Defensive end is arguably Oklahoma State’s biggest position battle this spring, with the Cowboys needing to replace three key contributors in Ryan Robinson, Cooper Bassett and Nigel Nicholas.
New defensive line coach Joe Bob Clements gave his assessment of the group Wednesday, revealing that senior Tyler Johnson and sophomores Trace Clark and Jimmy Bean are ahead of the rest of the pack right now.
Behind them, Clements said, are junior college transfer Sam Wren and redshirt freshman Emmanuel Ogbah.
“I think I have a strong group of guys to work with,” Clements said. “It’s just a matter of sorting out which ones are the best.”
Johnson recorded 27 tackles (six for loss), four sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one interception and three pass breakups in 2012, his first season at defensive end after converting from linebacker. Clark played in seven games as a true freshman, while an injury forced Bean to redshirt last season.
Clements described Clark as a mature sophomore and a player who is rarely caught out of position. Bean, Clements said, has more speed, length and athleticism off the edge and could develop into a big-play threat.
Other defensive ends participating in spring practice include early enrollee Naim Mustafaa and redshirt freshmen Eric Davis and Victor Irokansi.