSU's defense in 2011.
“Daytawion will probably be a nickelback for us,” defensive coordinator Bill Young said. “We really missed him last year. He's going to be bigger, better, stronger and faster.”
Lowe brings added versatility to the OSU secondary. At 6-foot, 188 pounds, Lowe brings size along with good athleticism and underrated speed. He won state titles in the 100-meter dash (10.65) and 200-meter dash (22.17) as a senior at Carl Albert.
“I expect him to compete for a starting job,” Gundy said. “We rotate those safeties in and I'm sure Johnny (Thomas) and Markelle (Martin) would like for him to cut their reps down.”
After one of the most difficult years of his life watching the Pokes from the sidelines, Lowe doesn't care where he lines up in the secondary.
“I don't even know how to put it into words; I'm going hard,” Lowe said of his excitement to return to the field. “I'll play anywhere; I just want to make plays.”
Most of all, he wants to join Thomas and Martin as players who set a physical tone for the Pokes defense from their safety position.
“I'm ready to go hit somebody,” Lowe said. “I haven't hit anybody in a year; it's about that time.”
IN SAFE HANDS
Here's a closer look at Oklahoma State's safeties:
Number, Name, Ht, Wt, Class, Hometown
* 10, Markelle Martin, 6-1, 192, Sr., Wichita Fall, Texas
One of the Big 12's top safeties, Martin will be one of the leaders of the defense.
* 12, Johnny Thomas, 5-11, 196, Sr., Texas City, Texas
One of the most pleasant surprises of 2010, Thomas could be even better as a senior.
* 8, Daytawion Lowe, 6-0, 188, So., Midwest City
Slated to be the Cowboys' starting nickelback after missing the 2010 season.
* 2, Lavocheya Cooper, 6-0, 187, So., Arp, Texas
Very talented, this spring will be an opportunity for Cooper to secure a spot in the rotation.
* 23, Zack Craig, 6-2, 188, So., Spring Branch, Texas
Solid contributor on special teams as a true freshman. Another versatile safety prospect.
* 28, Deion Imade, 5-11, 191, So., Rowlett, Texas
Imade impressed as soon as he stepped on campus as a true freshman.