STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — After missing the spring practice with a shoulder injury, Oklahoma State running back Desmond Roland is back on the field and ready to step up as an offensive leader.
The senior began last season as a backup to the departed Jeremy Smith, but seized the starting job in the seventh game and finished the year strong.
Now, one week into practices for his final college season, Roland is healthy and looking forward to providing a very young team with some much-needed leadership.
"It was a blessing just to step back on the field," said Roland, who rushed for 664 yards and seven touchdowns as the starter to help the Cowboys go 5-2 in their last seven games. "Last spring I was watching my teammates practice and it really hurt me. I felt like I couldn't be a leader like I should, like I couldn't say some stuff I wanted to say because I wasn't out there with them. But now that I'm back on the field, I can be that leader and I can step up when I want to."
Running backs coach Jemal Singleton saw Roland show flashes of leadership last season as he assumed a bigger role on the field. He expects big things from Roland this year as the go-to guy in the backfield.
"I think that started last year when he got a chance to kind of be the guy and carry the load a little bit," Singleton said. "He showed he was more than capable of doing that. He also showed off the field that he could do the things required of him so that he could continue to be good, so I am looking forward to seeing what he does his final year."
Roland embraces the responsibility of being a player that the younger guys can look up to, especially off the field in how he carries himself.
"I just have to come ready to practice every day, I can't come with a bad attitude," Roland said. "I have to stay positive, because I signed up for this. And that's what I'm telling the freshmen, 'You got to come ready to practice every day. Treat it like a game. It's not too long before we'll be playing in big-time games, and this hard work will pay off.'"
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